Ever have a moment when you realize the thing you always thought you were the best at, is suddenly the thing you're least skilled at doing?
I'm there with parenting, and that's why my friend Margit Crane's "10 Commandments of Bad Parenting" strikes me:
I. Be sarcastic
Don't let it bother you at all that the word means "to tear flesh." Kids are plenty sophisticated enough to understand that when you say, "Yes, of course I think you're stupid," you don't in any way mean it. Plus! You'll love it when they reach their teens and start dishing it back to you. Nothing is more lovable than a sarcastic teen!
II. Lecture, yell, nag, and be smug
Dude. Who doesn't love to cuddle up for a good lecture? And yelling just makes it that much easier to be heard. Of course, if you're one of those who (cough) doesn't believe in yelling, acting smug works great too. Saying to your kids "I'm sorry I ever birthed a sinner like you" in a calm voice is totally different than saying it in a loud voice. Besides, listening is so last century.
An Indiana Education Committee met for the fist time in Indianapolis Thursday to evaluate whether the state should cap school superintendent salaries and benefits.
Indiana's 2011 Interim Study Committee on Education Issues is being co-chaired by State Senator Dennis Kruse. Kruse says the committee decided superintendent compensation was an issue for local school boards, not legislators.
"School board members need the flexibility to be able to choose the best person, and they need that negotiation to be able to offer a package deal that's better than what they might be getting in another state as well as another community. Each individual school corporation has different needs and they have different budgets."
The disparities in pay from district to district are significant. There are 291 school districts in Indiana, and according the Indiana Department of Education, superintendents earn a collective $33 million each year. That's an average of more than $113,000.
Among the many prominent thinkers attending the Urban League's annual conference Thursday, Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates made his case for focusing on teachers.
One of the nation's oldest civil rights groups, the Urban League, is holding its annual conference in Boston this week.
Much of the conference focused on education Thursday -- specifically, the persistent achievement gap between black and Latino students and their white counterparts.
Gates has been in the education reform game for a while, pouring billions of dollars into scholarships, research and trying to improve public schools. Gates said there have been advances on most other civil rights issues, but not much progress on education.
Up to now, genetics were thought to account for 90 percent of a child's risk for autism, but a new Stanford University School of Medicine study suggests environmental factors could play a much larger role than previously thought.
The largest study of its kind, the research focused on autism in 192 pairs of twins -- 54 identical, 138 fraternal. The surprise came when Stanford researchers found a greater number of fraternal twins shared autism than identical twins. Fraternal twins share only half their genes with each other, thus, when both fraternal twins are autistic, it suggests factors other than genetics are at work.
In fact, "About half of what we see is due to environmental factors, and half of what we see is due to genetic factors," Dr. Joachim Hallmayer tells Guy Raz, host of weekends on All Things Considered. Hallmayer is the lead author of the study.
Five Wisconsin school districts that invested in $200 million worth of risky financial instruments that deflated in the economic collapse are engaged this month in settlement talks with the financial institutions they claim led them astray, according to court documents.
The legal counsel for the school districts - Waukesha, West Allis-West Milwaukee, Whitefish Bay, Kenosha and Kimberly - and for Stifel Financial Corp. and the Royal Bank of Canada met in New York this month and asked a Milwaukee County circuit judge for time to continue those talks.
"The schools are actively engaged in the mediation process, which we are hoping will produce a settlement," said Stephen Kravit, one of the attorneys representing the districts.
Kravit and other attorneys for the school districts and financial institutions met in court Thursday for a status hearing. The next major hearing, which is likely to discuss amendments to a cross-claim that Stifel filed against the Royal Bank of Canada last month, is scheduled for Aug. 30.
The seasons, they go 'round and 'round, and the painted ponies go up and down.
No, I'm not just having a Joni Mitchell musical flashback. The painted ponies on my mind are block scheduling and the way school systems - Milwaukee Public Schools particularly - make and unmake decisions, over and over.
Block scheduling of high schools and middle schools is an idea that seems to come around, pass by, then come around again. In fact, at the moment, it is both coming and going in the Milwaukee area.
Under a block plan, the traditional daily schedule of seven classes of 45 or 50 minutes is replaced with four classes of 80 to 90 minutes. Commonly, courses are completed in a quarter, rather than a semester, and then new classes start. Some argue that longer class periods allow different learning styles and more depth. Others argue block schedules mean more wasted time. I've seen evidence of both in classes I've observed. Research nationally doesn't reach a strong overall verdict.
Brookfield East and Brookfield Central high schools in the Elmbrook district will switch to blocks for the coming school year. And Homestead High School in Mequon is going to a relatively rare trimester program, in which the school year will be broken into three sections. As part of that, there will be fewer, but longer, classes each day.
Your views on this will guide you as you vote. As the only elected officials in our school district, board directors should be accountable and transparent to the people. They approve expenditures of taxpayer dollars, and they oversee the education of our children. There should be very little about their work that’s closed to public view. When the district pushes something the community doesn’t want, the board should pay attention and be inclined to support the electorate.
- Is the role of a board director accountability and responsiveness to the district -- or to voters?
- Should directors work to support the superintendent and staff? Or, should they work to hold the district accountable for fiscal responsibility and academic outcomes?
- If the district and the voters disagree on what should happen with taxpayer money and our children, to whom should the board listen?
That’s why, on July 27, I asked Spokane board directors to allow the people to vote on whether the district should spend several million tax dollars on a proposed new data system, and on the new federal vision for public education. As directors contemplate these multi-million-dollar expenditures on (unproved) products – they're also contemplating cutting people and programs that parents actually want. So, at the July 27 board meeting, I asked the directors to put the proposed expenditures on a ballot. They were silent. They looked at each other. Then, they went on with their meeting.
State-mandated unification and consolidation of school districts in the past has not fared well with wary Arizona voters.
School districts have been concerned about losing local control, teachers and their identities if merged with each other.
A committee of school officials, board members and politicians are tackling the issue again, this time with the goal of offering Arizona's 227 school districts options to explore.
This is an important moment in the history of education in the state of Iowa.Margaret Crocco: Clusty Search argaret Crocco
Earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, Iowa Education Director Jason Glass and an array of educational experts offered a set of challenges to educators at the two-day Education Summit in Des Moines.
The message was simple: Things need to change if Iowa is to regain its status as one of the strongest educational systems in the nation.
Although the statistics about Iowa students' performances on the National Assessment of Educational Progress can be used to support diverse narratives about how students are performing compared with their peers across the nation, international comparisons tell an unambiguous story: American schools will need to do better if the United States is going to produce a globally competitive work force for the 21st century.
When Newark's public school system accepted $5 million from the federal government last year to turn around the poorly performing Malcolm X. Shabazz High School, it agreed to replace at least half of the school's teachers, under the belief that principals could then hire better ones.New Jersey Left Behind:
Instead, Shabazz swapped teachers with two other failing schools.
Some 68 teachers were shuffled among Shabazz, Central High School and Barringer High School, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis.
Shabazz, which had 90 teachers, sent 21 of them to Barringer. And Barringer sent 21 of its teachers to Shabazz, according to teacher transfer records obtained through an open records request.
"Federal money may have unintentionally funded the infamous 'dance of the lemons' that has been a harmful practice in districts for decades," said Tim Daly, president of the New Teacher Project, a nonprofit group that helps school districts recruit teachers.
So Newark officials elected to use the "replace 50% of the staff" form of intervention for Shabazz High School. But, remember, teacher tenure is inviolable. Therefore, what happened to the 45 teachers who were removed to improve student achievement? According to the Journal, 21 of them went to Barringer High School, which is also a chronically failing school. And what happened to the 21 Barringer teachers who were supplanted by the exodus from Shabazz? Simple. They went to Shabazz. Actually, 68 teachers were rearranged among three of Newark's high schools.
Detroit public school teachers will take a 10 percent wage cut and pay more for health care in what the school system's manager on Friday said were "extreme measures" needed to address a financial emergency.
The measures are designed to save nearly $82 million as part of the Detroit Public Schools' effort to address a $327 million deficit.
"These wage concessions and health care cost-sharing plans are being implemented because we are in an extremely difficult financial period for Detroit Public Schools," Roy Roberts, the emergency manager for the school system, said in a statement.
With Washington focused on a last-minute debt deal, one California congresswoman wants her colleagues to turn their attention to an anti-immigration law that's been off the books for 70 years. Democrat Judy Chu of the 32nd District in Los Angeles County has called on fellow members to join her in a "Resolution of Regret" over the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882--a bill that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi endorsed on Wednesday.
Setting aside Ms. Chu's sense of priorities, there's a deep irony in her resolution. Even as she calls public attention to sins committed while Chester A. Arthur was president, Ms. Chu staunchly supports the most harmful form of anti-Asian discrimination in the U.S. today: racial preferences in hiring and university admissions.
Ms. Chu's resolution rightly notes that the Chinese Exclusion Act was "incompatible with the basic founding principles of equality recognized in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution." It goes on to call on Congress to "reaffirm its commitment to preserving the same civil rights and constitutional protections for people of Chinese or other Asian descent in the United States accorded to all others." Yet "the same" rights aren't what Ms. Chu wants for Asians today.
With unemployment high and retirement savings low, hundreds of thousands of people over 50 are turning to college programs to boost their job skills. But given the rising costs of tuition, is it worth the money?
Drawn by a growing number of college programs targeted at boomers and spurred by the lousy job market, the number of students ages 50 to 64 increased 17% between fall 2007 and fall 2009, according to the latest data available from the National Center for Education Statistics. And colleges have welcomed them with programs specifically designed for older students: In 2008, the American Association of Community Colleges launched its "Plus 50 Initiative" on 15 campuses and has since expanded to 21. And individual schools, including University of California schools in Los Angeles and Riverside, have recently launched boomer-specific programs.
With Republicans controlling a majority of state houses and the U.S. House of Representatives, interest in school vouchers has spiked during the past year at the federal, state, and local levels. Vouchers are payments that parents use to finance private school tuition for their children. Although vouchers can be privately funded, the programs that attract the most attention and controversy provide vouchers paid for with public tax dollars.More, here.
In the deal that ended the stalemate over the federal fiscal year 2011 budget, Congress restored funding for the District of Columbia voucher program, which had been discontinued in 2009 by the Obama Administration and the previous Democratic- controlled Congress. Vouchers are also likely to be a hot-button issue during the upcoming reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the 2012 national elections. Indiana recently enacted a statewide voucher program, and other states are actively considering voucher proposals with strong support from key legislators and governors. The school board in Douglas County, Colorado, adopted a local private school voucher program this spring.
In 2000, the Center on Education Policy (CEP), an independent nonprofit organization, reviewed and summarized the major research on school vouchers in the report School Vouchers: What We Know and Don't Know and How We Could Learn More, available at www.cep-dc.org. Since 2000, much has changed in the voucher landscape. On the legislative front, new voucher programs have been established during the past decade in D.C., Ohio, and New Orleans, in addition to the recently adopted programs in Douglas County and Indiana. Citizens' referenda on vouchers in California, Michigan, and Utah were defeated by sizeable margins. On the judicial front, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the longstanding Cleveland voucher program was constitutional, but state Supreme Courts struck down an established voucher program in Florida and a new statewide program in Colorado. On the research front, numerous studies have added to the knowledge base about vouchers, including comprehensive studies examining the longer-term effects of vouchers in Milwaukee, Cleveland, and D.C.
This CEP report provides updated information for policymakers and others about the status of publicly funded voucher programs and the findings of major voucher studies published since 2000. Other types of programs also subsidize private school tuition including tuition tax credits, specialized vouchers for students with disabilities, town tuition programs for remote rural students, and privately funded vouchers but in order to produce a succinct report focusing on the most controversial form of subsidy, we limited our review to publicly funded voucher programs for general education students.
As incumbent state Senate Republicans and their Democratic challengers flood TV airwaves and stuff mailboxes in the run up to the Aug. 9 recall elections, they are largely sidestepping the issue that spurred tens of thousands of Wisconsinites to sign recall petitions this spring -- the elimination of many collective bargaining powers for most public-sector workers.
"I don't think I've seen a single ad that's directly about union representation issues," said Charles Franklin, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
THE American ideal of lazy summers filled with fun has an unintended consequence: If students are not engaged in learning over the summer, they lose skills in math and reading. Summers off are one of the most important, yet least acknowledged, causes of underachievement in our schools.
Decades of research confirm that summer learning loss is real. According to a report released last month by the RAND Corporation, the average summer learning loss in math and reading for American students amounts to one month per year. More troubling is that it disproportionately affects low-income students: they lose two months of reading skills, while their higher-income peers -- whose parents can send them to enriching camps, take them on educational vacations and surround them with books during the summer -- make slight gains. A study from Johns Hopkins University of students in Baltimore found that about two-thirds of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income ninth graders could be explained by summer learning loss during the elementary school years.
Last week, the New York Times reported that in 2007, Deutsche Bank entered into an agreement with two German universities, Humboldt University and the Technical University of Berlin, to fund a mathematical laboratory. The problematic parts were the 'secret' terms: according to the article, the Deutsche Bank could not only influence the hiring process, but bank employees could serve as adjunct professors. Perhaps the most disturbing aspects of the agreement were that the bank had veto power over the laboratory's research agenda and, more importantly, "was given the right to review any research produced by members of the Quantitative Products Laboratory 60 days before it was published and could withhold permission for publication for as long as two years."
In a letter emailed to teachers today (which you can read here), MTEA president Bob Peterson gave the results of the survey:Erin Richards has more.The survey showed that 52.4% of the membership opposed additional concessions and 47.5% favored them. Based on the results and the many thoughtful comments, the Executive Board decided to not pursue any additional concessions.Considering that last fall's vote, which involved far larger concessions than those considered this time around, was overwhelming in favor, I think it's clear that Milwaukee teachers feel first, that we're not opposed to giving back, but we also recognize that we have given quite a lot.
But the closeness of this week's vote suggests that there is still room for compromise in the future, if we ever get the right to bargain collectively back. Currently, you might recall, it's against the law for the union and the district to meet and mutually discuss the employment conditions of Milwaukee's teachers.
One can only marvel at how masterfully Gov. Scott Walker gutted Wisconsin's public employee unions. This was deft work, surgically precise in its neutering of 50 years of collective bargaining rights.
Walker tightly limited bargainable items, made union dues voluntary, ended the lifeblood of payroll deductions for dues collection and mandated yearly certification votes for unions trying to represent public workers.
The last item is particularly devilish. To be certified, the union must receive not just a simple majority of the votes, but 51% of the entire workforce, including those who don't bother to vote at all.
Reality check: Walker himself wouldn't be governor today if he had to meet that threshold. Candidate Walker won 52.3% of the vote last November, but that was just 25.8% of the voting-age electorate. David Ahrens, a labor activist, studied the legislative numbers and found that only two of 132 lawmakers reached the 51% threshold and just one in a contested election.
For a lot of people, the Republican crackdown reeked of unfairness. This is a major reason Walker and the GOP legislative majority are nervously playing defense today: They seemed downright thuggish, to use a favorite conservative pejorative, in beating down the unions.
Gov. Terry Branstad will not seek changes to the state's universal preschool program for at least the next two years as the state moves forward with its education reform package.
The commitment is a change from Tuesday when Branstad sidestepped several questions about the future of the state's preschool program during a news conference immediately following the Iowa Education Summit.
Pre-K education found wide support among the summit's speakers and audience members, who frequently applauded when a panelist or presenter indicated their support for such programs.
Earlier this year, Branstad pushed a proposal that would have every parent pay something - based on a sliding income scale - for their child to attend a preschool program. The plan didn't make it through the Legislature, and the governor ultimately backed off, although he indicated he issue wasn't settled.
The repeal of much of Wisconsin's collective-bargaining law with regard to many of Wisconsin's public employees has not been adequately explained. This repeal will do more to improve the quality and lower the cost of Wisconsin government than anything else we've done. There are approximately 275,000 government employees in the state of Wisconsin. About 72,000 work for the state, 38,000 for cities and villages, 48,000 for counties, 10,500 (full time equivalent) for technical colleges, and 105,229 for schools. Only half of state employees are unionized, but almost all school employees are.
As you can see, the biggest impact will be on Wisconsin's schools. Since my office has received the most complaints from school teachers, let's look at how collective bargaining affects both the cost and quality of our schools.
Under current law, virtually all conditions of employment have to be spelled out in a collectively bargained agreement. Consequently, it is very difficult to remove underperforming school teachers. It may take years of documentation and thousands of dollars in attorney fees to fire a bad teacher. Is it right that two or three classes of second-graders must endure a bad teacher while waiting for documentation to be collected? Just as damaging is the inability to motivate or change the mediocre teacher who isn't bad enough to fire. Good superintendents are stymied when they try to improve a teacher who is doing just enough to get by.
As is becoming increasingly common these days however, mine turned out to be a minority view. Other Board members took turns identifying parts of the revision that they did not like, raising some concerns that they had previously expressed and some that were new. The general tenor of the comments was that the current format of the Code was fine but that Code should be stricter and that more violations should lead to mandatory recommendations for expulsion.
About an hour into the meeting, I expressed some frustration with the proceedings (since I'm just figuring this stuff out, this video starts with eight seconds of black) :
Eventually Board members settled on deep-sixing the Work Group's proposal but adopting some (but not all) of the substantive changes reflected in the revision. For example, the aggravated theft offense was added. The change to the unintentional use of force against a staff member violation was adopted (a very good move, btw), but the change to the possession and distribution of drugs or alcohol violation was not (I think). Another change boosted the potential consequences imposed for non-physical acts of bullying or harassment.
Also on our agenda Monday night was the creation of a new Board Ad Hoc Committee on Student Discipline, Conduct and Intervention, to be chaired by Lucy Mathiak. Some Board members suggested that the revisions recommended by the Work Group and rejected by the Board might be re-considered by the members of this committee in some fashion.
I found the Board's rejection of the proposed revisions and ad hoc amending of the existing Code an unfortunate turn of events and criticized what I described as our legislating on the fly right before the vote:
In Monday's post, I went through the DC teacher evaluation system, IMPACT, which weights value-added improvements in student scores at 50 percent of the teacher's evaluation, with the remaining half of the evaluation covering 22 areas (fit into 9 categories). Five classroom observations are held,
three times by a building administrator and twice by an outside "master evaluator" who is a subject-matter expert and does not report to the building administrator.
Teachers in tested subjects are evaluated by standards different from those used for paraprofessionals, counselors, special education teachers and others in the system, with teachers in non-tested subjects having only 10 percent of their evaluation based on student scores.
In many a twilight have I sat with government schoolteachers, discussing education. Discussion over, they gather their bags and lunch boxes, having come straight from school, and head home. Some ride back on two-wheelers, some take the bus. Their homes are often 10-20km away, not an easy commute in rural and small-town India. Next morning they will open their schools, often another 10-20km from their homes, and get back to work: teaching with passion, managing with care and dealing with the vagaries of life, with determination.
These are teachers doing a good job, within every constraint that our government school system has. We have found these good teachers in every block (a typical district has three-six "blocks") that we have worked in, across 17 states. Many of them are not just good, they are exceptional.
The "Race to the Top" program extends the reach of the federal government too far into states' public schools operations, a leading Republican senator said on Wednesday.
The Obama administration also risks neglecting poorer states by moving toward competitive education funding, Sen. Richard Shelby, the most powerful Republican on the Banking Committee, said at a hearing on education spending.
Parents fret all the time about protecting their kids on Facebook, but many of the products and services I've seen that aim to help are intrusive, and inject the parents into the child's normal, healthy online social life in a way that's awkward for both.
You could co-manage your child's account, or "friend" them on the service, which technically has a minimum age of 13. But those are time-consuming and embarrassing practices, especially when the offspring are teenagers, who generally crave some degree of privacy, even if they don't merit full treatment as adults.
So I've been testing a service called ZoneAlarm SocialGuard that I think strikes a good balance between safety and privacy, between a parent's peace of mind and a teen's sense of freedom. Every five minutes, it monitors kids' Facebook accounts for approaches by potential predators and strangers, cyber-bullying, age fraud, account hacking, and links to inappropriate or malicious websites. It uses algorithms that look for certain types of language, profile data, or other clues that unwanted activity may be under way.
Roy S. Roberts' path to the top job at Detroit Public Schools began long before he made headlines as General Motors Corp.'s highest-ranking African-American executive.
It began before he stepped into the White House Rose Garden to receive the American Success Award from President George H.W. Bush in 1989.
That path began near a cotton farm in rural Texas in the late 1930s, before Roberts was even born.
"The big white guy in town had a cotton farm. He came down and talked to my father and said: 'You have seven kids that are old enough to pick cotton. I want them down there Monday morning,'" Roberts, 72, said in his office in Detroit's Fisher Building, where he serves as emergency manager for DPS.
Akademos, Inc., a leading provider of integrated online bookstores and marketplaces to educational institutions, announced today that it has launched a digital reader that will allow its member institutions to access electronic content from traditional publishers and from open resources, such as the Connexions Consortium, World Public Library, the Guttenberg Project, and many others.
The company also announced its first major Open Educational Resources (OER) partnership with publisher Flat World Knowledge, which is providing the company with its full catalog of over 40 high-quality textbooks covering major subject areas for introductory general education colleges courses.
If you monitor education topics on Twitter you will quickly get the impression that huge numbers of American public schools are being replaced with charter schools. And you will also pick up lot of antipathy toward the schools from some of the most visible promoters of this week's SOS Marches.
But the numbers show that, in most places, charter schools are insignificant.
Charters are not allowed in nine states (Alabama, Kentucky, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia) and they make up fewer than 3 percent of all schools in 12 other states. More than 10 percent of schools are charters in only three states--Arizona, Florida, Hawaii. Charters in Washington, D.C. get a lot of attention, as they should, because they constitute 45 percent of the schools. New Orleans, where 70 percent of students attend charters, is another hot spot. The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools has a handy map that profiles the charter school situation in each state, going back to 1999.
The new Palm Beach County public schools budget comes with a slight property tax increase, a $500 raise for all teachers, less than 100 employee layoffs, compliance with state class-size limits, and no major school construction projects.The Palm Beach County School District supports 172,664 students and spends $13,320 each, based on a $2,300,000,000 budget. Locally, Madison budget plans to spend about $362,000,000 for 25,000 students; $14,480 per student..
Following a 20-minute hearing, the School Board on Wednesday voted 5-1 to tentatively approve a $2.3 billion spending plan for the 2011-12 school year. Major changes are not anticipated before the board's final hearing and vote on Sept. 14.
"I'm not going to support it because we are giving some people raises while laying off others," said board Vice Chairwoman Debra Robinson. Board member Monroe Benaim was absent, and no one from the public commented before the vote.
If there's a student anywhere who would be able to answer a trivia question about President Abraham Lincoln, it would be on the marble steps of his memorial in the nation's capital.
But a summertime visit there backed up recent test results that showed the majority of U.S. students don't know the most basic facts about the country's history -- Lincoln and all.
Test results released in June showed that fewer than one quarter of all students are "proficient" in American history.
With the day of reckoning approaching for California's lavish but disastrously underfunded public-employee pensions, union partisans have tried to persuade the public that reformers are engaged in "pension busting." But to believe that reformers are waging a partisan vendetta against state workers' pensions would require ignoring a mountain of data. The fact is, only by skewing the averages can the unions maintain that they're victims of a campaign against their "modest" pensions.
The union arguments are deceptively straightforward, rehearsed constantly by their talking heads and, unfortunately, repeated by a sympathetic and innumerate media. A master practitioner is Art Pulaski, chief officer of the AFL-CIO's California Labor Federation. In an online debate at the Sacramento Bee in March (which also included City Journal associate editor Ben Boychuk and frequent City Journal contributor Steven Greenhut), Pulaski claimed that the average pension that California's retired state workers collect is not much more than what they would receive under Social Security. "The average state worker gets a pension of $24,000 and often without Social Security," Pulaski said. "Not lavish by any means." More recently, the Bee published a column by Martha Penry headlined PENSION 'REFORMERS' DISTORT FACTS ON BENEFITS. The paper identified Penry as "a special education teacher's assistant in the Twin Rivers school district," but it didn't disclose that she's also a high-ranking union official who serves on the board of directors of the California School Employees Association. Penry accused "pension busters" of overstating the cost of pensions and the amount of the average pension. "Three quarters of CalPERS retirees collect yearly pensions of $36,000 or less," she claimed.
Education leaders told a House committee Wednesday to focus on crafting comprehensive blueprint for teacher evaluations as Congress moves ahead in overhauling No Child Left Behind.
The four witnesses called before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce agreed educators have not come up with an ideal framework to evaluate teachers. They also expressed concern over whether teachers are being prepared for the classroom, and said the right people might not be going into education in the first place.
Witnesses questioned whether the higher education institutions were actively recruiting people who had a true interest or in being educators.
Kate Walsh, president of the National Council on Teacher Quality, said half the people that graduate from an education program don't wind up getting teaching jobs.
Is it a given that technology enhances the acts of writing, as it does the arts and sciences of film-making, design, engineering, data collection and analyses, and so forth? What about the teaching and learning of writing?
In a flurry of recent exchanges (subject "Writing horse-shoe-of-horse-heading-east Technology") on the Writing Program Administration (WPA) listserv, scholars in writing studies have argued these points in some theoretical and practical depth. Maja Wilson, from the University of Maine, sums up the argument nicely: "Steve [Krause, of Eastern Michigan University], and others were arguing that to teach writing, you need to teach the tools available now and not teach or allow the tools on their way out (pen, pencil), because if you aren't teaching the tools, you aren't teaching writing. Rich [Haswell, professor emeritus from Texas A&M University], and others argued that, while teaching the use of all those tools can be a good thing, it isn't necessary to teach writing: writing itself transcends the particular tools, so while teaching the tools can be involved in teaching writing, it isn't necessarily the same thing."
A fifth of the nation's public school students attend rural schools, but nearly a third of those kids don't graduate. In fact, many schools that researchers have labeled "dropout factories" are in rural communities. No state has more than South Carolina, which has 50. In this state, lots of teenagers just don't think they need a high school diploma.
Oconee County, S.C., sits on the far west fringes of the state, just a few miles from the Georgia border. This is where Nick Dunn was born, and where his father died in a car accident a day before Christmas. Nick was 11.
Not a complete bust but not a great interview with these candidates on The Conversation this afternoon.
First, KUOW should make up its mind on the format. For District 2, the candidates were interviewed individually and for a longer period of time. (There were three of them.) For District 6, they had them all in the studio and interviewed each for a much shorter period of time but did allow them to interact. I think it would be better to have the interaction among candidates AFTER the primary and allow people more time to get to know these candidates now.
Both NJ Spotlight and PolitickerNJ are reporting on Gov. Christie's speech at the Iowa Education Summit hosted by Republican Gov. Terry Branstad. According to Spotlight,[Christie] promoted the idea of charter schools, but added they may not be the answer in all school districts, a clear response to the suburban backlash that has been felt in New Jersey."They are not needed in every district in New Jersey and wouldn't add much to the education offered there," he said.The "suburban backlash" alluded to is spearheaded by the group Save Our Schools-NJ, which is lobbying for a set of charter school bills that would subject any new charter to a community vote, require every child in surrounding districts to be entered into a lottery, regardless of interest, and severely curtail the growth of new charters. SOS-NJ makes a number of fair points: some charter schools tend to accept fewer kids with disabilities and fewer kids who are English Language Learners. They "cream off" high-achieving students and are a money suck for local districts who pay tuition and must educate anyone who walks in the door.
No statistic in education is more damning than the nation's dropout rate. Almost 4 million students start ninth grade every year. One in four won't graduate.
About half of those who drop out every year are black. Most will end up unemployed, and by their mid-30s, six out of 10 will have spent time in prison. In Chicago, one young man dropped out, spent time in jail and is now getting a second chance.
For a kid who's been hustling and gang-banging on the streets of South Chicago for much of his life, 19-year-old Patrick Lundvick doesn't look menacing at all.
180 countries on a corruption index that ranges from “Very Clean” (New Zealand) to “Highly Corrupt” (Somalia). The World Bank gauges control of corruption using a detailed list of measures and sources. By the same token, various municipalities in America have different levels of corruption. The Illinois Department of Corrections budgets for prison construction costs based on demographic projections of the number of future governors. The Sopranos was set in New Jersey for a reason.
A Tennessee statewide virtual school received some love from the Knoxville News Sentinel editorial board
Tennessee has been in the online education world for some time, but the new Tennessee Virtual Academy based in Union County promises to kick the process up a couple of notches. Indeed, it might well figure into serious education reform. The academy will open next month and serve students from across the state in kindergarten through the eighth grade. The academy will use the curriculum of K12 Inc., a provider of online school programs claiming to have enrolled about 70,000 students in 21 states.
But Commercial Appeal took the ‘stealing money from districts’ approach. The business news website is apparently outraged that TVA was advertising and even had a facebook page. The pile-on comments are mostly inaccurate or just snarky.
Union County Public Schools, the TVA host, will receive $5,387 from the state for each student and a portion of that will go to K12. That’s a bargain and a lot less than the state pays for kids in traditional schools. The school will need limited facilities and no meals or transportation, so some savings are being realized.
However, the school will have a full complement of teachers with staffing patterns not dissimilar to traditional schools. Many online students note even more personal attention learning online compared to traditional schools.
New Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard unveiled a major reorganization of the district's management structure Wednesday, overhauling how schools are divided regionally and creating new upper management positions.
Brizard created four new cabinet-level positions: Chief Community and Family Engagement Officer and Chief Portfolio Officer, who will report to Brizard, and Chief of Leadership Development and Chief of Instruction, who will be under Chief Education Officer Noemi Donoso. District spokeswoman Becky Carroll said the new positions will not increase the size of the central office staff.
Brizard said the Chief Portfolio Officer will face a "monumental task" to develop the district's strategy for increasing high-quality school options, especially in high-need neighborhoods on the South and West Sides. The portfolio officer will be charged with helping to decide when to open new schools and close existing ones, Brizard said, and may also work to attract outside school operators, such as the College Board, to run schools in Chicago.
All are entering eighth grade at New York City public middle schools where at least 75 percent of the student body is eligible for free lunches. And all love math. At this camp, asking "What kind of math do you like, algebra or geometry?" is considered an appropriate icebreaker, and invoking the newly learned term "the multiplication principle" elicits whoops and high-fives.
In a Bard classroom one afternoon, it seemed for a moment that Arturo Portnoy had stumped everyone. Dr. Portnoy, a math professor visiting from the University of Puerto Rico, posed this question: "The length of a rectangle is increased by 10 percent and the width is decreased by 10 percent. What percentage of the old area is the new area?" The 17 campers whispered and scribbled. One crumpled his paper into a ball. Mattie Williams may have looked as if she was doodling as she drew dozens of tiny rectangles in her notebook, but she was hard at work on the problem, which was taken from the American Mathematics Competitions, a contest series known for its difficulty. In less than 10 minutes, she had the answer -- 99 percent -- and was ready for the next question.
For some schoolchildren, mathematics is a competitive sport, and summer is the time for training -- poring over test-prep books, taking practice exams and attending selective math camps. But for students who cannot afford such programs, or have not been exposed to many advanced math concepts, the avenues to new skills are limited.
Daniel Zaharopol, the director of the camp at Bard, is trying to change that. He has brought four math educators to the Bard campus to teach the middle school students concepts as varied as number theory and cryptography. Among the instructors is Mr. Portnoy, a director of the Puerto Rico Mathematical Olympiads. The camp is financed by the Art of Problem Solving Foundation, the nonprofit arm of an online school that promotes math education for gifted students. Classes meet in two-hour sessions and cover topics including voting theory, graph theory, and math and the arts.
The point of the program, Mr. Zaharopol said, is not to offer remedial instruction to struggling students, but rather to challenge those who already excel. He also hopes to prepare students to participate in competitions and independent math seminars called math circles, where low-income students are typically underrepresented. "These are students who have a tremendous amount of potential and are really ready for a lot more than they're able to get in schools," said Mr. Zaharopol, who has master's degrees in mathematics and teaching mathematics.
But they may lack some basic preparation, he said. "If these students had just gone to the New York City Math Circle this summer, they would have felt like a fish out of water," he said. "They wouldn't have the same mathematical background and experience as their peers."
It is common for young people who later specialize in mathematical fields to begin studying advanced math concepts before they reach high school. But Andrew Brantlinger, an assistant professor at the University of Maryland who has researched secondary-school math education, sees the math pipeline as "overwhelmingly nondiverse." "There are very few women, people of color and people from low-income backgrounds," Dr. Brantlinger said. A summer program designed to address such an achievement gap can be valuable in theory, he said, but might not be able to accomplish enough in a short time.
Zvezdelina Stankova, a professor of mathematics at Mills College in Oakland, Calif., who directs the Berkeley Math Circle at the University of California, Berkeley, said she had observed the same problem. "Just like it takes years for a basketball player to develop themselves and get to the professional league, it's the same for mathematicians," Dr. Stankova said. "By and large they have done something exceptional before they get into college."
Jeffrey Pereira, 20, one of the math camp counselors, said he was trying to impress on the campers the value of their studying math independently, so they will not simply sit back and coast through classes that come easy to them when they return to school in September. "In middle school, my experience with math was basically, everything was really easy to me," said Mr. Pereira, who attended public school in the Bronx and is now a math major at Bard. "Some of the things they're doing here, I haven't seen in college yet." Besides helping the campers during classes, Mr. Pereira plays puzzle games with them during free time.
For Mattie, evenings spent socializing at the two-story residence hall where the students and counselors live have made the camp feel less like a school and more like a home away from home. Outside of class time, the math whizzes can hike or lounge in the computer lab. And at least among the 10 girls, conversations are more often about what to wear the next day (one recent day, they all agreed to wear blue) than the merits of a particular counting system. "The first night we all sat in each other's rooms and talked about what we wanted to do, and how, oh, I miss my mom, I miss my dad," Mattie said. "Then we had a pillow fight."
Scores of deaf and hard-of-hearing children and their families assembled to complain in American Sign Language. Parents also have confronted new board members of the state’s school for the deaf in pointed, awkward exchanges. And more objections are expected when the board convenes next month for what had, until now, been ordinary meetings on routine school matters.
At the root of the tension is a debate that stretches well beyond Indiana: Will sign language and the nation’s separate schools for the deaf be abandoned as more of the deaf turn to communicating, with help from fast-evolving technology, through amplified sounds and speech?
And in the struggle to balance depleted budgets, Indiana and other states, like Kansas, North Carolina, Oregon, South Dakota and West Virginia have called for cuts on many fronts in recent years, including for state schools for the deaf — a group of institutions with long, rich traditions.
A survey of media reports on higher education might easily lead those of us working in the field to wonder: When did students and their parents start seeing college as a gantlet rather than as an exciting pathway to opportunity? When did policy makers stop seeing higher education as a valuable public investment? When did tenure become a guarantee only of a declining real wage? When did I start playing for a losing team?
We believe that the answer to these questions is "never," or at least "not yet." Traditional colleges and universities continue to play an invaluable role in our society, all the more so as the world changes. Three of their functions are, for now, irreplaceable.
One is the discovery of knowledge. Though the proportion of basic research performed by businesses continues to grow, university-based research remains powerfully innovative. That was true when the first computers and the Internet were pioneered, and it remains true in the age of Google and Facebook, both spawned in universities.
Gov. Terry Branstad's "education summit" highlights this state's deficiency in education. In an increasingly competitive national and global economy, students need an education to face any challenge they -- and this country -- encounter.
We've made many attempts over the years to fix education. But we've all seen the No Child Left Behind Act's overemphasis on test scores, and we haven't really had time to measure how well the Iowa Core Curriculum delivers its "challenging and meaningful content to students that prepares them for success in life."
The most important thing in education is employing teachers who want to teach. One way to attract good teachers whose work is worth paying for, of course, is to raise salaries above the statewide average of $41,970.
Declining home prices are starting to slam California harder than the rest of the nation, in part due to a state law that sets a ceiling--but no floor--on property taxes.
The toll is evident here in Calaveras County, a largely rural area about 100 miles east of San Francisco. Over the past three years, it has seen among the biggest property-tax roll declines of any California county, with the total value of taxable properties down about 5% from last year--and 18% over the past three years--to $5.67 billion. Statewide, assessed values declined 1.8% last year from a year earlier, according to state data.
Calaveras's shrinking property taxes have resulted in cuts to the sheriff's department and public-health services, as well as an effort to cut 10% of the county's budget for the coming year. The tax drop also has pitted the county assessor, who has lowered taxes by re-evaluating home prices, against the head of the county board of supervisors, who said the reassessments have been too aggressive.
When Luis Mario Rojas was fired from the Elizabeth Board of Education in 2006, he claimed he had been the victim of a political purge.
In a federal lawsuit, Rojas said that while district officials cited a poor work record and budget cutbacks, the real reason for his termination after nearly 20 years on the job was that he became viewed as a disloyal soldier. His sister, former board member Oneida Duran, had a falling out with those in control of the school district.
Earlier this year, board members agreed to resolve the matter. They gave Rojas $68,997 to settle his complaint. In addition, they paid out another $24,652 to settle a separate workers' compensation case. Then they put him back on the payroll -- paying him $60,064 annually until he becomes eligible for retirement in two years.
As part of the agreement, he promised never to say a word about it.
It's hard to frame the decision by the state's largest teachers union to not participate in a unique task force to improve our schools as anything other than disappointing.
Sure, leaders of the Wisconsin Education Association Council are angry and frustrated to the extreme with Gov. Scott Walker and Republican lawmakers for requiring more financial contributions from all public sector employees - including teachers - while strictly limiting collective bargaining.
Go ahead - be angry and frustrated. But don't just withdraw from a great opportunity to improve our schools
Mayor Rahm Emanuel certainly made news over his angry, finger-wagging scolding of NBC Chicago TV reporter Mary Ann Ahern the other day.
Ahern dared ask the Rahmfather whether he'd send his kids to the public schools he controls. He reportedly became indignant, took off his microphone and ended the interview.
Later, and with great courtesy, Emanuel revisited the topic with a rival station -- which then reported the big exclusive that the mayor was sending his children to a private school.
Emanuel runs Chicago Public Schools. He's shown grit to stand publicly and admonish the teachers union to improve the product. But he decided his children will not attend the public schools.
Public school systems around the country may have spent the past several years starving for cash in this financially troubled era, but a new report shows that philanthropists doled out $684 million in private grants from 2000-08 to organizations involved in reforming the teaching profession.
The analysis, the first comprehensive examination of philanthropy activity in this area, showed that the biggest chunk of the money -- 38 percent -- went to teacher recruitment, while 22 percent was spent on professional development, 14 percent on teacher preparation and less than 10 percent for everything else.
One organization was the big winner in the money giveaway, according to the University of Georgia researchers who did the analysis, and given all the attention it has received from school reformers, including Education Secretary Arne Duncan, it should come as no surprise.
The stagnation of Iowa's educational system will impact the region negatively in more than just rankings, according to the United States Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. The status quo has potential to cripple Iowans entering a globally competitive job market.
"The countries out there that out-educate us, they out-compete us," Duncan said. "The sad truth is that Iowa has started slowly slouching toward mediocrity."
The Keynote speaker of Gov. Terry Branstad's much publicized Education Summit, said that reform will be tough, possibly unpopular, but absolutely necessary to remain relevant in a "knowledge economy."
The so-called Save Our Schools march scheduled for this weekend is getting a fair amount of traffic on my twitter feed, so I clicked on a link that brought me to this list of "Guiding Principles" from the events organizers. And all I could think was:
....and a pony!
To put it more directly: This is not an agenda for accomplishing anything. It's just a wish list. Half of it is a wishlist of things the organizers don't want (performance-based pay, school closures). Half of it is a wishlist for things someone might want, without any clear theory of how to operationalize them or what that might actually look like in practice in the real world. (I, too, would like to see "Well-rounded education that develops every student's intellectual, creative, and physical potential"-but in the absence of clear prescriptions and mechanisms about how to make that a reality, well, you might as well wish for a pony, too.) The really weird thing is that a lot of the "wishlist" items aren't even outcomes for educators or students, but process items, like "Educator and civic community leadership in drafting new ESEA legislation." I don't know how you'd intend to operationalize that or what the desired ends would be!
The wealth gap between whites and each of the nation's two largest minorities--Hispanics and blacks--has widened to unprecedented levels amid the housing crisis and the recession, according to new research.
The median net worth of white households is 20 times greater than that of black households and 18 times greater than that of Hispanic households, according to an analysis of newly available 2009 government data by the Pew Research Center, an independent think tank.
The disparities are the greatest since the government began tracking such data a quarter-century ago, with the gulf separating whites from other groups twice as wide as it was in the two decades prior to the recession and 2008 financial crisis, according to the study.
McDonald's Corp. plans to promote more nutritional options, such as automatically including fruit or a low-fat dairy option in every Happy Meal.
The fast-food giant said the new Happy Meal, being rolled out in September, will have about 20% fewer calories and less fat.
The company also will promote nutrition in its national kids' advertising and Happy Meal packaging.
Childhood obesity is a growing concern in the U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama has made it her mission to promote environments that support healthy choices through her "Let's Move" initiative.
The familiar heel prick that newborns receive is revealing more about a baby's health than ever before. But, as technology opens the possibility of screening newborns for hundreds of diseases, there is controversy over how much parents need to know.
Within days of an infant being born, a few drops of blood are taken from the baby's heel and tested for signs of more than two dozen different conditions, including congenital hypothyroidism and sickle-cell diseases. In many places, babies also are given tests to identify the likelihood of hearing or vision disorders.
Some states have expanded their checks, including testing for amino-acid and metabolism disorders. Many of the new conditions being looked at have no definitive treatment or it isn't clear whether immediate intervention is necessary. That can present an emotional dilemma for parents who may want to know if anything is wrong with their baby but in many cases have no therapy to pursue.
My name is Robert Kelchen, but many students and faculty who know me at the University of Wisconsin-Madison often introduce me as "the conservative guy" or "my Republican friend." I am used to this sort of introduction after being in Madison for four years; after all, I can count the number of conservative or libertarian doctoral students who I know on two hands. I have been told several times in the past by fellow students that I am the first right-leaning person with whom they have ever interacted on a regular basis. Prior to the passage of Act 10 (the law that restricted collective bargaining), I was one of the few students at the university to request a refund of the portion of the Teaching Assistants' Association dues that went toward political or ideological activities. This also meant that I had to give up my right to vote on issues germane to collective bargaining (the primary purpose of the union), but it was a sacrifice that I was willing to make. During the protests at the Capitol throughout the spring semester, I did my best to stay out of the fray and keep very quiet about my personal opinions.
Sara asked me for my thoughts on the recent New York Times article about why there are so few conservative students in graduate school. I had to consider the offer for a while, as making this post would make my political leanings more publicly known and could potentially affect my chances of getting a job in two years. However, I just could not pass up the opportunity to comment on this article in the newspaper of record for American liberals--and the same paper that ran a front-page article about Sara being one of a new generation of less politically-oriented professors.
Of the million or so kids who drop out of school every year, nearly half are girls. They drop out for the same reasons boys do: they skip school, fall behind academically and they're bored. But the single biggest reason girls drop out is because they get pregnant.
Not a day goes by that Lauren Ortega doesn't regret quitting high school. When she turned 15, she got pregnant with her son.
Her pregnancy cut short so many things, Ortega says. A job, a car, her own apartment, college, and just being independent.
Now, at 20 years old, she complains about gaining weight and feeling a little lost. She's studying to get her GED at a school for adults in San Bernardino, Calif.
Ortega remembers she was starved for affection when she met Joseph, her boyfriend. She was only 14.
The La Follette School of Public Affairs outreach office is helping to organize a conference on educational accountability. The conference, Moving Beyond NCLB to College and Career Readiness: Building a New School Accountability System for Wisconsin, will be Thursday, July 28, from 1 to 5 p.m. in the Pyle Center.
Professor Douglas N. Harris of the La Follette School will speak on building a new accountability system for Wisconsin. "The conference is intended to set the stage for Gov. Walker's attempts to establish clear, plentiful and sophisticated information for judging the quality of almost every school in Wisconsin," says La Follette School outreach director Terry Shelton.
Public schools," ALEC wrote in its 1985 Education Source Book, "meet all of the needs of all of the people without pleasing anyone." A better system, the organization argued, would "foster educational freedom and quality" through various forms of privatization: vouchers, tax incentives for sending children to private schools and unregulated private charter schools. Today ALEC calls this "choice"-- and vouchers "scholarships"--but it amounts to an ideological mission to defund and redesign public schools.Related:
The first large-scale voucher program, the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, was enacted in 1990 following the rubric ALEC provided in 1985. It was championed by then-Governor Tommy Thompson, an early ALEC member, who once said he "loved" ALEC meetings, "because I always found new ideas, and then I'd take them back to Wisconsin, disguise them a little bit, and declare [they were] mine."
ALEC's most ambitious and strategic push toward privatizing education came in 2007, through a publication called School Choice and State Constitutions, which proposed a list of programs tailored to each state.
WRC recommends reading the following open letter from Madison neuropsychologist Dan Gustafson to the Governor's Read to Lead task force. It reflects many of our concerns about the state of reading instruction in Wisconsin and the lack of an effective response from the Department of Public Instruction.View a 133K PDF or Google Docs version.
An Open Letter to the Read-To-Lead Task Force
From Dan Gustafson, PhD
State Superintendent Evers, you appointed me to the Common Core Leadership Group. You charged that the Leadership Group would guide Wisconsin's implementation of new reading instruction standards developed by the National Governors' Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).
It is my understanding that I was asked to join the group with the express purpose of bringing different voices to the table. If anything, my experience with the group illustrates how very far we need to go in achieving a transparent and reasoned discussion about the reading crisis in Wisconsin.
DPI Secretly Endorses Plan Created by Poor Performing CESA-7
I have grave concerns about DPI's recent announcement that Wisconsin will follow CESA-7's approach to implementing the Common Core reading standards. DPI is proposing this will be the state's new model reading curriculum.
I can attest that there was absolutely no consensus reached in the Common Core group in support of CESA-7's approach. In point of fact, at the 27th of June Common Core meeting, CESA-7 representative Claire Wick refused to respond to even general questions about her program.
I pointed out that our group, the Common Core Leadership Group, had a right to know about how CESA-7 intended to implement the Common Core Standards. She denied this was the case, citing a "non-disclosure agreement."
The moderator of the discussion, DPI's Emilie Amundson, concurred that Claire didn't need to discuss the program further on the grounds that it was only a CESA-7 program. Our Common Core meeting occurred on the 27th of June. Only two weeks later, on July 14th, DPI released the following statement:
State Superintendent Evers formally adopted the Common Core State Standards in June 2010, making Wisconsin the first state in the country to adopt these rigorous, internationally benchmarked set of expectations for what students should know and are expected to do in English Language Arts and Mathematics. These standards guide both curriculum and assessment development at the state level. Significant work is now underway to determine how training will be advanced for these new standards, and DPI is currently working with CESA 7 to develop a model curriculum aligned to the new standards.
In glaring contrast to the deliberative process that went into creating the Common Core goals, Wisconsin is rushing to implement the goals without being willing to even show their program to their own panel of experts.
What Do We Know About Wisconsin/CESA-7's Model Curriculum?
As an outsider to DPI, I was only able to locate one piece of data regarding CESA-7's elementary school reading performance:
4TH GRADE READING SCORES, 2007-08 WKCE-CRT,
CESA-7 IS AMONG THE WORST PERFORMING DISTRICTS.
CESA-7 RANKED 10TH OF THE 12 WISCONSIN CESA'S.
What Claire did say about her philosophy and the CESA-7 program, before she decided to refuse further comment, was that she did not think significant changes were needed in reading instruction in Wisconsin, as "only three-percent" of children were struggling to read in the state. This is a strikingly low number, one that reflects an arbitrary cutoff for special education. Her view does not reflect the painful experience of the 67% of Wisconsin 4th graders who scored below proficient on the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress.
As people in attendance at the meeting can attest, Claire also said that her approach was "not curriculum neutral" and she was taking a "strong stand" on how to teach reading. Again, when I pressed her on what these statements meant, she would only reference oblique whole language jargon, such as a belief in the principal of release from instruction. When I later asked her about finding a balance that included more phonics instruction, she said "too much emphasis" had been given to balanced literacy. After making her brief statements to the Common Core group, she said she had already disclosed too much, and refused to provide more details about the CESA-7 program.
Disregarding Research and Enormous Gains Made by other States, Wisconsin Continues to Stridently Support Whole Language
During the remainder of the day-long meeting on the 27th, I pressed the group to decide about a mechanism to achieve an expert consensus grounded in research. I suggested ways we could move beyond the clear differences that existed among us regarding how to assess and teach reading.
The end product of the meeting, however, was just a list of aspirational goals. We were told this would likely be the last meeting of the group. There was no substantive discussion about implementation of the goals--even though this had been Superintendent Evers' primary mandate for the group.
I can better understand now why Emilie kept steering the discussion back to aspirational goals. The backroom deal had already been made with Claire and other leaders of the Wisconsin State Reading Association (WSRA). It would have been inconvenient to tell me the truth.
WSRA continues to unapologetically champion a remarkably strident version of whole-language reading instruction. Please take a look at the advocacy section of their website. Their model of reading instruction has been abandoned through most the United States due to lack of research support. It is still alive and well in CESA-7, however.
Our State Motto is "Forward"
After years of failing to identify and recommend model curriculum by passing it off as an issue of local control, the DPI now purports to lead. Unfortunately, Superintendent Evers, you are now leading us backward.
Making CESA-7 your model curriculum is going to cause real harm. DPI is not only rashly and secretly endorsing what appears to be a radical version of whole language, but now school districts who have adopted research validated procedures, such as the Monroe School District, will feel themselves under pressure to fall in line with your recommended curriculum.
By all appearances, CESA-7's program is absolutely out of keeping with new Federal laws addressing Response to Intervention and Wisconsin's own Specific Learning Disability Rule. CESA-7's program will not earn us Race to the Top funding. Most significantly, CESA-7's approach is going to harm children.
In medicine we would call this malpractice. There is clear and compelling data supporting one set of interventions (Monroe), and another set of intervention that are counter-indicated (CESA-7). This is not a matter of opinion, or people taking sides. This is an empirical question. If you don't have them already, I hope you will find trusted advisors who will rise above the WSRA obfuscation and just look at the data. It is my impression that you are moving fast and receiving poor advice.
I am mystified as to why, after years of making little headway on topics related to reading, DPI is now making major decisions at a breakneck pace. Is this an effort to circumvent the Read-To-Lead Task Force by instituting new policies before the group has finished its scheduled meetings? Superintendent Evers, why haven't you shared anything about the CESA-7 curriculum with them? Have you already made your decision, or are you prepared to show the Read-To-Lead that there is a deliberative process underway to find a true model curriculum?
There are senior leaders at DPI who recognize that the reading-related input DPI has received has been substantially unbalanced. For example, there were about five senior WSRA members present at the Common Core meetings, meaning that I was substantially outnumbered. While ultimately unsuccessful due to logistics, an 11th hour effort was made to add researchers and leadership members from the Wisconsin Reading Coalition to the Common Core group.
The Leadership Group could achieve what you asked of it, which is to thoughtfully guide implementation of the Common Core. I am still willing to work with you on this goal.
State Superintendent Evers, I assume that you asked me to be a member of the Leadership Group in good faith, and will be disappointed to learn of what actually transpired with the group. You may have the false impression that CESA-7's approach was vetted at your Common Core Leadership Group. Lastly, and most importantly, I trust you have every desire to see beyond destructive politics and find a way to protect the welfare of the children of Wisconsin.
Dan Gustafson, PhD, EdM
Neuropsychologist, Dean Clinic
How does Wisconsin Compare: 2 Big Goals.
Kevin Johnson, chief executive of Juniper Networks, one of the biggest network equipment makers, talks to the FT's Paul Taylor about cloud computing, innovation, video and his worries about the failure of the US education system to produce home-grown talent
Iowa school reform legislation doesn't need consensus as much as it needs follow-through and buy-in from the top.
Teachers need to be evaluated by their peers and paid according to how well they perform in the classroom and on the test.
Principals need more training, and school districts need to be more selective in whom they hire for a building's top job. Tenure has to be earned, not once, but several times during an educator's career.
Those were just a few of the opinions aired at the Iowa Education Summit during the first day of the two-day Iowa Education Summit that brought teachers, principals, business leaders, college professors, politicians, nonprofit representatives and the nation's top educational authority, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, to Des Moines. The summit is expected to be the catalyst for a wide-reaching education reform package Gov. Terry Branstad will introduce next legislative session.
It is singular that Dickens, who was not only a radical and a social reformer, but one who would have been particularly concerned to maintain the principle of modern popular education, should nevertheless have seen so clearly this potential evil in the mere educationalism of our time -- the fact that merely educating the democracy may easily mean setting to work to despoil it of all the democratic virtues. It is better to be Lizzie Hexam and not know how to read and write than to be Charlie Hexam and not know how to appreciate Lizzie Hexam. It is not only necessary that the democracy should be taught; it is also necessary that the democracy should be taught democracy. Otherwise it will certainly fall a victim to that snobbishness and system of worldly standards which is the most natural and easy of all the forms of human corruption. This is one of the many dangers which Dickens saw before it existed. Dickens was really a prophet; far more of a prophet than Carlyle.
They're out to show private colleges can be affordable.
Weighing the costs of education (iStockPhoto)
KAI RYSSDAL: Here's something to interrupt the relaxing summer of a lot of high schoolers out there. It's usually fall of senior year or so that the college search begins in earnest. But really, why wait?
This week, all 31 private colleges in the state of Indiana are opening their doors to prospective students. A lot of states, in fact, now have some kind of private college week.
From the Marketplace Education Desk at WYPR in Baltimore, Amy Scott explains it's all about perceptions.
A health insurance company affiliated with the state's largest teachers union is caught in the cross-fire of Wisconsin school reform politics, the company's CEO told the Journal Sentinel editorial board Monday.
"We haven't really wanted to be the story," said Mark Moody, president and CEO of WEA Trust. "We've become the lightning rod for debate."
Moody said WEA Trust has lost about 17% of its subscribers as a number of school districts have switched insurance providers in the wake of deep state budget cuts. WEA Trust at the start of the year insured two-thirds of Wisconsin's 424 school districts, but only 35% of the state's teachers, since many of the insured districts are small, he said.
One renewal sweetener WEA Trust offered to districts - which the provider said was done in accordance with federal rules - may prompt legal action.
If you are passing through the halls of South High Community School in Worcester, you can always catch Joseph N. Nystrom as he high-fives students, cracks a joke and picks up crumpled pieces of paper in the hallway.
A teacher at South High for about 10 years, Mr. Nystrom is well-known for actions that grab students' attention in an effort to focus them on learning and achievement. He started out as a substitute teacher and ended up making it his career.
He is the recent recipient of the All American Teacher of the Year Award, in the Massachusetts math division. He is one of 23 U.S. teachers honored by the National Math and Science Initiative. The awards recognize outstanding math, science and English teachers in NMSI's Advanced Placement training and incentive program.
I am about to do something rash, which is to disagree with Lucy Kellaway. Last week, the fearless observer of business follies went too far: she called for PowerPoint to be banned.
The prosecution's argument is simple: many PowerPoint presentations are very bad. This is true but it hardly makes the case for a ban. Serviceable tools can produce awful results in the wrong hands, as anyone who has seen me put up shelves can attest. Banning the screwdriver is not the answer.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told an Iowa education summit Monday that Americans need to set aside political differences that divide them and unite behind reforms that will provide the educational excellence that children need to pursue their dreams in a competitive global economy.
However, Christie did not duck controversy either by calling for an overhaul of the current tenure system for teachers, saying children should not be the victims of a failing system that does not reward excellence or enforce consequences for failure.
"You have to draw some lines in the sand, but you also have to leave some room for compromise," he told reporters after delivering a half-hour address to about 1,700 participants in a summit called by Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad to brainstorm on ways to rekindle the state's once-proud tradition of educational excellence that U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said was "at the top of the mountain" in 1992.
The Chronicle of Higher Education released a report today "Great Colleges to Work for 2011" based on responses from nearly 44,000 people at 310 institutions. The University of Michigan-Ann Arbor made the list, and its profile included the institutional details displayed in the chart above: 9,652 full-time administrators and professionals vs. 6,305 full-time faculty and 1,260 part-time faculty. In other words, there are 53% more full-time administrators than full-time faculty. Is this evidence of "administrative blight."
GE Healthcare, based in Waukesha, announced Monday that it was moving its X-ray business to Beijing, China.Laurie Burkitt:
Anne LeGrand, vice president and general manager of X-ray for GE Healthcare, told Bloomberg news that "a handful" of top managers would move to Beijing. She said there would not be any job cuts.
The move of the unit to China will help "make the business more nimble and responsive while continuing to strengthen our local focus and grow our global footprint," she said.
General Electric Co. said it is moving its X-ray business headquarters to China to accelerate sales in the country's fast-growing health-care market, the latest sign of China's growing importance to the giant U.S. conglomerate.
The X-ray unit will be the company's first business to be based in China.
The business has already begun the move--which includes the unit's chief executive and three other members of its executive team--and expects to complete the process by year end, said Anne LeGrand, vice president and general manager of GE Healthcare Global X-Ray. The senior leadership team's move to Beijing is aimed in part at helping develop more medical equipment specifically for the Chinese market, Ms. LeGrand told a news briefing Monday.
GE said it doesn't expect the move to result in any job losses in the U.S., where the unit has been based in Waukesha, Wis. The Wisconsin X-ray division has 120 employees. The company also said it is too early to say how many employees it will hire for the unit's new Beijing headquarters.
Of all the problems this country faces in education, one of the most complicated, heart-wrenching and urgent is the dropout crisis. Nearly 1 million teenagers stop going to school every year.
The impact of that decision is lifelong. And the statistics are stark:
The unemployment rate for people without a high school diploma is nearly twice that of the general population.
Over a lifetime, a high school dropout will earn $200,000 less than a high school graduate and almost $1 million less than a college graduate.
Dropouts are more likely to commit crimes, abuse drugs and alcohol, become teenage parents, live in poverty and commit suicide.
Dropouts cost federal and state governments hundreds of billions of dollars in lost earnings, welfare and medical costs, and billions more for dropouts who end up in prison.
NPR is looking at the dropout crisis through the stories of five people. Three dropped out of school years ago. They talk about why they left school, the forces in their lives that contributed to that decision and its impact in the years since.
As hundreds of thousands of public school supporters gather in Washington DC the weekend of July 28 to 30, 2011, Wisconsin advocates will hold a rally in support of the Save Our Schools agenda at 3:00 PM on Saturday July 30, near the State St. entrance to the Capitol.For more information, visit: http://www.saveourschoolsmarch.org/ and http://saveourschoolswisconsin.wordpress.com/
"Public schools are under attack. There is a need for national, state, and local action in support of our schools. Wisconsin has been ground zero in this; the Save Our Schools demands from the Guiding Principles provide a great framework to build our state movement and work to expand opportunities to learn" said education activist Thomas J. Mertz.
The Save Our Schools demands are:
Doing more with less doesn't work. "The time to act is now. While phony debates revolve around debt ceilings, students and teachers across the country are shortchanged. We need real reform, starting with finally fixing the school funding formula, and putting families and communities first. What child and what teacher don't deserve an excellent school?" said rally organizer Todd Price, former Green Party Candidate for Department of Public Instruction and Professor of Teacher Education National Louis University.
- Equitable funding for all public school communities
- An end to high stakes testing used for the purpose of student, teacher, and school evaluation
- Teacher, family and community leadership in forming public education policies
- Curriculum developed for and by local school communities
The event will feature speeches from educators, students, parents and officials, as well as opportunities for school advocates from throughout Wisconsin to connect and organize around issues of importance in their communities.
A new analysis of the nation's schools found that Rhode Island falls below the national average for offering high-level curriculum such as Advanced Placement or talented and gifted programs, particularly in the more suburban districts in the state.Compare Wisconsin's results, here.
The report, which seeks to showcase what is known as the "opportunity gap" between wealthy and high-poverty school districts, actually suggests that Rhode Island offers similar chances to be involved in specialty programs in urban schools as it does in suburban schools. In fact, in some cases, the high-level programs are more available in cities like Providence than they are in Barrington.
But the reality is the state offers very little advance programming overall, meaning that while there may not be a significant gap between the city schools and the ones from more rural areas, Rhode Island schools are still being outpaced by the rest of New England and most cases, the country.
The study, which was conducted by ProPublica, found that Rhode Island falls well-behind the rest of the country when it comes to offering AP tests, advanced mathematics courses and talented and gifted programming.
More students, however, are taking chemistry and physics than in other parts of the country.
This summer, the Relay Graduate School of Education will open as New York's first standalone college of teacher preparation in nearly a century. Relay is being created out of Teacher U, a program within Hunter College and one of the many new models that have gained traction around the country. Relay preaches the practical over the theoretical -- and will have no traditional courses, no campus, no lectures -- all with the end goal of changing the way teachers in this country are taught.
"This," says Matthew Carpenter, "is my favorite exercise." I peer over his shoulder at his laptop screen to see the math problem the fifth grader is pondering. It's an inverse trigonometric function: cos-1(1) = ?
Carpenter, a serious-faced 10-year-old wearing a gray T-shirt and an impressive black digital watch, pauses for a second, fidgets, then clicks on "0 degrees." Presto: The computer tells him that he's correct. The software then generates another problem, followed by another, and yet another, until he's nailed 10 in a row in just a few minutes. All told, he's done an insane 642 inverse trig problems. "It took a while for me to get it," he admits sheepishly.
Carpenter, who attends Santa Rita Elementary, a public school in Los Altos, California, shouldn't be doing work anywhere near this advanced. In fact, when I visited his class this spring--in a sun-drenched room festooned with a papercraft X-wing fighter and student paintings of trees--the kids were supposed to be learning basic fractions, decimals, and percentages. As his teacher, Kami Thordarson, explains, students don't normally tackle inverse trig until high school, and sometimes not even then.
"This," says Matthew Carpenter, "is my favorite exercise." I peer over his shoulder at his laptop screen to see the math problem the fifth grader is pondering. It's an inverse trigonometric function: cos-1(1) = ?
Carpenter, a serious-faced 10-year-old wearing a gray T-shirt and an impressive black digital watch, pauses for a second, fidgets, then clicks on "0 degrees." Presto: The computer tells him that he's correct. The software then generates another problem, followed by another, and yet another, until he's nailed 10 in a row in just a few minutes. All told, he's done an insane 642 inverse trig problems. "It took a while for me to get it," he admits sheepishly.
Carpenter, who attends Santa Rita Elementary, a public school in Los Altos, California, shouldn't be doing work anywhere near this advanced. In fact, when I visited his class this spring--in a sun-drenched room festooned with a papercraft X-wing fighter and student paintings of trees--the kids were supposed to be learning basic fractions, decimals, and percentages. As his teacher, Kami Thordarson, explains, students don't normally tackle inverse trig until high school, and sometimes not even then.
As Iowa political and education leaders prepare to make sweeping changes in the state's schools, experts monitoring similar efforts across the country caution that much of what is being tried is still controversial and uncharted territory.
- A growing body of anecdotal evidence and research supports the push toward longer school days and years to benefit students' academic achievement, especially among low-income or disadvantaged children. But the cost-benefit ratio of such moves remains fiercely debated and some experiments have had mixed results.
John Behrens directs Cisco's Networking Academy. They partner with 10,000 schools in 160 countries and provide free online courses on computer networking. In addition to being an important workforce development strategy, they wanted the Academy to be an important demonstration project for eLearning.
Prior to joining Cisco in 2000, John was a professor of education at ASU. John directs curriculum, assessment, and technology associated with the Academies, so he has the opportunity to create a fully aligned instructional system with an integrated data architecture behind it.
The Academy serves high school and post secondary students interested in careers in networking and IT as well as students that just want broader job skills. They serve 1 million students annually and deliver 40,000 exams most weekdays.
During the past semester, a time where I constantly felt split between my academic life and my civic life, I became acutely aware of an attitude among undergraduates that perplexed me. I tried writing about it , describing what readers pointed out (in a far more articulate manner than I'd managed) was a notable lack of empathy among some students.
Since I've spent the last 10 years trying to make convince higher education institutions to prioritize their students' needs and desires, these realizations about who some of the students seemed to be and especially what they seemed to believe, made me pretty depressed. Don't get me wrong: it's not that I expect students to speak and act in one voice--far from it, given how much I value the democratic process. I don't want them to share my opinions or perspectives, but rather simply want them to formulate opinions and perspectives after asking good questions and gathering and evaluating information. But what I hope for, most of all, is their recognition that they are part of a worldwide community of students, and their strength lies in that community. I hope that such a larger sense of the world will guide them to think of more than themselves, and to act for the greater good.
A heat dome has settled over much of American education. Is Gov. Scott Walker just going to add to the stifling atmosphere? Or is Walker right that there are cool breezes in his ideas for how to increase school quality overall?
First, the national perspective: You would think by now, the heat would have been drained from some of the debate about what works in education, especially when it comes to serving urban kids. People have been working on this for decades. Haven't we figured out answers yet?
In most ways, no. Even a lot of things that seem like answers haven't been brought successfully to wide use. Things that look good on paper (or in a political speech) have often accomplished little in reality. The profoundly troubling march to perpetuating educational failure, for the most part, continues.
As disappointment grows, the debates between "education reformers" and those who think the "reformers" are going in the wrong directions often have been contentious. If you follow the tweets and postings and such, you'll find occasional light but a lot of heated rhetoric. Add in this year's wars over the pay, benefits and unions of public employees, combined with the hyperpartisan nature of the times, and you have an atmosphere that should carry health warnings.
For a measure that was supposed to have been stripped of all policy measures, the 148-page K-12 education bill lawmakers approved early Wednesday morning, scarcely an hour after it was released, contains an awful lot of specific, prescriptive language laying out how Minnesota school districts and their staffs are to go about their business.
As expected, the hydrogen bomb at the center of it is the nonpolicy decision to balance the budget by allowing the state to withhold 40 percent of education funding for a year after it's due, and nothing even approximating a roadmap for paying it back.
And the devastation the shift will cause is where most of the educators canvassed on Wednesday would like the public's attention to stay, given that the cumulative deficit it has caused is about an eye-popping $3 billion. That's some $3,000 per pupil, or more than half the annual general fund appropriation.
Recently, the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) announced a redesign of all education programs within its six universities and 13 community colleges called "Ready2Teach." The TBR is initiating change in the process of preparing new teachers for public school classrooms.
Although as a private college, Maryville College is not governed by the TBR, our goal in the teacher education program is to equip our teacher licensure students with research-based knowledge and skills that will facilitate the learning for all children. My concern about the June 13 Associated Press story about Ready2Teach that ran in the News Sentinel, and across the state, was the inaccuracies about how we currently prepare new public school teachers. Here are a few misconceptions:
n Education majors spend most of their time in college listening to lectures about teaching methods or education theory.
When I was growing up, there was a special mystique about teachers. They were looked up to and respected. No matter if you liked a teacher or not, you appreciated his or her efforts to educate children and prepare them for their future, no matter what that future would be.
Today, teachers are being portrayed as self-centered union lackeys who feel entitled to extraordinary benefits provided by taxpayers. Teachers appear to have suddenly morphed from members of a noble profession to members of the world's oldest profession. What a turnaround.
My teachers over the years left an indelible mark on me and the person I became. They helped shape me, gave me encouragement and taught me to think for myself and question the status quo.
My first-grade teacher was Miss Darling (honestly). She was a sweet lady who I remember for her kindness and her patience as I struggled to master the simple act of tying my shoes. It has been almost 50 years since then, but I remember her clearly, drying my tears of frustration and embarrassment and helping me practice until I could finally tie my shoes.
There's lots of discussion regarding the pros and cons of tenure. The Trenton Times describes an instance that highlights the difficulties school districts face in dismissing tenured employees. Rayshaun Davis, a member of one of the Trenton Public Schools unions, the Business-Technical Employees Association, was assigned as a Youth Development Liaison at Trenton Central High in a program designed to "help students avoid teen pregnancy, substance abuse and other pitfalls of at-risk youth."
Here's the current contract for the union.
Massachusetts' METCO program (Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity) enables about 3,300 students who live in Boston and Springfield to attend opportunity-rich suburban schools. Since the vast majority of the students in METCO are either African American or Latino and most suburban districts remain overwhelmingly white, METCO fulfills two goals: it creates a degree of racial and ethnic diversity and provides students who'd otherwise attend challenged school districts the opportunity to attend schools with reputations for rigor and excellence.
METCO is one of eight voluntary interdistrict school desegregation programs in the United States and the second longest-running program of its kind. This paper describes the structure and history of METCO and summarizes what is known about the academic achievement and experiences of students who participate in the program. We argue that given METCO's generally positive track record, its enduring popularity and the well-established benefits of racial and ethnic diversity in schools, educational leaders should seriously consider expanding METCO, should provide more incentives to suburban districts to participate and should conduct more rigorous, transparent analyses of the program.
For nearly two decades the Tax Foundation has published an estimate of the combined state-local tax burden shouldered by the residents of each of the 50 states. For each state, we calculate the total amount paid by the residents in taxes, then divide those taxes by the state's total income to compute a "tax burden." We make this calculation not only for the most recent year but also for earlier years because tax and income data are revised periodically by government agencies.
The goal is to focus not on the tax collectors but on the taxpayers. That is, we answer the question: What percentage of their income are the residents of this state paying in state and local taxes? We are not trying to answer the question: How much money have state and local governments collected?
William Klein'a story may sound familiar to his fellow graduates. After earning his bachelor's in history from the College at Brockport, he found himself living in his parents' Buffalo home, working the same $7.25-an-hour waiter job he had in high school.
It wasn't that there weren't other jobs out there. It's that they all seemed to want more education. Even tutoring at a for-profit learning center or leading tours at a historic site required a master's. "It's pretty apparent that with the degree I have right now, there are not too many jobs I would want to commit to," Mr. Klein says.
So this fall, he will sharpen his marketability at Rutgers' new master's program in Jewish studies (think teaching, museums and fund-raising in the Jewish community). Jewish studies may not be the first thing that comes to mind as being the road to career advancement, and Mr. Klein is not sure exactly where the degree will lead him (he'd like to work for the Central Intelligence Agency in the Middle East). But he is sure of this: he needs a master's. Browse professional job listings and it's "bachelor's required, master's preferred."
If you're a politician who has all kinds of things to say about public education, do voters have the right to know where you send your children to school?
That's a question that seems to be surfacing a lot lately. A few weeks ago, on NBC's "Meet the Press," Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, as vicious a critic of teachers unions as exists among American politicians today, repeated his assertion that where he chooses as a parent to educate his four children (Catholic schools, as it turns out) is nobody's business.
This week, Rahm Emanuel, the newly installed mayor of Chicago, stormed out of an interview when asked the same question, which he apparently considered a violation of his privacy. Mr. Emanuel, who has also called for school reforms, is sending his children to the same private school the Obama girls once attended.
"My children are not in a public position," Mr. Emanuel testily told the local NBC reporter who asked the question. "The mayor is."
While many of their friends are hanging out at the mall or beach, about 20 Connecticut high school students are spending much of their summer vacation in the classroom.
It's an increasingly common scene nationwide as educators, seeking new ways to recruit teachers in critical shortage areas, are embracing a "grow your own" approach by introducing the profession to teens as early as middle school.
And while many of the programs are too new to determine how many of the teens eventually enter the field, the longest-running initiatives -- such as Eastern Connecticut State University's program -- have tracked many of their alumni through college and into jobs as teachers, guidance counselors and school social workers.
One of the foundation's main initial interests was schools with fewer students. In 2004 it announced that it would spend $100 million to open 20 small high schools in San Diego, Denver, New York City and elsewhere. Such schools, says Mr. Gates, were designed to--and did--promote less acting up in the classroom, better attendance and closer interaction with adults.Much more on Small Learning Communities, here.
"But the overall impact of the intervention, particularly the measure we care most about--whether you go to college--it didn't move the needle much," he says. "Maybe 10% more kids, but it wasn't dramatic. . . . We didn't see a path to having a big impact, so we did a mea culpa on that." Still, he adds, "we think small schools were a better deal for the kids who went to them."
The reality is that the Gates Foundation met the same resistance that other sizeable philanthropic efforts have encountered while trying to transform dysfunctional urban school systems run by powerful labor unions and a top-down government monopoly provider.
In the 1970s, the Ford, Carnegie and Rockefeller foundations, among others, pushed education "equity" lawsuits in California, New Jersey, Texas and elsewhere that led to enormous increases in state expenditures for low-income students. In 1993, the publishing mogul Walter Annenberg, hoping to "startle" educators and policy makers into action, gave a record $500 million to nine large city school systems. Such efforts made headlines but not much of a difference in closing the achievement gap.
Asked to critique these endeavors, Mr. Gates demurs: "I applaud people for coming into this space, but unfortunately it hasn't led to significant improvements." He also warns against overestimating the potential power of philanthropy. "It's worth remembering that $600 billion a year is spent by various government entities on education, and all the philanthropy that's ever been spent on this space is not going to add up to $10 billion. So it's truly a rounding error."
A new report from the Department of Social and Health Services summarizes a teenager's life and death in eight pages. After bouncing him through 22 foster homes, it concludes that caseworkers and foster parents should have had more information about the boy's history so they could have helped him.
Roger Eugene Benson was in state care when he left a group home in January, walked to a freeway overpass, jumped to I-5 below and died after being struck by a van. People who witnessed the suicide were horrified. People who didn't know what was going were angry by the traffic delays caused when the Interstate was shut down during the afternoon commute.
In calling the State Patrol that day, I found out the victim was 15 years old. That struck me because I have a 15-year-old daughter. This kid, the boy who killed himself on I-5 , was somebody's son.
What went wrong in his life?
Benson was born in December of 1995. His history with the state began when he was a toddler. His mother was investigated for abuse or neglect of her children, including Benson, six times. The last time CPS was called, in May of 1998, Benson was placed in protective custody. The boy and his siblings were placed in four foster homes within three years. The longest he was in any one home was two years.
JEFFREY BROWN: Welcome once again to Art Beat. I'm Jeffrey Brown. This week the Lincoln Center Institute, which is the education arm of Lincoln Center in New York, is holding what it bills as the first national conference focused on making imagination an integral part of American education. Scott Noppe-Brandon is the executive director of the institute, and he joins us now from New York. Welcome to you.
SCOTT NOPPE-BRANDON: Thanks, Jeff. Great to be with you again.
JEFFREY BROWN: What do you mean by imagination and why a conference?
SCOTT NOPPE-BRANDON: First, imagination for us is the capacity or ability to think of things as if they could be otherwise, to ask the 'what if' question. Creativity, by the way, for us is imagination enacted, using the formal language of a discipline to enact that imagination. And we take it to innovation, which for us is a new outcome pushing the forum in some way. The question of why a summit or why a discussion around it -- the answer or the reason is that we believe if we can bring together influencers from commerce, culture and education, including science and business, we can have a discussion of why imagination and creativity in relationship to standards and accountability is an important statement for education in the United States today.
JEFFREY BROWN: The argument, if I get from reading the literature, is that imagination is a skill that can and should be taught in the schools.
Even as schools aim to better prepare students for a global work force, fewer than one in three American students are proficient in geography, with most eighth graders unable to explain what causes earthquakes or accurately describe the American Southwest, according to a report released Tuesday morning.
Over all, high school seniors demonstrated the least proficiency on a 2010 test, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the nation's geography report card, with 20 percent found to be proficient or better, compared with 27 percent of eighth graders and 21 percent of fourth graders.
The average test score for 12th graders declined to 282 (on a scale of 500) from 284 in 2001 when the test was last given. It remained essentially unchanged for eighth graders during that period, though there were gains among the lowest-performing students. Fourth graders had the largest gains, with the average score rising to 213, up five points from 2001.
When governments want to encourage what they believe is beneficial behavior, they subsidize it. Sounds like good public policy.
But there can be problems. Behavior that is beneficial for most people may not be so for everybody. And government subsidies can go too far.
Subsidies create incentives for what economists call rent-seeking behavior. Providers of supposedly beneficial goods or services try to sop up as much of the subsidy money as they can by raising prices. After all, their customers are paying with money supplied by the government.
Bubble money, as it turns out. And sooner or later, bubbles burst.
Gov. Terry Branstad appeared in the gym at Corning Elementary this morning for an town hall meeting on education, a day after his administration released a school report card that found "an alarming slide toward mediocrity."Newton Daily News:
The purpose of the meeting was to get ideas on how to improve Iowa schools. Branstad asserts that Iowa's school performance has stagnated while other states have jumped ahead.
"We've been complacent too long," Branstad said.
Branstad told the Associated Press that education reform would be central to the next legislative session, which begins in January, and he argued that it was vital to change how teachers are paid. In addition to linking increased pay to classroom performance, Branstad said the state should consider increasing starting salaries.
Iowa's education system may be in need of a major remodel. Students are missing the mark in math and reading competency while their counterparts in other states have made significant gains, according to a new report released today by the Iowa Department of Education.Related: www.wisconsin2.org.
Achievement trends show stagnant scores across the board, from disadvantaged and minority students to white, relatively affluent students. The results document Iowa's slide from a national leader in education to a national average, or sometimes below average, performer over the past 20 years.
"There are many good schools across the state, but given the global nature of the economy, we need them to be great," said Jason Glass, director of the Iowa Department of Education. "We must have a world-class education system to have a world-class workforce."
Iowa has slid from a national leader in elementary and secondary education to an average performer over the past 20 years as other states accelerated past it, according to a state report released today.Wisconsin has slid, as well.
The Iowa report card -- the first released under Republican Gov. Terry Branstad -- provides an unvarnished assessment of the state's academic performance and sounds a clarion call to improve. The report, "Rising to Greatness: An Imperative for Improving Iowa's Schools," says performance on various national and state tests show "an alarming slide toward mediocrity."
In some ways, Iowa public schools have improved over years past, but other states have surged ahead, said Jason Glass, director of the Iowa Department of Education, which produced the report.
Restoring the greatness of Iowa schools will require more than "tinkering around the edges," he said.
The state's largest teachers union will not participate in discussions led by Gov. Scott Walker and State Superintendent Tony Evers to develop a new statewide school accountability system.
Instead, starting in September, the Wisconsin Education Association Council will collect input from teachers and communities around the state about their priorities related to school accountability, WEAC president Mary Bell said in a conference call Friday.
Bell said her organization supports Evers, but doesn't trust Walker or Republican legislators on the task force.
"How can we trust the governor to be a credible partner on education issues when they just passed laws to make massive cuts to school funding and silence our voices in schools?" Bell said.
Bryan Kennedy, president of AFT-Wisconsin, said he also declined an invitation to participate.
I understand that CNN plans to broadcast a feature on U.S. History in the schools at 8am EST on Tuesday, July 26, 2011.
This will include interviews with some of the high school authors whose history research papers were published by The Concord Review in recent issues.
"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 USA
Varsity Academics® www.tcr.org/blog
Though few would dispute its value, the job of providing apprenticeships for some 200,000 teacher candidates each year in real classrooms is a massive and complex undertaking. About 1,400 higher education institutions work with many thousands of school districts across the United States to place, mentor and supervise teacher candidates in what is popularly known as "student teaching."1Related: Teacher colleges balk at being rated Wisconsin schools say quality survey from national nonprofit and magazine won't be fair.
Even as the profession pushes for more and earlier field work opportunities, student teaching is the final clinical experience.2 During the typical semester-long experience, student teaching candidates must synthesize everything they have learned about planning instruction: collecting or developing instructional materials, teaching lessons, guiding small group activities, and establishing and maintaining order--not to mention meetings with faculty and parents and, in some districts still, taking on lunchroom and playground duties. Passing (or failing) student teaching determines whether an individual will be recommended for certification as a licensed teacher.
Because few dispute the tremendous potential value of student teaching, even alternate pathways to profession, often criticized for taking too many shortcuts, generally try to provide their teaching candidates with some kind of student teaching experience, however abbreviated. Surveys of new teachers suggest that student teaching is the most important part of their teaching training experience.3
We're stuck and $365 million may not help. The United States places an unusual degree of importance on the reliability of yearend standardized tests. These tests have been around for 15 years and, because we have so little performance data, we try to use them for a variety of purposes. For many reasons, the tests haven't improved much. The new barrier is the dual fixation on cost and comparability.
Innovation occurs when markets are efficient--where supply meets demand, where consumers quickly (and often ruthlessly) express preferences, where risk is rewarded with return. Blockages can occur either on the buy or the sell side, but they often slump into complacency together.
In the case of educational testing, we have a set of complicated political problems resulting in weak demand for assessment innovation. The next generation of artificial intelligence will help make better test items faster and cheaper to score. But this is more a political problem than a technical problem.
The Ivy League will announce on Wednesday that, in an effort to minimize head injuries among its football players, it will sharply reduce the number of allowable full-contact practices teams can hold.
The changes, to be implemented this season, go well beyond the rules set by the N.C.A.A. and are believed to be more stringent than those of any other conference. The league will also review the rules governing men's and women's hockey, lacrosse and soccer to determine if there are ways to reduce hits to the head and concussions in those sports.
The new rules will be introduced as a growing amount of research suggests that limiting full-contact practices may be among the most practical ways of reducing brain trauma among football players. According to a study of three Division I college teams published last year in the Journal of Athletic Training, college players sustain more total hits to the head in practices than in games.
You've got to be wondering what a teacher like me is doing marching against the "reform" trends. For those of you unfamiliar with my background, I graduated with a degree in Computer Science from Syracuse University. A year later, after 6-8 months of unemployment and a stint as a data entry person at an educational database firm, I went into the NYC Teaching Fellows program, an offshoot of Michelle Rhee's New Teacher Project. On the surface, I'm a perfect candidate to follow the corporatist thinking about education, and should be easily molded into the dominant thinking from elites who ostensibly believe they're going into education for the common good. All it takes is the right amount of fear, the right amount of frustration, the right amount of ignorance, and the right amount of failure to tip people into the hands of those who wish to rotate our profession backwards.
Fortunately for me, I lucked out. And if you're reading this, I'm thinking the same goes for you.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who strongly supports school reform that centers on standardized test-based accountability for students, schools and teachers, has decided to send his children to a private school that doesn't obsess on standardized tests.
Emanuel, who served in the White House as President Obama's chief of staff for a few years, and his wife have chosen, according to a local radio station CBS News 2 in Chicago, to send their three children to the prestigious University of Chicago Laboratory Schools in Hyde Park.
It's the same school that President Obama's daughters attended when they lived in Chicago. Sasha and Malia Obama now attend the private Sidwell Friends School.
More than a third of people in Glasgow North East have no school qualifications.
A table published by the University and College Union (UCU) showed 35.3% of those of working age left school without passing a single examination.
The result gives the area the lowest rating in the UK.
Every Edinburgh constituency was placed in the top third for educational achievement. Every constituency in Glasgow was below the British average.
The best result in Scotland was for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, where only 4.4% of people had no qualifications.
As promised, this is my follow-up post based on our trip to the Save Texas Schools conference in Austin this past weekend. It was a sobering experience. The long and the short of it is this: Texas has abandoned its children. The Governor and the Legislators in Austin have set the stage for a protracted crisis not only in education but in the State economy. With respect to the former, we can look forward to larger class sizes, the elimination of many important programs, and the placing of even more responsibility of the backs of overworked (and fewer) teachers. Texas already ranked an embarrassing 44th in education and these developments do not bode well for future of the Lone Star State. As far as the economy is concerned, every public education layoff means less income not only for those individuals, but for local businesses where they would have shopped. Indeed, the Legislative Budget Board forecast that almost 45% of job losses would actually be in the private sector (Center for Public Policy Priorities: CPPP Urges Rejection of HB1). Furthermore, the lack of a decent education will greatly reduce the future earning power of Texans. The only firms willing to relocate here will be those hoping to find a source of cheap, low-skilled laborers. Texas will become the alternative to outsourcing to an impoverished, third-world country. The stars at night no longer look so big and bright.
There will be no courses at the Relay Graduate School of Education, the first standalone college of teacher preparation to open in New York State for nearly 100 years. Instead, there will be some 60 modules, each focused on a different teaching technique. There will be no campus, because it is old-think to believe a building makes a school. Instead, the graduate students will be mentored primarily at the schools where they teach. And there will be no lectures. Direct instruction, as such experiences will be called, should not take place for more than 15 or 20 minutes at a time. After that, students should discuss ideas with one another or reflect on their own.
A collaborator pointed out this nice figure (from the paper below), which is pretty self-explanatory, but let me emphasize the fairly wide SES (socioeconomic status) range of families under consideration. If SES were determined solely by household income the four categories in the graph would range from below $20k to above $100k per annum (2003 US income data).
See related posts SES and IQ and Random microworlds.
Note to Tiger Moms and Sociologists: Shared genes make people more alike, but shared family environment does not (very much). Feel free to disregard, though. Who needs data when you have an opinion? :-)
First, a college education costs too much. Middle-class families can no longer afford tuition that increases faster than inflation, per capita personal income, consumer prices and even health insurance. Total student loan debt in America is $1 trillion and exceeds credit card debt. Taxpayer money stretches only so far, with health care, public safety and K-12 education claiming ever larger shares of state budgets.
Second, the higher education industry is undergoing a complete restructuring. Technology is fundamentally altering how courses are created and taught while upending the cost structure of delivery. New entrants - from for-profit white-label degree providers like 2tor to nonprofits like Khan Academy - are bringing disruptive innovation.
Education officials across the state spent the day poring over the $13.6 billion dollar K-12 education budget bill that Gov. Dayton signed into law Wednesday.
The central provision of the bill is a $700 million delay in state aid payments for schools, a critical and controversial element for balancing the budget. School districts will need to figure out how to manage that funding delay -- which they've had to do before.
Think of the delay in schools' state aid payments this way:
Your boss says to balance the company budget, she needs to borrow money from your paycheck. She'll pay you 60 percent of your salary this year, and repay the other 40 percent next year.
Meanwhile your bills are still the same, so you'll likely need to borrow money to meet all your obligations. And even though you'll get all your money next year, you're on the hook for loan interest payments in the meantime.
Congratulations to the students, teachers and administrators of the Blackstone Valley Mayoral Academy, in Cumberland, who have achieved something extraordinary. All 152 of the kindergarten and first-grade students in the school who took the state Developmental Reading Assessment this year scored proficient, or better.
"To my knowledge, this is the first time in Rhode Island that every student at a school scored proficient or better on this early-grade assessment!" wrote Rhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah Gist in a congratulatory letter.
Literacy in the early grades is obviously a crucial foundation for learning throughout one's school years, so this unprecedented achievement is one to celebrate.
Higher education in this state has been studied before. Scholars have offered opinions. Commissions have issued reports.
"Report after report," is how Lindsey Alexander put it.
As a project manager for the Citizens League, Alexander is helping produce the next one. Since January, the league, along with the Bush Foundation, has been studying how higher education might be reformed.
Will its findings have more power than reports past?
The timing might be right.
The University of Minnesota, the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system and the Minnesota Private College Council all have new leaders. That's led to predictions of more willingness for reform.
This piece is part of a leadership roundtable on the right way to approach teacher incentives -- with opinion pieces by Duke University behavioral economics professor Dan Ariely, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Harvard Graduate School of Education professor Howard Gardner, and Washington Post columnist Steven Pearlstein.
In recent years there seems to have been a surge in academic dishonesty across many high schools. No doubt this can be explained in part by increased vigilance and reporting, greater pressure on students to succeed, and the communicable nature of dishonest behavior (when people see others do something, whether it's tweaking a resume or parking illegally, they're more likely to do the same).
But, I also think that a fourth, significant cause in this worrisome trend has to do with the way we measure and reward teachers.
To think about the effects of these measurements, let's first think about corporate America, where measurement of performance has a much longer history. Recently I met with one of the CEOs I most respect, and he told me a story about when he himself messed up the incentives for his employees, by over-measurement. A few years earlier he had tried to create a specific performance evaluation matrix for each of his top employees, and he asked them to focus on optimizing that particular measure; for some it was selection of algorithms, for others it was return on investment for advertising, and so on. He also changed their compensation structure so that 10 percent of their bonus depended on their performance relative to that measure.
In the wake of the Atlanta cheating scandal and recent cheating allegations in other school districts (including Washington, DC), On Leadership convened a roundtable on how best to approach teacher incentives in the U.S. education system -- with opinion pieces by Duke University behavioral economics professor Dan Ariely, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Harvard Graduate School of Education professor Howard Gardner, and Washington Post columnist Steven Pearlstein.
Recent news reports of widespread or suspected cheating on standardized tests in several school districts around the country have been taken by some as evidence that we must reduce reliance on testing to measure student growth and achievement. Others have gone even farther, claiming that cheating is an inevitable consequence of "high-stakes testing" and that we should abandon testing altogether.
Former local business executive Erroll Davis, 66, who was chairman and CEO at Alliant Energy and then led the University System of Georgia, has now been tapped to lead the embattled Atlanta Public Schools.
The largest district in Georgia, with about 50,000 students, is reeling from a scathing, 800-page report released July 5 that showed nearly 180 teachers and school administrators were involved in systematically changing students' test answers at 44 of 56 of Atlanta's elementary and middle schools accused of cheating. The adults provided answers to students or erased and corrected tests so students appeared to be performing at or above local and national performance benchmarks.
A National Guard school program for at-risk teenagers is scheduled to open in 2012 in eastern Kentucky.
The Appalachian Youth ChalleNGe Academy, to be housed in a renovated former elementary school, will be the second ChalleNGE school in Kentucky. Bluegrass ChalleNGe Academy at Fort Knox opened in 1999.
"Here in Harlan, we found a county with a school system that was willing to help make a program," said Col. John Wayne Smith, director of the Fort Knox program. "We believe that with an academy here, we will be able to get kids to come who wouldn't come to Fort Knox."
The primary recruiting area for the new program is 23 counties in eastern Kentucky, with any remaining openings being offered to teens in the Appalachian region of neighboring states, Smith said last week in the Harlan Daily Enterprise.
"I was looking at the numbers in our target population. I found that Appalachia has a higher rate of these kids, but we also found that because of positive family connections in the area, youth are hesitant to leave and come to Fort Knox. We have had a few come to us, but nothing like the numbers we should be getting," he said at a community meeting.
"What are the right incentives to have in place for teachers?" The very question itself is jarring. It implies that teachers don't want to perform well and that they need incentives, which in today's parlance translates into rewards (money) and reprimands (fear of loss of benefits or position).
Let me present a very different picture: Teachers should be regarded as and behave like professionals. A professional is a certified expert who is afforded prestige and autonomy in return for performing at a high level, which includes making complex and disinterested judgments under conditions of uncertainty. Professionals deserve to live comfortably, but they do not enter the ranks of a profession in order obtain wealth or power; they do it out of a calling to serve. Be it law, medicine, auditing, education or science, the expectation is the same: professionals should work hard to gain the requisite credentials, behave ethically as well as legally, and when they err, should take responsibility for their error and try to learn from it.
Days after California's public universities handed lucrative new pay and bonuses to three executives and a chancellor while raising student tuition, a state senator has introduced a bill to make such pay increases illegal in tough economic times.
The bill, filed Monday by state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, would prohibit executive pay increases at the University of California and California State University in years when the state does not raise its allocation to the schools.
This year, California slashed $650 million from each university system. In response, the UC regents and CSU trustees raised tuition last week, both for the second time in less than a year. CSU tuition is 23 percent higher than it was last fall. UC tuition is 18 percent higher.
At the same time, CSU trustees approved a $400,000 salary for Elliot Hirshman, incoming president of the San Diego campus, that is $100,000 higher than his predecessor. The campus foundation will pay for $50,000 of it.
Universities are keen to present themselves as morally upright organisations committed to the very highest standard of conduct.
In recent years, a lot of attention has focused on ethics in research. Here, universities have introduced tight rules and approval processes for academics wanting to do research on human subjects.
But one of the most significant ethical issues in university life receives far less attention. This is how universities handle romantic and sexual relationships between faculty and students.
Submit your solutions, or nominate a project for this competition, before August 3, 2011, to create new opportunities for students and schools.
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WHEN school textbooks make the headlines in East Asia, they are usually cast as bystanders to some intractable old dispute, and related demands that children be taught "correct" history. Thankfully though, future-minded officials in South Korea have given cause for this correspondent to write about something altogether different: by 2015, all of the country's dead-tree textbooks will be phased out, in favour of learning materials carried on tablet computers and other devices.
The cost of setting up the network will be $2.1 billion. It is hoped that cutting out printing costs will go some way towards compensating for this expenditure. Environmentalists will of course be pleased, regardless. A cloud network will be set up to host digital copies of all existing textbooks, and to give students the (possibly unwelcome) ability to access materials at any time, via iPads, smartphones, netbooks, and even Stone-Age PCs. Kids will need to come up with a new range of excuses for not doing their homework: the family dog cannot be blamed for eating a computer, nor can a file hosted on a cloud network be left behind on a bus.
The Madison School District has reached an agreement with its teachers union over changes to planning time -- a resolution Superintendent Dan Nerad said fits within the bounds of the state's new collective bargaining law.
An earlier proposal prompted hundreds of teachers to protest at a School Board meeting in May and Madison Teachers Inc. executive director John Matthews to threaten a job action if the matter wasn't resolved.
The issue relates to changes in the district's 2011-13 collective bargaining agreement with MTI, which was approved in March before the state's collective bargaining law took effect.
In the past, disagreements over contract language were often resolved through memorandums of understanding (MOUs). But once the collective bargaining law took effect June 29, districts that approved contracts after Feb. 1 couldn't modify them through MOUs, or else they would be
Read more: http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/education/local_schools/article_82b5f386-b25e-11e0-873a-001cc4c03286.html#ixzz1SblqTZYo
Update: I originally thought this was from a teacher but it is from a parent. My apologies
Below is a post from a parent, "No Confidence," from another thread but I read it and said bingo! (Emphasis mine.)
I think that the first change that could make some difference would be for teacher & administrators to understand the limits of their abilities to assess. At least the teacher could say, Sally is learning differently than many other kids I see and we don't know why. Johnny is refusing to do writing assignments and we don't know why.
Next I think that PD should include training about learning & developmental differences, with case studies, to the extent that at least teacher are familiar with the possibilities. (I have spoken with so many SPS teachers & administrators who believe that twice exceptional kids don't exist.) There are signs to look for.
Raising new questions about the effectiveness of school discipline, a report scheduled for release on Tuesday found that 31 percent of Texas students were suspended off campus or expelled at least once during their years in middle and high school — at an average of almost four times apiece.Morgan Smith & Ari Auber:
When also considering less serious infractions punished by in-school suspensions, the rate climbed to nearly 60 percent, according to the study by the Council of State Governments, with one in seven students facing such disciplinary measures at least 11 times.
The study linked these disciplinary actions to lower rates of graduation and higher rates of later criminal activity and found that minority students were more likely than whites to face the more severe punishments.
Almost 55 percent of recent Texas public school students — a disproportionate number of them African-American or with learning disabilities — were suspended at least once between their seventh and 12th grade years, according to a statewide report released today.A few local links including a gangs and school violence forum.
The Council of State Governments Justice Center, in partnership with the Public Policy Research Institute of Texas A&M University, analyzed the individual school records of all Texas seventh grade public school students during the years 2000, 2001 and 2002. They tracked the records of nearly 1 million students for at least six years of their secondary school education.
Teachers' Unions: Back to the Future. Back in 1998, the Illinois Education Association commissioned the Global Business Network to assess the union's direction for the next 10-15 years and help devise options for dealing with possible scenarios. The result, a report titled The Future of the Illinois Education Association [3.1MB PDF], is a fascinating read not just for its insights into the union's strategic thinking, but for which "predictions" it got right and wrong.Fascinating.
I put the scare quotes around "predictions" because GBN was explicit in stating that the possible scenarios it outlined were not predictions, but merely various possibilities for which the union should plan. As the authors put it, "After imaginatively dwelling in each scenario, participants can develop strategic options that are appropriate to managing in just that scenario."
GBN developed a matrix of four scenarios, based on the variables of strong vs. weak political environments, and strong vs. weak membership connection with the union. Each of the four contains at least some relevance to current events, although other aspects read like one of those "flying car, food pills" science fiction stories written in the 1930s about life in the 1970s.
Last week I saw two women getting into a cab outside an office in central London. Both were in high heels and smart suits and were struggling with a flip chart, its pages flapping in the wind. The quaint sight of the large pad on aluminium legs filled me with longing for the days when people giving presentations wrote things down with felt pens on big sheets of paper.
I might have forgotten this scene, were it not for the fact that the very next day I was sent an invitation to join a brand new political party in Switzerland, the Anti PowerPoint party. "Finally do something!" its slogan says.
Actually I've been quietly doing something for years: I've been declining to learn how to use the ubiquitous piece of software. As a presenter, I'm a PowerPoint virgin, though as an audience member I've been gang raped by PowerPoint slides more times than I can count.
THE United States supports schools in Afghanistan because we know that education is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to build a country.
Alas, we've forgotten that lesson at home. All across America, school budgets are being cut, teachers laid off and education programs dismantled.
My beloved old high school in Yamhill, Ore. -- a plain brick building that was my rocket ship -- is emblematic of that trend. There were only 167 school days in the last school year here (180 was typical until the recession hit), and the staff has been reduced by 9 percent over five years.
This school was where I embraced sports, became a journalist, encountered intellectual worlds, and got in trouble. These days, the 430 students still have opportunities to get into trouble, but the rest is harder.
Milwaukee Public Schools laid off 519 employees after losing about $80 million in the state's new two-year budget - which dramatically reduces education spending statewide - but most other Wisconsin districts have avoided layoffs and massive cuts to programs.
School districts' ability under Gov. Scott Walker's budget-repair legislation to obtain greater contributions from employees toward health care and retirement costs, and to work outside of collective bargaining agreements, appears to have generated the necessary savings to balance most budgets.
Some districts are even hiring new teachers for the 2011-'12 academic year.
Critics say that a good financial picture now for schools will be short-lived, and that most districts will nose-dive next year because the recently acquired savings are a one-time fix.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has been at odds with state schools chief Tony Evers over budget cuts, vouchers and teachers' collective-bargaining rights. But they have found common ground in their aggravation with No Child Left Behind.
Messrs. Walker and Evers formed a joint committee this month that will write a new state policy to replace the federal law requiring schools to ensure all students are passing state math and reading exams by 2014. No Child Left Behind is "broken," they have said.
"We are not trying to get around accountability," Mr. Walker, a Republican, said in a phone interview. "But instead of using the blanket approach that defines a lot of schools as failures, we will use a more strategic approach so we can replicate success and address failure."
Wisconsin and other states say No Child Left Behind unfairly penalizes schools that don't meet rigid requirements. Tired of waiting for Congress to overhaul the law, some states have taken matters into their own hands.
My son is left-handed, has very messy handwriting and an awkward pencil grip that slows his writing hugely. I've tried to show him a more comfortable grip but find it difficult as I'm right-handed. I've also mentioned it to the teacher but it hasn't made any difference.
Handwriting is certainly trickier for left-handers. They are often unable to see what they have just written so it is not unusual for them to develop an awkward grip and an uncomfortable posture, often tilting their paper to severe angles. It's a hard habit to change.
Alice Wong considered herself an avid reader, but it didn't occur to her that she might have to learn how to read to her two young children. She was even less aware that courses were available to teach this skill.
"I never used to understand the power of reading," says Wong, who has a four-year-old son and a two-year-old daughter.
Leung Yuk-yin had enrolled her son in kindergarten in the early 1990s when she saw a television commercial calling for people to sign on as foster families. The recruitment drive rolled out at just the right time. Her boy was settling in nicely in the nursery, so the housewife from Tuen Mun suddenly found herself with time to spare.
"I like babies, and I enjoy the feeling of being a mother, so I made the call and got started," she says.
Michael Horn spoke to the National Coalition Public School Options today in Washington DC. NCPSO is an extraordinary network of parents that advocate for educational options for families particularly online learning.
Horn is a coauthor of Disrupting Class and a leading advocate for online learning. He gave the roomful of discerning parents a little history of disruption.
In 1989, Clay Christensen joined the faculty of the Harvard Business School and began studying why successful organization fail. He found that the factors that had promoted success were often cause of the demise. These organizations would add sustaining innovations--think computers and cars--that made models a little better and a little more expensive every year. This cycle of product improvement leaves room for new competitors to fulfill similar needs for substantially less.
These "disruptive innovations" often replace non-consumption for under served consumers. In education non-consumption includes credit recovery, dropout recovery, and home education.
For example, most of our honors students place out of the first-year composition course, so it is entirely possible for them to graduate without having taken a course that involves heavy-duty writing. I would argue that the ability to write effectively is the most important skill a student should have. Is there some way to build this into an honors program before a student begins work on a senior thesis?
April really is the cruelest month. I discovered that firsthand this year, as the changes I have made during my two years as director of the University of Florida honors program began to take effect. Our application procedure, once a mere formality, now de-emphasizes standardized-test scores and has caused some students to be turned away. The resulting torrent of angry phone calls and e-mails made me dread going to work all month.
May put an end to that, but it gave rise to a new stream of questions, mostly about housing. One parent made multiple requests for a layout of the honors dorm so she could ensure that her son's room location was optimal.
Has it really come to this? Are honors programs devolving into concierge services? I approach my role as director from the point of view I held as a student more than 20 years ago--that honors is a challenge to engage--but find myself confronted with parental and student expectations that honors is nothing more than a reward for a job well done in high school.
Which raises the question: Why do students want to be in our honors program? I hope they want to surround themselves with serious, like-minded peers to form a real intellectual community. But my darker suspicions about their motivation were confirmed when, during dinner with a few students, one said that the impression he'd received during his visits to the campus was that honors was like flying first class. You know: smaller classes, easier access to advising, better dorm. Further reflection led me to realize that students at universities like Florida have always been "honors students," and that the label is important to them (and their parents). Why would they accept being just a "regular" student here? I suppose that attitude is a natural outcome of today's K-12 achievement culture, but it is shocking nonetheless.
Perhaps we should not be surprised. Honors programs were created with good intentions, but it did not take long for them to be perceived as "better" than the regular university experience. Today's parents and students pursue any avenue they think will give them an advantage, beginning in elementary school; hence the proliferation of honor societies, tutoring services, test-preparation courses, and leadership programs. Students are sorted and ranked by their test scores and other metrics from the time they enter school, so they expect that the process will follow them to college.
Critics of honors programs, most notably Murray Sperber in his book Beer and Circus, say this division between "regular" and "honors" students should not exist. Sperber recalls his undergraduate days at Purdue, in the 1960s, when all classes were of reasonable size, taught by regular tenure-track faculty. State flagship institutions, he argues, should stop exploiting large numbers of undergraduates (and taking their tuition dollars) to support ever-expanding research enterprises and instead return to a focus on education. He asserts that while students would like smaller classes and more individual attention, universities cynically ply them with permissive alcohol policies and large athletics programs to keep them quiet. Honors programs, he argues, are a "life raft" for a few lucky students to navigate those treacherous seas.
I agree with some of Sperber's arguments, but I am enough of a realist to know that the ship has sailed. Business-minded legislatures are demanding more education while offering less money to pay for it. They expect flagships to produce cutting-edge research that will drive states' economies. They are also loath to authorize tuition increases, thereby forcing universities to increase class sizes and find other ways to generate revenue. So a return to the glory days is unlikely.
But Sperber misses an important point: Many students view college simply as a means to an end and are not especially engaged in the educational process. This does not make them unintelligent or unworthy of attending a selective public university, but it does not obviate the need for an honors program to challenge students who are seeking more.
So what does the future hold for honors programs at large public research universities? I suspect that those institutions that have the resources to do so (usually via endowments designated to support honors) will very likely continue much as they always have--offering small sections of lower-division courses, recruiting faculty to teach interesting electives on offbeat topics, providing specialized advising, facilitating undergraduate research. In short, offering what they advertise: a liberal-arts-college environment within a large university.
Since honors students at selective public universities meet most of their general-education requirements through advanced placement, perhaps it is time to shift the focus of the honors curriculum to the sorts of skills that these students may still need to improve. For example, most of our honors students place out of the first-year composition course, so it is entirely possible for them to graduate without having taken a course that involves heavy-duty writing. I would argue that the ability to write effectively is the most important skill a student should have. Is there some way to build this into an honors program before a student begins work on a senior thesis?
I also worry that, by skipping general-education courses, students may miss out on acquiring a deeper understanding of material they learned in high school. One step I am taking to combat this at Florida involves a new course built around the concept of justice, to be offered to all first-year students in the honors program as of next spring. The goal is to give our students a common intellectual experience that will help hone their critical-thinking and writing skills. We also encourage our students to pursue double majors, to study abroad for a semester, or to get involved in research.
But those are technical matters. In my view, a philosophical change is needed. We should move away from the notion that honors is an upgrade to first class, one to which students are entitled merely because they scored well on some dubious standardized tests. When I speak to groups of prospective students, I emphasize this point, explaining that honors is a challenge, not a reward, and that moving from high-school honors to university honors is shifting from a culture of achievement to a culture of engagement.
That should be an honors program's true function--engaging students who want to push the boundaries and helping them find ways to do it, rather than providing further empty rewards for students who jump through hoops with style.
This has been a horrible year for teachers unions. The latest stunner came in Michigan, where Republicans enacted sweeping reforms last month that require performance-based evaluations of teachers, make it easier to dismiss those who are ineffective, and dramatically limit the scope of collective bargaining. Similar reforms have been adopted in Wisconsin, Ohio, New Jersey, Indiana, Tennessee, Idaho and Florida.
But the unions' hegemony is not going to end soon. All of their big political losses have come at the hands of oversized Republican majorities. Eventually Democrats will regain control, and many of the recent reforms may be undone. The financial crisis will pass, too, taking pressure off states and giving Republicans less political cover.
The unions, meantime, are launching recall campaigns to remove offending Republicans, initiative campaigns to reverse legislation, court cases to have the bills annulled, and other efforts to reinstall the status quo ante--some of which are likely to succeed. As of today, they remain the pre-eminent power in American education.
Over the long haul, however, the unions are in grave trouble--for reasons that have little to do with the tribulations of this year.
The first is that they are losing their grip on the Democratic base. With many urban schools abysmally bad and staying that way, advocates for the disadvantaged are demanding real reform and aren't afraid to criticize unions for obstructing it. Moderates and liberals in the media and even in Hollywood regularly excoriate unions for putting job interests ahead of children. Then there's Race to the Top--initiated over union protests by a Democratic president who wants real reform. This ferment within the party will only grow in the future.
- Teacher-certification requirements are among the most onerous rules enforced by state education agencies and have the potential seriously to limit the scope, quality, and accessibility of virtual schooling for years to come.
- By design, certification requirements prohibit unlicensed individuals who reside within a state -- such as higher education faculty, private-sector professionals, private school faculty, and independent scholars -- from teaching virtual courses.
- States should allow their virtual schools to have the flexibility to focus on hiring candidates who possess the requisite skills and relevant knowledge and experience, rather than those who possess mandated credentials.
DEREK BOK, a former president of Harvard, once observed that "universities share one characteristic with compulsive gamblers and exiled royalty: there is never enough money to satisfy their desires." This is a bit hard on compulsive gamblers and exiled royals. America's universities have raised their fees five times as fast as inflation over the past 30 years. Student debt in America exceeds credit-card debt. Yet still the universities keep sending begging letters to alumni and philanthropists.
This insatiable appetite for money was bad enough during the boom years. It is truly irritating now that middle-class incomes are stagnant and students are struggling to find good jobs. Hence a flurry of new thinking about higher education. Are universities inevitably expensive? Vance Fried, of Oklahoma State University, recently conducted a fascinating thought experiment, backed up by detailed calculations. Is it possible to provide a first-class undergraduate education for $6,700 a year rather than the $25,900 charged by public research universities or the $51,500 charged by their private peers? He concluded that it is.
Mr Fried shunned easy solutions. He insisted that students should live in residential colleges, just as they do at Harvard and Yale. He did not suggest getting rid of football stadiums (which usually pay for themselves) or scrimping on bed-and-board.
[ Ed. Note: In the immediate aftermath of the CSU Board of Trustees approving a salary of $400,000 -- 25% more than his predecessor was paid -- for the new President of San Diego State University on July 12, 2011, this piece is particularly appropriate.]
Higher education is very important to California -- to the students, to their parents, to the employers who hire the graduates, and to the people and organizations that fund the portion of the costs that is not covered by tuition. Therefore it is extremely important that educational funding be spent as efficiently as possible, and even more so in this time of financial distress.
I have taught at two campuses in the California State University system since 1998. My personal experiences at those schools raised concerns about administrative practices. Further research revealed statistics that all the stakeholders should be aware of, because of their effects on both the cost and quality of the education we provide.
For example, based on data in the California State University Statistical Abstract, the number of full-time faculty in the whole CSU system rose from 11,614 to 12,019 between 1975 and 2008, an increase of only 3.5 percent. In the same time period the total number of administrators rose 221 percent, from 3,800 to 12,183. In 1975, there were three full time faculty members per administrator, but now there are actually slightly more administrators than full-time faculty. If this trend continues, there could be two administrators per full-time faculty in another generation.
I currently teach at Cal Poly in Pomona, where the trends for the whole system also are visible. In 1984 we had 90 "Management Personnel Plan" employees, but in 2010 there were 132. Based on data provided by the chief financial officer, the total compensation of those employees, including fringe benefits, was $20.6 million in 2010.
To put this total into perspective, if the administrators were reduced by 42 to return to the same level as in 1984, the university could hire over 50 full-time faculty (who are typically paid less than administrators). These additional faculty could teach over 300 additional classes per year, which would make it easier for students to graduate in a more timely fashion. The additional instructors would also make it unnecessary to eliminate academic programs as is currently being proposed.
Following up on a recent post on college grade inflation, there's also evidence that grade inflation is taking place at America's high schools. In a study by the college entrance exam company ACT, it found evidence of significant grade inflation between 1991 and 2003 for high school students taking the ACT exam. While ACT scores remained stable between 1991 and 2003, the chart above shows that the average high school GPA increased for ever ACT composite score over that period. From the study:
"Each point on each curve represents the average GPA for all students in 1991 and 2003 who earned that specific ACT Composite score. The curve for 2003 is higher at every Composite score point than the 1991 curve, which is evidence of the existence of grade inflation.
A "satisfactory" evaluation never did much for seventh-grade teacher Susan Cox.
In her 21 years teaching kids, she's earned a national board certification and a master's degree. She's taken on new projects and district initiatives. She's hoping the new evaluation system Wenatchee School District plans to pilot next year will become the next step up in her teaching.
"I can't remember how many years I've been on a short (evaluation) form," Cox said. "I'm observed once and that's it. But this is going to be very different."
How did more than 160 million women go missing from Asia? The simple answer is sex selection -- typically, an ultrasound scan followed by an abortion if the fetus turns out to be female -- but beyond that, the reasons for a gap half the size of the U.S. population are not widely understood. And when I started researching a book on the topic, I didn't understand them myself.
I thought I would focus on how gender discrimination has persisted as countries develop. The reasons couples gave for wanting boys varies: Sons stayed in the family and took care of their parents in old age, or they performed ancestor and funeral rites important in some cultures. Or it was that daughters were a burden, made expensive by skyrocketing dowries.
But that didn't account for why sex selection was spreading across cultural and religious lines. Once found only in East and South Asia, imbalanced sex ratios at birth have recently reached countries as varied as Vietnam, Albania, and Azerbaijan. The problem has fanned out across these countries, moreover, at a time when women are driving many developing economies. In India, where women have achieved political firsts still not reached in the United States, sex selection has become so intense that by 2020 an estimated 15 to 20 percent of men in northwest India will lack female counterparts. I could only explain that epidemic as the cruel sum of technological advances and lingering sexism. I did not think the story of sex selection's spread would lead, in part, to the United States.
Matthew Stewart believes there is a place for charter schools. Just not in his schoolyard.http://www.hanyuschool.org/. Locally, the Verona School District offers a Mandarin immersion charter school. More, here.
Mr. Stewart, a stay-at-home father of three boys, moved to this wealthy township, about 20 miles from Midtown Manhattan, three years ago, filling his life with class activities and soccer practices. But in recent months, he has traded play dates for protests, enlisting more than 200 families in a campaign to block two Mandarin-immersion charter schools from opening in the area.
The group, Millburn Parents Against Charter Schools, argues that the schools would siphon money from its children's education for unnecessarily specialized programs. The schools, to be based in nearby Maplewood and Livingston, would draw students and resources from Millburn and other area districts.
"I'm in favor of a quality education for everyone," Mr. Stewart said. "In suburban areas like Millburn, there's no evidence whatsoever that the local school district is not doing its job. So what's the rationale for a charter school?"
The Khan Academy iPad app is coming along really well. We're getting near to a 1.0 release. This initial release will have video navigation and viewing as well as an interactive transcripts and offline support. Exercises will be coming in the next release. I've tossed a couple (very alpha) screenshots here. Huge thanks to +Adam Ernst and +Jason Rosoff for making this happen.
Fresh out of graduate school, Ann Marie Eckerson is looking for her first full-time teaching job. The 26-year-old Apalachin woman has complied a list of credentials that experts say she will need in her search -- a master's degree from Binghamton University's School of Education; teaching certifications in a number of areas; and two semesters of student-teacher experience in the Union-Endicott Central School District.
She also has the enthusiasm to follow in the footsteps of her father and mother, who were both teachers, and her brother and sister, who also went into the profession.
"I believed from a young age there was no better way to make an impact," said the graduate of Seton Catholic Central High School.
A year ago, Adrian Fenty was the mayor of Washington, DC and Michelle Rhee was the chancellor of DC Public Schools. Rhee had made overhauling the DC system of teacher evaluation the centerpiece of her controversial and widely noted reforms. Instead of the standard system of seniority-based raises and nobody ever being fired for bad teaching, Rhee wanted to give the best teachers big raises and show the worst teachers the door.
The American Federation of Teachers was so alarmed by the prospect of the DC teachers union acceding to this plan that AFT President Randi Weingarten shoved aside local leadership and forced Rhee into a protracted series of negotiations. But because teacher evaluation is legally excluded from collective bargaining in DC, Rhee was able to put her system in place unilaterally. After a year of evaluations under the new IMPACT evaluation system, she made good on her promise: big raises for the highest performers in a time when teacher salaries were being cut and frozen in other cities, pink slips for the lowest performers, and a one-year grace period for hundreds more "minimally effective" teachers who would be fired if they didn't improve. Unable to stop the plan through negotiations, the AFT turned to raw politics, pouring $1 million into Vincent Gray's campaign to unseat Fenty. Gray won, and Rhee's divisive tenure soon came to an end.
English, the global language of business, should be well catered for in Hong Kong. Our city is an international financial centre and, to retain its competitive edge, has to attract skilled people from overseas. They will not come here unless their families' needs are catered for, and education in their everyday language is obviously a significant consideration. Surveys and anecdotal evidence suggest that due to a lack of suitable school places, we are losing out to regional rivals.
The government does not seem worried. It says there are vacancies at international schools and measures already taken will soon create another 5,000 places, 600 of them when school resumes in September. But the positive tone is at odds with signals from the business community, which has for some time been warning of a shortfall and its consequences. Surveys by the British and Canadian chambers of commerce back the claims, painting the bleakest of pictures.
Scott Walker, the governor who set the stage for a burst of educational excellence? The guy who helped teachers make their work more successful and more rewarding (at least intangibly)?Much like our exploding federalism, history will certainly reveal how Walker's big changes played out versus the mostly status quo K-12 world of the past few decades. One thing is certain: the next 10 years will be different, regardless of how the present politics play out.
Goodness, turning those question marks into periods is going to be a project. It's hard to imagine how Walker's standing among teachers could be lower.
But Walker thinks that will be the verdict several years from now.
By winning (as of now) the epic battle to cut school spending and erase almost all collective bargaining powers for teachers, as well as other educational battles, Walker has changed the realities of life in just about every school in the state, including many private schools.
The focus through our tumultuous spring was on money, power and politics. Now the focus is shifting to ideas for changing education itself.
So what are Walker's ideas on those scores?
In a 40-minute telephone interview a few days ago, Walker talked about a range of education questions. There will be strong criticism of a lot of what he stands for. Let's deal with that in upcoming columns. For the moment, I'm going to give Walker the floor, since, so far this year, the tune he calls has been the tune that the state ends up playing. Here are some excerpts:
I found the interview comments on the teacher climate interesting. Watching events locally for some time, it seems that there is a good deal more top down curricular (more) and pedagogy (teaching methods) dogma from administrators, ed school grants/research and others.
Wisconsin teacher license information.
Related: 2 Big Goals for Wisconsin.
The eldest of Pamela Fettes' three sons only recently celebrated his 15th birthday, but she is already worrying about the cost of their college education.
Ms Fettes, a 46-year-old single mother, lives in Belvidere, a blue-collar town 70 miles north-west of Chicago. She earns $50,000 a year as a regional healthcare co-ordinator, putting her right at the US's median household income - although she also works two nights a week as a hospital clerk and decorates cakes on the side. She took on the extra work after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008 and getting divorced last year, both of which involved considerable expense.
Ms Fettes says she has about $200 left each month after all her bills are paid, but she is also trying to pay down $8,000 in credit card debt and has little saved up, meaning she will be unable to contribute to the cost of her sons' higher education.
It just got easier to become superintendent of a troubled New Jersey school district.This is a good idea.
The state Board of Education Wednesday relaxed the requirements for hiring superintendents in more than 50 districts with failing schools, opening the positions for the first time to non-educators.
Backed by the Christie administration, the new regulations take effect immediately as part of a pilot program for districts with schools that fail to meet federal standards for student achievement based on test scores.
The city Department of Education and the teachers union have agreed on a teacher evaluation system at 33 failing schools that will for the first time use individual student progress to measure the performance of educators.
The agreement caps months of wrangling between the United Federation of Teachers and the DOE and comes amid a nationwide trend toward making student test scores a key component of teacher evaluations.
The agreement was reached, in part, under pressure from the state Education Department, which was withholding $65 million in federal funds for turning around failing schools unless the city and the union could agree on a new teacher grading system aligned with state guidelines.
The DOE and the UFT jointly announced the news on Friday. The 33 schools will also get help to turn themselves around. In some cases, principals will be removed.
Students packed the lobby of Chicago Public Schools headquarters Thursday to deliver a critical report on school discipline policies that contends the district spends more than 14 times as much on school security as it does on student counseling.
The report, produced by Voices of Youth in Chicago Education, a student-led "education justice" advocacy group, claims that CPS' approach to discipline and disproportionate security and guidance budgets hurts graduation rates and deprives the cash-strapped district of revenue.
"Even with all the security in our schools, students don't feel safer," said O'Sha Dancy, a rising sophomore at Dyett High School. "We are not in a prison."
The report is the result of a year-long effort in which VOYCE members and The Advancement Project, a civil rights organization, studied discipline policies at schools around the country and conducted a cost-analysis of the CPS budget to determine how much was being spent on security and police services in schools. Among the findings is that the district paid $51.4 million for school security guards in Fiscal Year 2011 compared to $3.5 million for college and career counselors.
Only two years ago, Atlanta Public Schools were the toast of the educational establishment. Scores on standardized tests had been rising--skyrocketing, in some cases--for a decade. In February 2009, schools chief Beverly Hall was feted as national superintendent of the year.
Two months later, dozens of Ms. Hall's teachers and principals engaged in the annual ritual required to produce such success: They cheated on the state standardized test.
The difference between 2009 and previous years of cheating (dating back at least as far as 2006, and perhaps 2001) was that reporters at my newspaper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, questioned the schools' remarkable scores on Georgia's Criterion-Referenced Competency Test. Those articles prompted an investigation by then-Gov. Sonny Perdue, and this month the devastating final report arrived. It uncovered cheating by adults in 44 schools, covering 1,508 classes--almost all of them serving low-income, minority students.
Stuart Rojstaczer is a retired Duke University professor who has tirelessly crusaded for several decades against "grade inflation" at U.S. universities and maintains a website with lots of historical GPA data and charts (GradeInflation.com). The chart above illustrates grade inflation at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor over roughly the last half century (data here), with the average GPA rising from 2.57 in 1951 (C+/B-) to 3.27 by 2008 (B+). The grade inflation at Michigan is similar to the national trend at most American universities over time.
Catherine Rampell at the NY Times Economix Blog writes about a new paper by Professor Rojstaczer and co-author Christopher Healy titled "Where A Is Ordinary: The Evolution of American College and University Grading, 1940-2009," published in the Teachers College Record. The main findings of the paper appear below, illustrated by this chart:
A typical school district's reaction to tight budgets is to cut, cut, cut. While cutting education waste can sharpen focus, cutting into innovation leaves your district extremely vulnerable to competition. School districts are no longer just competing against the local private school; rather they are competing with education over the net and the global market place as well. Now more than ever we need contenders.
With the right trainers, district leaders or contenders can become innovation champions for kids. Here's four ways you can step into the ring and put on the gloves for the upcoming education fight with the rest of the world.
Complete an Open Education Resource Scan - What are you paying for in your district with educational technology? What outcomes have you realized? Is there an open free alternative? Can this resource be shared among multiple users for multiple purposes? Example: Are you paying for a learning management system and creating your own content? Or, are you using a free engine and wrapping it around content not just for instruction but for professional development as well.
Last September, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced: "Today is a great day! I have looked forward to this day for a long time-and so have America's teachers, parents, students, and school leaders."
Duncan was excited about a new way of testing students, one that goes "beyond the bubble test," the standardized assessments students take every year that have long been criticized as not only useless in measuring any kind of real learning, but actually detrimental to the entire education system.
Ask most teachers, and you'll hear a litany of reasons why they detest these assessments. They contend the current tests have no bearing on student learning. They waste time that could be better spent in class (the former president of United Teachers Los Angeles, "dismisses the weeks before spring testing as 'Bubbling-In 101,'" according to a Los Angeles Times article.) They complain about having to teach to the tests, leaving them little time to try new ways of engaging students. And in some states, teachers are evaluated based on those very scores.
On June 30th, the Denver Public School Board voted unanimously on nine separate proposals for new charter and innovation schools. That's right, the DPS Board that is notorious for its contentious 4-3 split on nearly every major policy (turnarounds, innovation schools and charters) voted 7-0 in favor of these promising new schools. Here's hoping that this is a sign of the Board's commitment to putting kids first with our new reform minded mayor-elect, Michael Hancock.
The new charter schools, which will be located in all quadrants of the city, include: an all-boys K-12 charter modeled after a school in New Orleans and backed by former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb, two additional West Denver Prep middle school campuses and a new West Denver Prep high school, a new KIPP elementary school, two new Denver School of Science and Technology campuses, a K-5 performance school being started by a current DPS principal and district educators, and a new preschool-8 charter school started by a Get Smart Schools fellow.
The District of Columbia Public Schools has notified 413 employees of their separation as the result of IMPACT evaluations, the DCPS said on Friday.
IMPACT evaluates teacher performance based on student achievement, instructional expertise, collaboration, and professionalism. Other employees are assessed based on criteria specific to their jobs.
The 413 represent just over 6 percent of the 6,500 total DCPS employees. DCPS issued separation notices based on performance and on noncompliance with licensing requirements for the 2010-2011 school year, according to a DCPS statement.
The head of the USA's second-largest teachers union on Monday said local affiliates will defend the rights of teachers caught up in cheating scandals, including the one now unfolding in Atlanta. But she said cheating "under any circumstances is unacceptable."
Speaking to reporters during the American Federation of Teachers' biannual training conference, Randi Weingarten said the union would "obviously" represent teachers accused of cheating "to make sure that people have some kind of fairness -- and that it's not some kind of witch hunt."
A long-awaited report released last week by Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, a Republican, found teacher- or principal-led cheating in 44 of 56 Atlanta schools investigated. Investigators determined that 178 educators cheated. Of those, 82 confessed.
After years spent directing the distribution of more than $1 billion from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation into hundreds of schools across the nation, Tom Vander Ark set his sights on the New York area, with a plan to create a network of charter schools of his own.
Mr. Vander Ark, the foundation's former executive director of education and a national leader in the online learning movement, was granted charters in 2010 to open a high school in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, and two others in Newark. The New York school, Brooklyn City Prep, also got space in a public school building -- a precious and controversial commodity -- hired a principal, and welcomed applications from 150 eighth graders this spring.
But after spending more than $1.5 million of investors' money on consultants and lawyers, Mr. Vander Ark, 52, has walked away from the project, and the schools will not open as planned this fall, leaving others involved stunned and frustrated.
The list of delays states are encountering in implementing their Race to the Top plans keeps getting longer.
Every state but Georgia has now amended its Race to the Top plan in some way, usually to push back a timeline or scale back an initiative. In all, the dozen winners from the $4 billion competition have changed their plans, so far, 25 times, according to the list of amendments approved by the U.S. Department of Education. Remember, the winners were chosen based, at least in part, on their promises in those plans.
The changes includes a 32-page amendment with dozens of changes to New York's plan, including one of the first amendments I've seen that doesn't just push back a timeline, but eliminates a small piece of the state's plan. That particular amendment eliminates a $10 million program to provide competitive grants for charter school facilities in New York, and redistributes the money across a few other programs, including a general "school innovation fund." This may--or may not--be a big deal, but it's at least worth noting.
The California Board of Education has approved a new set of regulations that will give parents more control to force changes to low-performing public schools.
The "parent trigger" rules will allow a majority of parents at low-performing schools to petition school districts for major changes that include adding intervention programs, removing the principal, replacing staff, converting the campus to a charter, or closing the school altogether.
Supporters of California's "Parent Trigger" law, applaud during testimony in support of the measure during the the state Board of Education meeting in Sacramento Wednesday. By a unanimous vote, the board approved the "trigger" law, which will allow parents to demand a turnaround at failing schools through a petition signed by a majority of parents at the school. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
"We want not just parental involvement, we want true power to help guide the education of children," former state Sen. Gloria Romero, the co-author of the legislation that led to the rules, told the Associated Press.
A new program beginning this fall will allow some older students attending Arkansas' two-year colleges to receive credit for their life experiences.
Ed Franklin, executive director of the Arkansas Association of Two-Year Colleges announced today that Chicago-based Council for Adult and Experiential Learning will offer a six-week evaluation and assessment class to students who are interested to see if their life experiences can be turned into college credit.
CAEL currently offers similar programs to more than 80 colleges in all 50 states, said Mark Campbell, vice president of LearningCounts.org, the online portal where students take the six-week assessment and evaluation class.
The widespread use of search engines and online databases has affected the way people remember information, researchers are reporting.
The scientists, led by Betsy Sparrow, an assistant professor of psychology at Columbia, wondered whether people were more likely to remember information that could be easily retrieved from a computer, just as students are more likely to recall facts they believe will be on a test.
Dr. Sparrow and her collaborators, Daniel M. Wegner of Harvard and Jenny Liu of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, staged four different memory experiments. In one, participants typed 40 bits of trivia -- for example, "an ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain" -- into a computer. Half of the subjects believed the information would be saved in the computer; the other half believed the items they typed would be erased.
Last summer my family moved from Manhattan to Cambridge, Massachusetts. Thanks to a lucky break in the rental market, we ended up with part of a house in a lovely, leafy neighborhood near the Harvard campus. Many of our neighbors are Harvard professors. They’re lovely (not leafy) folks. Smart, friendly, funny. Did I mention smart?
They’re also among the most privileged people I’ve ever met. Privileged not because they inherited large sums of money or lounge around eating bonbons. Privileged because they work in rewarding, stimulating jobs—with lots of opportunity for variety and personal initiative—and seemingly don’t ever have to worry about losing them.
Don Buckley (@donbuckley) and I are collaborating with Dr. Sabrina Goldberg (7th Math Teacher) this week to discuss Data Visualization with her students for the next few days. Here is what we are doing with the students for the 3-day unit:
POLITICIANS of all stripes fulminate at the failure of posh universities to enroll a greater number of students from poor families. That more pupils from Eton, the prime minister's alma mater, go to Oxford University than do boys from all over England who received free school meals because their family income was low is widely paraded as evidence of this failing. So the decision to raise the maximum tuition fee charged by universities to £9,000 a year from 2012 was tempered with policies designed to promote access: English universities were told they could charge high fees only if they did more to help the poor. On July 12th they unveiled plans to do both.
The government's desire to create a market in which institutions compete for students on cost has been thwarted by the universities themselves: many students enrolled at middling redbricks will pay the same high fees as those who gaze at dreaming spires. To compensate for slashed state funding, all 130 English universities will substantially increase their tuition fees; two-thirds will charge the top rate for some subjects and a third will charge it for all their courses.
Sugary soft drinks, diet sodas, and artery-clogging food will be a thing of the past at Massachusetts public school snack shops, vending machines, and a la carte cafeteria lines under rules unanimously approved yesterday by state health regulators.
The nutrition standards adopted by the Public Health Council take effect in the 2012-2013 school year and are believed by advocates to be among the most comprehensive in the country.
But the council - an appointed panel of doctors, consumer advocates, and professors - delayed a ban on sweetened, flavored milk until August 2013 to give schools more time to find other ways to encourage children to drink milk.
The interim superintendent of Atlanta's public schools promised to reform the district and remove teachers and supervisors implicated in one of the nation's biggest cheating scandals.
Erroll Davis Jr. removed the city's four area superintendents as well as two principals this week, pending further investigation into cheating on standardized tests. At the same time, a former Atlanta deputy superintendent agreed to go on paid leave from a Texas school district that hired her earlier this year.
All were named in an 800-page state report released last week that outlined widespread, systematic cheating by students, teachers and administrators on standardized tests required annually at Georgia's elementary and middle public schools. The cheating, which was intended to raise scores to meet performance benchmarks, involved practices such as teachers erasing incorrect answers on the standardized tests.
AT ITS heart--as in so many scandals--lay a simple thing: the friction of rubber on paper. Too many wrong answers were erased, too many right ones inserted. Questions about dramatic improvements in standardised-test scores taken by children in Atlanta's public schools (APS) were first raised a decade ago. They were thoroughly answered last week when Governor Nathan Deal released a report that found cheating throughout Atlanta's school system, not by pupils but by teachers, with the superintendent and her administration either encouraging it or turning a blind eye.
Cheating occurred in 44 of the 56 Atlanta elementary and middle schools examined, and with the collusion of at least 178 teachers, including 38 principals. (And the report cautions that "there were far more educators involved in cheating, and other improper conduct, than we were able to establish sufficiently to identify by name in this report"). Answer-sheets in some classrooms found wrong-to-right erasures on test sheets that had standard deviations 20 to 50 times above the state norm. According to Gregory Cizek, who analysed test scores for the special report, the chance of this occurring without deliberate intervention is roughly the same as that of the Georgia Dome, a 70,000-seat football stadium, being filled to capacity with spectators who all happened to be over seven feet tall.
On a sunny morning late last month, Noemi Donoso, Chicago Public Schools' new chief education officer, organized a three-inch-thick binder stuffed with paperwork and district data at a table in her office.
It was one of more than 20 such binders from CPS area offices Donoso has been studying since Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed her to oversee curriculum and instruction for the nation's third-largest school district in April. The post has traditionally been held by former CPS principals and Donoso, an outsider groomed in charter schools, faces responsibilities that her predecessors did not.
A sweeping state education bill passed in May by the General Assembly enables CPS to lengthen the school day and fundamentally changes the process of evaluating teachers. Managing the implementation of those reforms will be Donoso's biggest undertaking, said Tim Knowles, director of the Urban Education Institute at the University of Chicago and a member of Emanuel's education transition team.
Faculty members feeling besieged by, well, take your pick -- increased scrutiny of their productivity and the relevance of their research; broadsides against tenure; attacks on their expertise and ability to collectively bargain; or their shrinking role in the affairs of their institutions -- will no doubt find succor in a new book to be released next month.
In his polemic, The Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why It Matters (Oxford University Press), Benjamin Ginsberg, David Bernstein Professor of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University, takes stock of what ails higher education and finds a single, unifying cause: the growth of administration.
Clayton Christensen and Henry Eyring, building on Christensen's contribution to business, health care and K-12 education, apply Christensen's model of disruptive innovation to higher education. Unlike the many doom-and-gloom books of recent years, this work offers a hopeful analysis of the university and its traditions and how it must find new models for the future.More, here.
"The Innovative University" builds upon the theory of "disruptive innovation" and applies it to the world of higher education. The concept, originally introduced by Christensen in his best-selling book "The Innovator's Dilemma," holds that sustaining institutions or models exist, until change "disrupts" the traditional or "sustaining" model. In the case of higher education, the disruptor to the traditional university might be a recession, the rise of for-profit schools or the prevalence of high-quality online programs. The authors suggest that to avoid the pitfalls of disruption and turn the scenario into a positive and productive one, universities must change their institutional "DNA."
A public school district in Michigan has used its phone alert system to point voters toward the recall effort against Gov. Rick Snyder. In early June, shortly after the Snyder recall reached the petition-gathering phase, the alert system for Lawrence Public Schools sent out the following robocall to residents of the district:"This is a message from the Lawrence Public Schools (inaudible) alert system. This is an informational item and not directly associated with the school. Concerned parents interested in cuts to education . . . we're here to inform you that there is information about the problem. Also, be advised that there is a petition to recall Governor Snyder. If you want, stop by Chuck Moden's house right by the school June 7th/8th between 3:30 and 4:00 pm. Thank you. Goodbye."
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, basking in the afterglow of a legislative session that he described as “unusually successful,” said Wednesday that his top priority next year would be limiting retirement benefits for new state and city workers.
He said that his inability to win such an overhaul was the biggest failing of the session that just ended.
In a wide-ranging interview with reporters and editors of The New York Times, the governor was both candid and combative as he offered his thoughts about the poor performance of schools statewide, his concern that high taxes are driving residents away and his reflections on his own use of charm and threats in an effort to win over lawmakers in Albany.
Mr. Cuomo, a longtime student of politics who has recently shied away from commenting on national affairs, called the Republican Party a prisoner of the “extreme right.” He predicted that President Obama would be re-elected despite the nation’s stubbornly high unemployment rate. And he took a gentle swipe at a predecessor, Gov. Eliot Spitzer, a fellow Democrat, who he suggested had failed to understand the delicate interplay between the governor’s office and other elements of society.
As part of Gov. Susana Martínez's education-reform effort, she persuaded the New Mexico Legislature to pass a bill by which our public schools will be given grades.
It's an exercise in teacher/administrator accountability, and pretty clearly the public needs more accountability from those folks; our state for years has been at the bottom of national rankings in education, and toward the top when it comes to dropouts.
Education and jobs tend to be a chicken-and-egg proposition -- so, figure the governor and her choice as education secretary, Hanna Skandera, let's begin where we have the chance, and the challenge, of improving the poultry.
But the new school year and the school-grading process are fast approaching. Some superintendents question the state's readiness to apply A's, B's, C's, D's and F's -- especially considering the damage those last two letters might do.
As a candidate, Dannel Malloy a year ago placed education at the center of his campaign. He pledged that if elected governor, he would build on a slew of long-awaited education changes Connecticut lawmakers had passed in order to snag federal Race to the Top funds, intending to push the state even further.
If statewide test scores out this week are any indication, Mr. Malloy still has a long way to go before being known as an education reformer.
Despite being one of the country's biggest education spenders on a per-student basis, Connecticut's 2011 test scores for reading, math and writing barely inched up from the year before, as poor children and those in urban areas continue to lag well behind their richer, more suburban peers.
Only 58% of Connecticut's third graders and 45% of 10th graders meet state standards for reading, and the results are worse for children whose families are eligible for free or reduced-price meals: Nearly twice the percentages of wealthier students scored at the standards for those grades than their peers who are eligible for the meals.
In the typical Oregon public school classroom, students of the same age work at achievement levels that often vary by two or three grades, sometimes more.
That didn't make sense to Mary Folberg. When she launched Northwest Academy, a private college preparatory school for grades 6-12 in downtown Portland, she grouped students the way she did as a dance instructor at Jefferson High, by proficiency rather than age.
That's the seismic shift Gov. John Kitzhaber wants to make in the state's public school system through a package of education bills passed by the Legislature last month.
At the heart of the package is one bill pushed by Kitzhaber to create paths from pre-school through college on which students advance at their own paces. The bill creates a 15-member Oregon Education Investment Board, chaired by the governor, to control the purse strings on all levels of education from preschool through college -- about $7.4 billion or half of the state general fund.
In today's New York Times, Diane Ravitch responds to David Brooks and other critics by hoisting well-worn foreign flags."No high-performing nation tests its students every year or uses student test scores to evaluate teacher quality."This is a point Ravitch makes again and again. I usually just glide right by it, since it comes wedged between so many other questionable claims and also some valid points. But since I just got back from visiting these high-performing nations, I must note that Ravitch's version of reality does not match what I saw.
Everywhere I went, testing was absolutely embedded in the system. It took different forms, and in some places it was done more intelligently and more subtly than we do it, but it was always there. In South Korea, kids are tested in elementary, middle and high school. How do I know? Teachers, principals, students and the Education Minister told me so. It was not a secret.
At an education roundtable Wednesday at the Statehouse, six teachers from around the state told Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds what Iowa teachers need to make students globally competitive.
Iowa teachers spend 180 days in the classroom. They want more time away from the students to become better teachers.
"We find the issues, but we don't have either the professional development time or collaboration time to fix it," said Philip Moss, a teacher in the North Tama district.
Spending more time learning from each other was something teachers stressed.
"It's all in how you organize the time we do have. A lot of time the master schedule is more based on the finances, not based on what's actually our goal," said Jessica Gogerty of North High School in Des Moines.
On Friday morning, while her friends were at the pool or sleeping in, Jovana Aguilar was in school building a molecule out of marshmallows and toothpicks.
Over the past three weeks, Aguilar learned science through "cool experiments," such as building paper airplanes to demonstrate Bernoulli's principle and popping a balloon with a plastic bottle, baking soda and vinegar.
Aguilar, who just finished fifth grade at Hawthorne Elementary, is participating in the Madison School District's summer school program for the third year in a row to boost her reading skills.
But unlike last year, when half of her morning was devoted to reading and the other half was spent playing dodgeball or board games in a recreational class, she had the opportunity this summer to take "enrichment" courses in science and world cultures.
Despite a competitive economy in which success increasingly depends on obtaining a college degree, one in four students in this country does not even finish high school in the usual four years.Related Madison College (MATC) links:
Matthew Kelly was in danger of becoming one of them.
Tests showed he had a high intellect, but Mr. Kelly regularly skipped homework and was barely passing some of his classes in his early years of high school. He was living in a motel part of the time and both his parents were out of work. His mother, a former nurse, feared that Matthew had so little interest he would drop out without graduating.
Then his guidance counselor suggested he take some courses at a nearby vocational academy for his junior year. For the first time, the sloe-eyed teenager excelled, earning A's and B's in subjects like auto repair, electronics and metals technology. "When it comes to practicality, I can do stuff really well," said Mr. Kelly, now 19.
The proposal would end the subsidized Stafford loan program, in which the federal government pays the interest that accrues while students are enrolled in school. It's an idea that has gained some traction: it was previously embraced by the bipartisan federal debt commission, the College Board's Rethinking Student Aid panel, and even (in a limited way) by President Obama, who, in his 2012 budget proposal, called for ending subsidized interest payments on graduate student loans and need-based Perkins loans. But Obama and the College Board panel recommended using the savings from the subsidies to expand financial aid for needy students, rather than to pay down the deficit as Cantor's plan and the debt commission's would.
Whether the proposal, which was first reported Tuesday by the news website The Daily Beast, will make it into the final compromise is still unclear; President Obama reportedly opposed it, and there's no evidence that a consensus will emerge anytime soon. But the possibility of ending the subsidized Stafford loan program drew immediate fire from student advocates, who argued that it would transfer debt from the federal government to needy students.
Some Southern California teachers are finding ways to keep creativity in the lesson plan even as they prepare their students for standardized tests.
Even as the annual state testing season bore down on her this spring, fourth-grade teacher Jin Yi barely bothered with test prep materials. The Hobart Boulevard Elementary School teacher used to spend weeks with practice tests but found they bored her students.
Instead, she engages them with hands-on lessons, such as measuring their arms and comparing that data to solve above-grade-level subtraction problems.
"I used to spend time on test prep because I felt pressured to do it," said Yi, who attended Hobart in Koreatown herself and returned a decade ago to teach. "But I think it's kind of a waste of time. The students get bored and don't take it seriously and it defeats the purpose."
Montclair High School students will have to get their parents to re-register them and prove they live in Montclair or they won't be allowed back in the classroom when school starts in September.
According to an advisory issued late Thursday afternoon by the Montclair School District, the re-registration is part of an effort to "verify, update and document the residency of all students currently enrolled in the Montclair Public Schools."
The statement, issued by Assistant Schools Superintendent Felice Harrison, said the parents or guardians of all MHS students will be required to fill out registration forms and "submit residency verification documents."
The registration will take place at both the Montclair High School main building at 100 Chestnut St., and the George Inness Annex at 141 Park Street, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Thursday. There are no Friday hours.
With the practice of paying forced union dues soon to become a relic of the past for many public employees, officials of the Wisconsin Education Association Council have reportedly contacted members in a bid to convince them to continue paying up through automatic bank withdrawals.
That's not surprising because the revenue stream the state's largest teachers' union is trying to protect is substantial. In fact, the organization collected more than $23.4 million in membership dues in fiscal year 2009 from its approximately 98,000 members.
The numbers are included on WEAC's IRS forms for the year. Fiscal year 2009 was the latest filing available. The state's new collective bargaining law that took effect this week will end mandatory dues payments and government collection of dues for many public employees immediately and for most of the rest when current contracts expire.
According to IRS documents, the union mustered membership dues of $23,458,810 in fiscal year 2009. National Education Association revenue totaled another $1,419,819, while all revenues totaled $25,480,973, including investment income of $367,482.
In 2006, Harvard sociologists struck a mother lode of social-science data, offering a new way to answer big questions about how race and cultural tastes affect relationships.
The source: some 1,700 Facebook profiles, downloaded from an entire class of students at an "anonymous" university, that could reveal how friendships and interests evolve over time.
It was the kind of collection that hundreds of scholars would find interesting. And in 2008, the Harvard team began to realize that potential by publicly releasing part of its archive.
But today the data-sharing venture has collapsed. The Facebook archive is more like plutonium than gold--its contents yanked offline, its future release uncertain, its creators scolded by some scholars for downloading the profiles without students' knowledge and for failing to protect their privacy. Those students have been identified as Harvard College's Class of 2009.
My seventh-grade English teacher exhorted us to study vocabulary with the following: "We think in words. The more words you know, the more thoughts you can have." This compound notion that language allows you to have ideas otherwise un-haveable, and that by extension people who own different words live in different conceptual worlds -- called "Whorfianism" after its academic evangelist, Benjamin Lee Whorf -- is so pervasive in modern thought as to be unremarkable.
Eskimos, as is commonly reported, have myriads of words for snow, affecting how they perceive frozen percipitation. A popular book on English notes that, unlike English, "French and German can distinguish between knowledge that results from recognition ... and knowledge that results from understanding." Politicians try to win the rhetorical battle ("pro-life" vs. "anti-abortion"; "estate tax" vs. "death tax") in order to gain the political advantage.
Here is another example of New York charter schools using their greater autonomies to develop innovative practices, in this case achieving operating efficiencies during this time where increasing pension costs are a particular concern for school districts. A recent Fordham Institute study reports that, between 2004 and 2010, district pension costs nationally increased from 12% to over 15% of salaries, amid concern that the public pension plans are underfunded.
The study reports that some New York charter schools are opting out of the traditional teacher-pension system, with only 28% of the state's charters participating in the state or city teachers retirement systems (NYSTRS and TRSNYC, respectively) in 2008-9. Those that opt-out cite the high cost of employer contributions. In 2009, the annual employer contribution rate to NYSTRS was 6.19% of an employee's annual salary, and that to TRSNYC was an astonishing 30.8% (by far the highest in this six-state study).
But that doesn't mean that these charter schools are not interested in helping their employees have a more secure future. Schools that choose not to participate in public pension plans most often provide their teachers with defined-contribution plans (401(k) or 403(b)) with employer matches similar to those for private-sector professionals. Although employer contribution rates vary, they generally range up to 6% of the employee's salary. Vesting periods range from immediate vesting to five-year vesting schedules.
About 500,000 children with poor eyesight enter the Mexican school system every year. In some states up to 70 per cent of children are judged to need lenses at 0.75 correction or higher.
Yet because of the stigma of wearing spectacles, many of them struggle because they cannot see the blackboard - and sometimes even a book - properly.
Eyewear manufacturer Augen Optics commissioned Yves Béhar's Fuseproject to develop glasses that would appeal to children. The firm designed frames made of a light, durable plastic that have two separate parts - a top and bottom - which enable users to customise their glasses in terms of style and colour combinations. A child can pick from three frame shapes and seven colours, and then the two halves can be connected together at the nose bridge.
Along with the Mexican government and Augen, Mr Béhar set up the See Better To Learn Better charity, which produces and distributes the spectacles to poor children.
If you were following the NEA news last week, you already know that the delegates approved a $10 per member increase to the national union's Ballot Measure/Legislative Crises Fund. What you might not know is NEA just about exhausted that fund in 2010-11.
The BM/LC Fund distributes funds to NEA state affiliates to supplement their own issue spending on ballot initiatives and bills working their way through various state legislatures. NEA longer reveals which states received what amounts, but so many states received funding it hardly matters.
NEA took in about $13.3 million in dues money for the fund in 2010-11, and retained a carryover of more than $8 million from 2009-10, for a total of $21.3 million. However, the union spent or promised that entire amount, and then some, in response to the myriad of collective bargaining laws that were introduced.
After some time for quiet reflection, I have posted some thoughts on the recent WSJ article on the Madison public schools' budget gap. I am responding to comments that have been flying around since the board president indicated his sense that the board is not interested in raising property taxes.
About those property taxes and the MMSD budget gap...
I recently wrote this response to TJ Mertz's blog on the newly-discovered shortfall in state aid to the Madison Metro School District. It places the gap, and the WSJ article on the gap, in perspective. At least it provides my perspective on where we are and what is likely to happen next.
In 2008, when Katherine Sprowal's son, Matthew, was selected in a lottery to attend the Harlem Success Academy 3 charter school, she was thrilled. "I felt like we were getting the best private school, and we didn't have to pay for it," she recalled.Eva Moskowitz responds, via Whitney Tilson:
And so, when Eva S. Moskowitz, the former city councilwoman who operates seven Success charter schools in Harlem and the Bronx, asked Ms. Sprowal to be in a promotional video, she was happy to be included.
Matthew is bright but can be disruptive and easily distracted. It was not a natural fit for the Success charters, which are known for discipline and long school days. From Day 1 of kindergarten, Ms. Sprowal said, he was punished for acting out.
"They kept him after school to practice walking in the hallway," she said.
Several times, she was called to pick him up early, she said, and in his third week he was suspended three days for bothering other children.
The facts clearly show that Success Academies' educators are incredibly committed to serving children with special needs, we serve a high percentage, and do not push out children who don't "thrive." The Success Academies' special education population is equal to the citywide average of 12.5%. Our ELL population is 9.6%, and when you factor in children who we have successfully taught English (and are no longer ELL), we clearly educate the same children. As Winerip points out, our student attrition rate is significantly lower than our co-located schools and the citywide average.
As the paper trail examined by Winerip clearly indicates, no one pressured Ms. Sprowal to leave the school. Her son did not have an IEP until 3 years after he left the school. When the family left the school in 2008, Ms. Sprowal wrote effusive emails about how happy she was with how the school handled her situation. Three years later, after coaching from the United Federation of Teachers, his mother is now unhappy. The UFT spent five years hovering over our schools to find hordes of students who were unfairly "pushed" out, and the best they could find was a single story with a happy ending.
Most educators would agree that children are different and don't all excel in the same settings. That's why having choices is so important. Different schools are different in their approaches. Some are strict, some less strict, some have bigger class sizes, some smaller etc.. It is our obligation to advise a parent that there might be a better setting for their child.
Our schools are a work in progress, every day we try to do better for the largest number of children. While I don't believe that the school mishandled the situation, we are always working to improve how we serve children with all types of needs. For next year, we have added a 12:1:1 program at two of our schools and a Director of Special Education at the network-level who comes from the city's District 75.
What is most troubling about several of Winerip's recent columns is the suggestion that low-performing schools can't be expected to do any better. Winerip recently wrote that it wasn't Jamaica High School's fault that only 38% of its kids graduate with regents diplomas, because it gets more of the tough-to-serve kids (2% more homeless children, 6% more children with special needs). What school could possibly do better under those circumstances?
The theme is repeated in this story. 33% of 4th graders passed the state ELA test at PS 75, but public schools like PS 75 get more tough-to-serve children. (PS 75 does not, but schools like it do, he argues) When schools like ours have 86% of 4th graders passing the same test, it must be because we don't have the same kids, because schools can't possibly be expected to do that well.
Winerip also makes the argument that schools like PS 75 care about children and thus have low test scores while schools like Harlem Success Academy don't care about children and thus have high test scores.
Those are both false arguments that we must dispel if we're to improve the quality of public education. Schools with tough-to-serve children can do better and it's possible to care about children AND want them to perform well on tests.
At Success Academies, we want children to achieve at high levels AND we care deeply about their social and emotional development. We aim to create schools that are nurturing, joyful, and compelling AND that prepare children to excel in whatever their chosen field. I tell our principals, our true measure of success is whether children race through the door each morning and are disappointed to leave each day because school is just that compelling. Do we also want our children to score well on tests? Yes. High performance and joy are not mutually exclusive.
CEO and Founder
Do supporters of privatized schooling — including Gov. Chris Christie — really want to destroy public schools? Is even asking the question an exercise in political hyperventilating?Zaid Jiliani has more.
It’s a charge frequently made by NJEA President Barbara Keshishian who said, "Chris Christie has one objective: to destroy New Jersey’s public schools in order to pave the way for their privatization.’’ He declined to comment for this article, but Christie — through spokesman Michael Drewniak — has insisted he likes public schools, just not their unions.
"The Governor’s issue is with a union that opposes reform,’" Drewniak said.
There was a time when advocating the elimination of public schools was so politically toxic that even those who harbored the desire stayed in the closet. That may be changing.
America's colleges and universities, for years the envy of the world and still a comfort to citizens concerned with the performance of the country's public elementary and secondary schools, are beginning to lose their relative luster. Surveys of the American public and of more than 1,000 college and university presidents, conducted this past spring by the Pew Research Center in association with the Chronicle of Higher Education, revealed significant concerns not only about the costs of such education, but also about its direction and goals.
Despite a long track record of serving increasing numbers of students during the past half-century, graduation rates have stagnated. A higher proportion of America's 55- to 64-year-old citizens hold postsecondary degrees than in any other country--39 percent--but America ranks only tenth in the same category for its citizens aged 25 to 34 (at 40 percent). And none of America's higher-education institutions have ever served a large percentage of its citizens--many from low-income, African-American, and Hispanic families.
Indeed, the quality of America's colleges and universities has been judged historically not by the numbers of people the institutions have been able to educate well, regardless of background, but by their own selectivity, as seen in the quality and preparedness of the students they have admitted. Those institutions that educated the smartest students, as measured by standardized tests, also moved up in the arms race for money, graduate students, and significant research projects, which in turn fueled their prestige still further, as faculty members at such schools are rewarded for the quality of research, not for their teaching.
"When high stakes are attached to tests, people often act in ways that compromise educational values. High-stakes testing incentivizes narrowing of the curriculum, gaming the system, teaching to bad tests and cheating."
That passage, taken from a July 1 letter education historian Diane Ravitch wrote to the New York Times disputing columnist David Brooks' characterization of her public policy views, can easily be superimposed onto the current national education portrait.
Ever since Congress and President George W. Bush reauthorized the Early and Secondary Education Act in 2002 to become No Child Left Behind (NCLB), schools have been under the gun to up state-mandated student test scores or face financial and structural consequences. Results from those exams are notoriously inflated or teased with public relations precision, not out of the malfeasance of school administrators but as a function of what happens when students are taught to a series of exams that determine a great portion of the state's education funding.
The Atlanta cheating scandal has put a spotlight on how schools could fudge standardized tests.
In California, schools are supposed to report any irregularities in testing and investigate them themselves. The state no longer collects data on erasures, one of the ways that investigators detected cheating in Atlanta. Nor does it do random audits during testing, according to USA Today.
Irregularities can range from teachers accidentally not following exact instructions on how to administer state tests to outright cheating. The state then decides if it needs to adjust school scores to discount some of the test results. California keeps the records of testing irregularities for just one year.
I last requested those records for all schools in San Diego County in April. Keep in mind, these are the school districts that followed the rules and reported irregularities, just like they are supposed to.
A Harvard-trained administrator thought she had heard it all as a gatekeeper in a city office responsible for supporting charter schools when Bill Baccaglini walked enthusiastically through the door with one more idea.
"I thought, 'Here we go, another big idea,'" recalled Jessica Nauiokas. But she found herself liking his plans so much that she offered to be the Bronx school's principal. "I walked out of the meeting and said, 'Wow. That actually is a compelling idea.'"
Thus explains how Nauiokas became principal at the Haven Academy Charter School, where a third of students are in foster care. Another third are in families receiving preventive services to diminish the need for foster care. The rest are from the Mott Haven community, which is in a Congressional district where a soaring poverty rate keeps a third of residents on public assistance.
Anne Arundel County schools have not made sufficient progress in eliminating racial bias from its student disciplinary practices, according to a civil rights complaint filed by the NAACP.
The complaint, filed with the civil rights office of the U.S. Department of Education on Friday, alleges that the numbers of African-American students referred for discipline and suspended have hardly changed since a similar complaint in 2004. That complaint led to an improvement plan agreed to in 2005 by the NAACP and the school system.
"Six years later, however, there has been no marked improvement in the disparate treatment of African-American students in disciplinary actions, which continues a pattern of denial and limitation of their educational opportunities and thus their future sustainability," the new complaint reads
How do you sell a school that doesn't exist?
If you are Chris Whittle, an educational entrepreneur, you gather well-to-do parents at places like the Harvard Club or the Crosby Hotel in Manhattan, hoping the feeling of accomplishment will rub off. Then you pour wine and offer salmon sandwiches and wow the audience with pictures of the stunning new private school you plan to build in Chelsea. Focus on the bilingual curriculum and the collaborative approach to learning. And take swipes at established competitors that you believe are overly focused on sending students to top-tier colleges. Invoke some Tiger-mom fear by pointing out that 200,000 Americans are learning Chinese, while 300 million Chinese have studied English.
Then watch them come.
As of June 15, more than 1,200 families had applied for early admission to Avenues: The World School, a for-profit private school co-founded by Mr. Whittle that will not open its doors until September 2012. Acceptance letters go out this week. Gardner P. Dunnan, the former head of the Dalton School and academic dean and head of the upper school at Avenues, said he expected 5,000 applicants for the 1,320 spots available from nursery through ninth grade. "You have to see the enthusiasm," Mr. Whittle crowed.
A lively debate about charter schools, high-stakes testing and impoverished students arose as David Brooks criticized Diane Ravitch, she answered back and readers joined the fray.
To the Editor:
Re "Smells Like School Spirit," by David Brooks (column, July 1):
Mr. Brooks has misrepresented my views. While I have criticized charter schools, I am always careful to point out that they vary widely. The overwhelming majority of high-quality research studies on charters shows that some are excellent, some are abysmal and most are no better than regular public schools.
Some charters succeed because they have additional resources, supplied by their philanthropic sponsors; some get better results by adding extra instructional time. We can learn from these lessons to help regular public schools.
Others succeed by limiting the admission of students with disabilities and those who can't read English, or by removing those with learning problems. These students are then overrepresented in regular public schools, making comparisons between the two sectors unfair.
I don't want to get rid of testing. But tests should be used for information and diagnostics to improve teaching and learning, not to hand out bonuses, fire teachers and close schools.
When high stakes are attached to tests, people often act in ways that compromise educational values. High-stakes testing incentivizes narrowing of the curriculum, gaming the system, teaching to bad tests and cheating.
Poverty has a strong influence on academic achievement, and our society must both improve schools and reduce poverty.
Top-performing nations like Finland and Japan have taken the time to build a strong public school system, one with a rich curriculum and well-educated, respected teachers. Our desire for fast solutions gets in the way of the long-term thinking and the carefully designed changes that are needed to truly transform our schools.
Brooklyn, July 1, 2011
The writer is the education historian.
Conrad Wolfram Video.
Looking to attract employers' attention, some law schools are throwing out decades of tradition by replacing textbook courses with classes that teach more practical skills.
Indiana University Maurer School of Law started teaching project management this year and also offers a course on so-called emotional intelligence. The class has no textbook and instead uses personality assessments and peer reviews to develop students' interpersonal skills.
New York Law School hired 15 new faculty members over the past two years, many directly from the ranks of working lawyers, to teach skills in negotiation, counseling and fact investigation. The school says it normally hires one or two new faculty a year, and usually those focused on legal research.
Education2020, which is known as E2020, provides online courses across 43 states in subjects ranging from algebra to earth science to "A Midsummer Night's Dream."
Its products focus on so-called credit recovery, the fastest-growing segment of the online education sector. The credit recovery market serves students who have fallen behind and need to take additional courses to graduate.
These self-paced online classrooms provide a solution for budget-constrained schools that are under pressure to raise their graduation rates but cannot afford to hold additional classes.
Thirty-two area students are among 112 Wisconsin students and nearly 4,800 students nationwide who received National Merit Scholarships from U.S. colleges and universities this year.Many notes and links on National Merit Scholares, here.
The scholarships range in value from $500 to $2,000. The recipients were selected from 16,000 semifinalists out of 1.5 million students who took the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test in 2009.
In Dane County the recipients were from Edgewood High: Catherine A. DeGuire of Verona and Eric J. Wendorf of Madison; from Madison East: Jesse M. Banks, Jillian M. Plane and Scott O. Wilton, all of Madison; from Madison Memorial: Nancy X. Gu of Madison; from Madison West: Abigail Cahill, Nicholas P. Cupery, Sujeong Jin, Peter G. Lund and John C. Raihala, all of Madison, and Al Christopher V. Valmadrid of Fitchburg; from Madison Shabazz: Isabel A. Jacobson of Madison; from Marshall High: Zechariah D. Meunier of Marshall; from Middleton High: Anna-Lisa R. Doebley, Rachel J. Schuh and Cody J. Wrasman, all of Middleton, and Danielle M. DeSantes of Verona; from Stoughton High: Matthew J. Doll and Alexandra P. Greenier, both of Stoughton; from Verona High: Jasmine E. Amerson and James C. Dowell, both of Verona, and Kathryn M. Von Der Heide of Fitchburg; from Waunakee High: Stephen J. Bormann of Waunakee; and from home schools: Greer B. DuBois, Margaret L. Schenk and Isaac Walker, all of Madison.
Outside Dane County the recipients were Madeleine M. Blain of Evansville, Julie Mulvaney-Kemp of Viroqua, Clara E. McGlynn of Reedsburg, Ryanne D. Olsen of Jefferson and Yvette E. Schutt of Janesville.
Creating a new system of accountability for schools in Wisconsin could be a great help to parents and school districts and, thus, an important educational reform for the state. If the new system is fair and done right, it would provide plenty of clear information on which schools are achieving the right outcomes.
Ideally, it would measure schools not only on whether they have met certain standards but how much students and schools have improved over a certain time period. It also would measure all schools that receive public funding equally - public, charter and voucher - so that families would have the information they need to make good choices. That's all important.
Gov. Scott Walker, state schools superintendent Tony Evers and others have signed on to create a new school accountability system and to seek approval from the U.S. Department of Education to allow the system to replace the decade-old, federally imposed one they say is broken. The feds should give that approval, and the state should move forward with this reform and others.
Simmering tensions between the nation's largest teachers' union and a highly acclaimed national service program boiled over this week. The National Education Association vowed to "publicly oppose Teach for America (TFA) contracts when they are used in Districts where there is no teacher shortage or when Districts use TFA agreements to reduce teacher costs, silence union voices, or as a vehicle to bust unions."
Teach for America is a nonprofit organization that recruits graduates from leading universities to teach for two years in some of the nation's most impoverished school districts. Study after study shows that TFA's dedicated teachers are effective in lifting achievement levels among the poor and minority students they serve. Why would the NEA want to deprive our neediest kids of good teachers?
NEA member Marianne Bratsanos of Washington, who proposed the anti-TFA resolution, complained that the volunteer group undermines schools of education and accepts money from foundations and other funders who are hostile to unions. The key complaint, however, seems to be that TFA volunteers are displacing more experienced teachers, even in districts with no teacher shortages.
Full disclosure: I'm a TFA alum. You may discount my views accordingly, but the NEA's indictment is very far from the reality I encountered on the ground teaching Language Arts to inner city kids in Charlotte, N.C.
p>Pursuing this topic, here are some of the good or interesting papers I discovered:
This UK piece reframes the David Card IV literature in terms of signaling and with UK data estimates that signaling accounts for one-third of the educational wage premium. It uses a “compulsory” instrumental variable from earlier UK schooling reforms.
Here is the Hanming Fang paper (IER): “…productivity enhancement accounts for close to two-thirds of the college wage
premium.” It uses very different techniques, based on simulations, not IV and the like.
This paper shows that rank measure in class doesn’t affect earnings, contrary to what signaling theories should predict. This may be a puzzle for learning theories as well.
Continuing turmoil surrounding a new contract for public school teachers could delay key Race to the Top education reforms that require union approval, including several the state pledged to launch in the approaching school year, observers say.
Lawmakers, education analysts and others said strained relations between the state and Hawaii State Teachers Association will almost certainly make for harder discussions about such issues as revamped teacher evaluations, the tenure system and incentive pay.
They also point out those matters, in the short term, are unlikely to be tackled until the overall teachers contract is resolved.
Whether the wrangling could jeopardize the state's $75 million federal Race to the Top grant Hawaii received last August after pledging to make ambitious improvements of its public education system isn't clear.
But several onlookers agreed the contract dispute -- and the absence of negotiations for now -- highlight just how tough making important portions of the state's Race reforms will be.
The Rev. Reginald Jackson watched in horror last week as the political romance between Gov. Chris Christie and state Senate President Steve Sweeney exploded in flames.
It started when the governor pruned the budget of nearly everything Democrats wanted, after refusing to talk to Sweeney. And it ended with Sweeney's obscene tirade.
All that's left now is the smoldering wreckage of a relationship that's been at the core of every major reform since Christie took office. A week after the governor called to discuss the meltdown, Sweeney still had not returned his calls.
The last time Iowa was considered No. 1 overall in education, teachers faced fewer challenges in the classroom, students were more homogenous and school districts required less of them to graduate.Change is hard for most organizations. It is easy to live on the "fumes" of the past, until it is too late to change.
That was 1992.
Today, as Gov. Terry Branstad endeavors to restore the state's standing as a national education leader, teachers, policymakers and politicians fiercely disagree over what it will take to get back on top. Some dispute that Iowa's students have slid dramatically in performance at all.
What the different factions do agree on is that Iowa is experiencing rapid change in the classroom: Students are significantly poorer, more urban and more diverse than they were in 1992. Course work is more rigorous than it was in the early 1990s but, in an increasingly competitive global economy, that course work is still not believed to be enough.
How does Wisconsin compare to the world? Learn more at www.wisconsin2.org
Three years ago, Heather Vogell, an investigative reporter at the Atlanta Journal Constitution, sat down with a data analyst to crunch some numbers.
She had just received the latest crop of scores for the CRCT, a state standardized test. Curiously, Vogell noted, several schools statewide had changed in status between the spring 2008 administration of the test and the summer retest in 2008, going from not meeting Adequate Yearly Progress rates, a calculation set by federal legislation that determines the fates of individual schools, to meeting the measure.
"We saw there were a lot more schools that met AYP than we had expected. It was a larger shift," Vogell told The Huffington Post.
Like any intrepid reporter, she had some questions. "We were poking around. We saw some schools that had very hard to believe gains, just looking with the naked eye," she said.
The Indiana Department of Education on Friday unveiled a website to provide information about the newly approved state voucher system.
The site includes an initial list of eligible private schools and answers to frequently asked questions.
Lawmakers in April approved vouchers, which will provide state dollars to Hoosier kids who want to attend private or parochial schools.
The amount of money available for a student depends on the household income and the local district's state funding. . A family of four, for example, could make up to $62,000 and still be eligible for a partial voucher.
Millions of Americans endured financial calamities in the recession. But for many in the black community, job loss has knocked them out of the middle class and back into poverty. And some experts warn of a historic reversal of hard-won economic gains that took black people decades to achieve.
“History is going to say the black middle class was decimated” over the past few years, said Maya Wiley, director of the Center for Social Inclusion. “But we’re not done writing history.”
Adds Algernon Austin, director of the Economic Policy Institute’s Program on Race, Ethnicity and the Economy: “The recession is not over for black folks.”
In 2004, the median net worth of white households was $134,280, compared with $13,450 for black households, according to an analysis of Federal Reserve data by the Economic Policy Institute. By 2009, the median net worth for white households had fallen 24 percent to $97,860; the median net worth for black households had fallen 83 percent to $2,170, according to the institute.
Higher education keeps getting lower. And not just in my home state, where the core curriculum at the University of Arkansas' campus at Fayetteville is being hollowed out. It's happening all over. In Britain, the study of the humanities is being diluted, too.
Happily, this sad trend has inspired a familiar reaction. Over here, as state universities cut back on required courses that once were considered necessary for a well-rounded education, small liberal arts colleges have taken up the slack. Now comes word from England that A.C. Grayling, the renowned philosopher, has joined with other free-spirited academics to start a new, private College of the Humanities.
These new schools are part of an old tradition. Isn't that how the first universities in Europe began -- as communities of scholars teaching the classical curriculum? They were founded, organized and run by the faculty, not administrators. And out of those universities came a great renaissance, the rebirth of classical education after what we now call the Dark Ages.
Roger Pascoe, head of music at Hanover primary school in Islington, north London, says 11-year-old Gabriel Millard-Clothier throws himself into everything he does. Gabriel plays the flute, the violin and the bass recorder and has recently been awarded a £1,000 ($1,600) bursary from the London Symphony Orchestra, which means he gets a year's mentoring from a senior orchestra member. He has already played on stage at the Barbican.
Gabriel's sister, Phoebe, 13, plays piano (classical and jazz) and the cello. Then comes younger sister, Honey, eight, on piano, flute and descant recorder and finally six-year-old Lucien, who plays classical guitar. Is this a typical family? Is Hanover primary an unusually musical school? Pascoe says the headteacher is keen on music and promotes it. Gabriel thinks Pascoe is an awesome teacher. On the other hand, Gabriel doesn't like to practise. "No child likes to practise," says Pascoe. "That would be strange."
Phoebe has a music scholarship at St Marylebone School in London, a top state school. Competition is intense: for entry in September 2011, the school had more than 200 applicants for eight music places.
The numbers reflect a trend: many children are taking up one, if not two or three musical instruments despite the costs, which can run into thousands of pounds for a family with two or three children and much more for someone such as the writer and broadcaster Rosie Millard, mother of the Millard-Clothier children. While she may be at the extreme end of the spectrum (her children's regime is detailed in her blog, helicoptermum.com), Millard is certainly not alone in her determination. Many parents have a quiet obsession with making their children learn music, even if they are not musical themselves.
A state school board has set a minimum score on a language-competency test for teachers who have not mastered English.
The Providence Journal reports that the state Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education voted on Thursday to set a minimum score. Education Commissioner Deborah Gist described the score as the "bare minimum'' of fluency.
When I was in grade school, teachers came in two varieties: the "easy and nice ones" and the "mean and strict ones." We didn't even have to decide which was which. The older kids filled us in on the playground, so we always knew what we were in for next year.
Now that I'm much older - and, I hope, wiser - I see how silly it was to lump all those teachers into such categories. I see how each one brought a special gift into the classroom and into my life. I wish I would have known that then and shown them the respect and appreciation they deserved.
Unfortunately, teacher labeling has returned. Not by older kids on the playground but by activists and politicians in Madison. Depending on whom you talk to, teachers are either "underpaid and upset that the government is going back on promises" or "unreasonable civil servants who won't pay their fair share."
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett on Tuesday hailed Indiana's first statewide all-online public high school as a "revenue generator" and a model for how cash-strapped school districts can save money.
"This is in many ways a breakthrough for the state," Bennett said at a news conference Tuesday formally announcing Achieve Virtual Education Academy, which will be available to Hoosier students this fall. Wayne Township will run the accredited school, which will award regular high school diplomas.
Achieve Virtual allows for the school corporation and its teachers to be entrepreneurial while also allowing children to learn in a way that suits them, Bennett said, making it a "win-win-win opportunity."
In 1950, when newly-independent India adopted a democratic constitution, it formally abolished the seemingly atavistic institution of caste.
Under the Constitution's terms, the age-old practice of 'untouchability', that had helped create and sustain a hierarchical social order with religious sanction, was officially drawn to a close. Subsequently, the Indian state also launched the world's most extensive affirmative action program (referred to as 'positive discrimination') designed to bring redress for more than a millennial-span of discrimination. Later, in 1993, it attempted to implement the recommendations of the Mandal Commission Report of 1980 which had called for sweeping reservations in government employment quotas for the socially-disadvantaged castes.
These efforts to bring about social change through constitutional design and enabling legislation did not prove to be a panacea in addressing this social ill. Still, coupled with powerful social movements during the 1960s, in several of India's southern states, most notably in Tamil Nadu, a virtual non-violent social revolution took place, dramatically challenging sacerdotal authority.
It's much tougher to implement the law than it is to write it -- that's the lesson educators are learning this summer as they work to implement a complicated new educator evaluation system.
Some area school leaders question how fair the system can be and say they don't believe it's possible to get everything done on time with the state's strict timeline.
"The timetable is practically impossible," Watertown City School District Superintendent Terry N. Fralick said. "By and large, we feel the timetable cannot be met. But we will do our best to work on it and show good faith."
District officials will work with the Watertown Education Association and the Watertown Association of Supervisors and Administrators, the unions that cover teachers and principals, respectively. School leaders in other north country districts and across the state will be doing the same thing.
A system for providing clear, plentiful and sophisticated information for judging the quality of almost every school in Wisconsin, replacing a system that leaves a lot desired on all of those fronts - that is the goal of an eye-catching collaboration that includes Gov. Scott Walker, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers, and leaders of eight statewide education organizations.
Walker and Evers said Friday that they will seek approval from the U.S. Department of Education to allow the new school accountability system to replace the decade-old, federally imposed one they labeled as broken.
They want at least a first version of the new system to be ready by spring, and to apply it to outcomes for schools in the 2011-'12 school year.
The new accountability program would include every school that accepts publicly funded students, which means that private schools taking part in the state-funded voucher program would, for the first time, be subject to the same rules as public schools for making a wealth of data available to the public. Charter schools and virtual schools would also participate.
In the early days of the education-reform movement, a decade or so ago, you’d often hear from reformers a powerful rallying cry: “No excuses.” For too long, they said, poverty had been used as an excuse by complacent educators and bureaucrats who refused to believe that poor students could achieve at high levels. Reform-minded school leaders took the opposite approach, insisting that students in the South Bronx should be held to the same standards as kids in Scarsdale. Amazingly enough, those high expectations often paid off, producing test results at some low-income urban schools that would impress parents in any affluent suburb.
Ten years later, you might think that reformers would be feeling triumphant. Spurred in part by the Obama administration’s Race to the Top initiative, many states have passed laws reformers have long advocated: allowing for more charter schools, weakening teachers’ tenure protections, compensating teachers in part based on their students’ performance. But in fact, the mood in the reform camp seems increasingly anxious and defensive.
Last month, Diane Ravitch, an education scholar who has emerged as the most potent critic of the reform movement, wrote an Op-Ed for this newspaper arguing that raising high-poverty schools to consistently high levels of proficiency is much more difficult and less common than reformers make it out to be. When politicians hold up specific schools in low-income neighborhoods as success stories, Ravitch wrote, those successes often turn out, on closer examination, to be less spectacular than they appear. She mentioned the Bruce Randolph School in Denver, which President Obama singled out in his 2011 State of the Union address as an example of “what good schools can do,” and the Urban Prep Academy in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood, which the education secretary, Arne Duncan, praised in a speech in February. Each school graduates a very high percentage of its seniors, but, Ravitch said, test scores at those schools suggested that students were below average in the basic academic skills necessary for success in college and in life.
Sweden could become the first country in Europe to offer Chinese lessons to all schoolchildren under plans floated by the Swedish education minister.
Jan Björklund said giving future generations access to Chinese language tuition was crucial to national competitiveness.
"Chinese will be much more important, from an economic perspective, than French or Spanish," he told the Dagens Industri newspaper.
Other western countries have also started introducing Chinese to school curriculums in recognition of China's growing global role, but Mr Björklund's plan aims to put Sweden ahead of the pack.
In a corner of the San Fernando Valley, amid auto body shops and Salvadoran pupusa restaurants, a Hawaiian summer is in full swing.
At Camp Akela, located at Noble Avenue Elementary School in North Hills, kindergartners read about rainbow fish and draw them. Other students study volcanoes, create travel journals, dance the hula and even play in a portable pool.
But the students, most of them low-income English learners, are also learning literacy, math facts and science and are honing writing skills with "coaches" dressed in leis, tropical shirts and grass skirts.
The New York Times coverage of the recent National Education Association (N.E.A.) convention focused on the inconsequential, while paying little notice to what harbored fundamental significance. It aimed its spotlight and lingered on what it referred to as a shift in position: "... the nation's largest teachers' union on Monday affirmed for the first time that evidence of student learning must be considered in the evaluations of school teachers around the country." (The New York Times, July 5, 2011).
In fact, there was little in the way of concessions by N.E.A. on this point, as The New York Times article itself conceded: "But blunting the policy's potential impact, the union also made clear that it continued to oppose the use of existing standardized test scores to judge teachers..." And the Times added that the N.E.A. went on to insist that only those tests that have been shown to be "developmentally appropriate, scientifically valid and reliable for the purpose of measuring both student learning and a teacher's performance" should be used. This qualification eliminates almost, if not all, conventional tests.
The N.E.A. is right to be cautious about basing teacher evaluations and the fate of teachers on the test scores of their students, as the Obama administration has been single-mindedly promoting. We know that students' standardized test scores are correlated above all with their economic standing. As Joe Nocera recently pointed out in an op-ed New York Times article (April 25, 2011): "Going back to the famous Coleman report in the 1960s, social scientists have contended -- and unquestionably proved -- that students' socioeconomic backgrounds vastly outweigh what goes on in the school as factors in determining how much they learn."
In a flurry of education bills passed last week, Oregon governor John Kitzhaber oversaw legislation to appoint an unlikely candidate for superintendent of schools: himself. Though many states have moved towards more centrally controlled education systems, Oregon became the first state to abolish the traditional office of superintendent and appoint the governor as superintendent of public instruction.
The governor will appoint a deputy superintendent to oversee the day-to-day activities in K-12 schools. The deputy must perform any duty designated by the governor and can be removed at any point following consultation with the state school board (which will also be newly appointed by the governor; this "superboard" of officials will oversee spending and policy for all grade levels).
How did this state of affairs come about? After Oregon's application for the 2010 Race to the Top Competition placed seventh to last, parents and legislators began to press for innovation and reform. Kitzhaber argues that central authority will help him push needed reforms. Kitzhaber is already on the reform track with legislation allowing universities and community colleges to sponsor charter schools and raising the cap on online charter schools. He is also earning pushback from the state's teacher's unions.
Delivering her first State of Education address on Thursday, Oklahoma's new Republican Superintendent Janet Barresi urged public school administrators and teachers to rise to the challenge of budget cuts totaling $100 million this year to public schools.
Barresi, a dentist and charter school organizer elected in November to replace longtime Democratic Superintendent Sandy Garrett, delivered her address to about 2,500 participants at the annual administrative conference at the Cox Convention Center.
IT IS not exactly unusual for children to cheat at school. But Indonesians have learned recently that their teachers add a new twist to a familiar tale: ordering their own pupils to cheat, even if they do not want to. Not surprisingly, the revelation has led to an anxious debate about whether anyone can trust the grades of millions of young men and women who come onto the labour market each year in South-East Asia's biggest economy.
The scandal came to light at the beginning of June when the mother of a 13-year-old boy in Surabaya, in eastern Java, told the local media that her son had been forced by his teachers to share his answers to a national exam with his classmates. The mother, Siami, first complained to the school but was ignored. So she took her story to a local radio station.
What does the Tea Party want? As the debt ceiling debate rages in Washington, that should be the central question in U.S. political discourse. After all, it is the rise of the Tea Party that revitalized the Republican Party in 2009 and gave it the muscle to deliver a "shellacking" to the Democrats in the 2010 midterm elections. And it is the radicalism of the Tea Party and the freshman legislators it elected that is often blamed for the uncompromising stance of the Republicans in the current budget negotiations.
That's why "The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism," a recent study of the Tea Party by Theda Skocpol, a Harvard political scientist, and Vanessa Williamson and John Coggin, two graduate students, is so important. An expanded version of the paper, which appeared this spring in the journal Perspectives on Politics, will be published as a book by the Oxford University Press later this year.
Ms. Skocpol is an unashamed progressive, but what is striking about her team's work is its respect for the Tea Party and its members. "Commentators have sometimes noted the irony that these same Tea Partiers who oppose 'government spending' are themselves recipients of Social Security," the paper notes. "Don't they know these are 'big government' programs?"
I am disappointed to see Jonathan Kozol, a lion in the struggle for education equity, refer to "so-called" achievement gaps.
Ingraham High School in Seattle, WA, is both racially and economically diverse. Of the 1051 students, half are low income, 30 percent are White, 30 percent Asian, 24 percent African American, and 12 percent Latino. In 2010, 65 percent of Ingraham's White students were proficient in Math, compared to only 5 percent (yes, 5 percent) of African American students and 16 percent of Latinos.
With nearly one in six students exhibiting mental health problems and fewer specialists to monitor their behavior, Madison school and community leaders are launching new efforts to better treat student mental health.TJ Mertz advocates property tax increases to support additional Madison School District expenditures.
The Madison school district is expanding services this fall, and Superintendent Dan Nerad is calling for a task force from the broader community, including health care providers, to review the issue and devise solutions.
"The need far outweighs the resources that are currently available," Nerad said.
Local experts say untreated children's mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress can result in lower academic performance, higher dropout rates, and more classroom disruptions, truancy and crime.
The problems are often exacerbated by childhood trauma related to poverty, domestic violence and substance abuse. Madison's growing number of low-income students, who account for two-thirds of those exhibiting mental health problems, also face barriers to accessing mental health services, local experts and advocates say.
In a sign of the endless march of technology individual schools will no longer be required to instruct pupils in long hand from the age of eight, and they may only learn to print.
The move has led to fears that youngsters could grow up not even knowing how to sign their own name.
According to a memo sent by the Department of Education to schools on April 25 they can continue to teach handwriting of they want, but children will be expected to achieve proficiency with a keyboard.
A year ago, everyone from President Obama's education point man Arne Duncan to then Rochester schools Superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard talked about the need for greater teacher accountability. Even the leaders of teachers unions were talking about the importance of holding teachers and principals accountable through more rigorous evaluations.
So much can change in 365 days.
Last week, the New York State United Teachers union sued the State Education Department over teacher evaluations. The union says that the Board of Regents overreached its authority and violated state law by approving stronger regulations for evaluations than the law required.
The regulations allow school districts to double the weight given to state tests, permitting the use of test results to count for up to 40 percent of a teacher's evaluation. The law allows student test results to count for 20 percent of a teacher's evaluation.
Written by an experienced elementary school teacher, Seattle
Dear Laurie Rogers:
Thanks for writing your book. One of the things that you discuss in your compelling discourse is the low standards that our colleges have had in the subject matter (as opposed to teaching theory, sociology, and psychology) for those who have a desire to become teachers in our public schools.
For the past twenty-two years, I have diligently taught 4th and 5th grade students. For the first eighteen years, I taught math according to the classical mode that you describe in your book. As the reforms took hold, and we were monitored ever more closely, I was forced into using Everyday Math according to a pacing guide set by the district. As you have rightly observed, it is a program that emphasizes coverage and not mastery.
For much of the year, I had 34 students. Of these 34 students, seven had Special Education IEPs and were to be served according to a pull-in model which never quite materialized. I did have a special ed. instructional assistant for 50 minutes a day until she was pulled to serve in a more "needy" classroom. One of my students was mentally retarded and never once scored about the first percentile on the MAP test. Another student started the year almost totally blind and had a personal assistant for two hours out of the day to teach her Braille. Two were removed from their homes by CPS and placed under foster care: one for neglect and the other for domestic violence. Three students were absent for more than 30 days each. I could go on, but I think that you get the picture.
Weary of unreliable public funding, two of the University of Minnesota's premier schools are planning for a future without it.
The U Law School and the Carlson School of Management are both looking at trading what little is left of their state funding for private fundraising that could give them more control over how they operate.
The two are poised to join a handful of elite schools nationwide in seeking self-sufficiency instead of state support. It might happen in a year, or longer. But already, the U is assessing the idea's merits. Being self-reliant could accelerate the schools' fundraising. But some university leaders, students and alumni worry that it could also weaken their commitment to Minnesota.
The final word will rest with new President Eric Kaler, who took charge of the U Friday along with its $3.7 billion budget, millions of dollars in budget cuts and public pressure to tamp down tuition increases.
The provisions of the Budget Repair Bill have gone into effect. For school districts that (unlike Madison) did not extend their collective bargaining agreement with their teachers unions, it is a brand new day.
In those districts, collective bargaining agreements are essentially gone and the districts have much wider discretion over compensation and working conditions for their teachers and other staff.
The Kaukauna School District is one that has taken advantage of the Budget Repair Bill provisions. Like nearly all school districts, Kaukauna now requires its teachers and staff to pay the employees' share of their retirement contributions, which amounts to 5.8% of their salary, and is also requiring a larger employee payment toward the cost of health insurance, up to 12.6% from 10%.
The district also took advantage of the expiration of its collective bargaining agreement to impose a number of other changes on its teachers. For example, it unilaterally extended the work day for high school teachers from 7.5 to 8 hours and increased the teaching load from five to six high school classes a day.
Madison Area Technical College owes its full-time faculty and staff raises of 3.6 percent this year after the cost-of-living index soared.
The expense means the college will need to pay its employees about $1 million more than expected, straining the college's budget, which is already beleaguered by a 30 percent cut in state aid and a cap on the tax levy.
Under union contracts negotiated in late March, raises for full-time faculty and support staff are tied to cost-of-living increases, based on the Consumer Price Index.
At the time, college administrators estimated the Consumer Price Index would rise by 1.4 percent. But instead, it increased 3.6 percent over the last 12 months, according to numbers that came out June 15.
AMERICA'S obesity epidemic is so called for a reason. Roughly one in three adults is obese. In 2008 close to 25m Americans were diabetic, according to a study published on June 25th. Nevertheless, Americans are living longer than ever. In 2007 the average life expectancy at birth was 78 years. This follows decades of progress. The question is whether obesity might change that.
National progress in life expectancy masks wide local disparities, according to a study published on June 15th and written by researchers at the University of Washington and Imperial College London. Men in Holmes County, Mississippi, for example, have a life expectancy of 65.9 years, the same as men in Pakistan and 15.2 years behind men in Fairfax, Virginia. Gaps between America's counties have widened since the early 1980s. Most alarming, 702 counties, or 30% of those studied, saw a statistically significant decline in life expectancy for women from 2000 to 2007; 251 counties saw a statistically significant decline for men.
In May 2011, state education agency representatives from New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Tennessee attended a series of workshops and briefings organized by the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE). The sessions described the changes that have taken place in Louisiana over the past six years, including the creation of the Recovery School District (RSD) that redeveloped unproductive schools in New Orleans and elsewhere, the restructuring of the LDOE, and efforts to create a new performance-based organizational culture in state and local education agencies.
Presenters included LDOE staff, RSD administrators, academic observers, nonprofit service partners, and education stakeholders. There was a candid discussion of the LDOE's overall school improvement goals, steps taken to achieve those objectives, and in some cases missteps made in the effort to dramatically turn around a large number of schools in a relatively short time and to prompt improvements in all schools across the state.
Promoters of higher education often point to differences in lifetime earnings to justify the price of higher education. Pay for an education today, and the "investment" will pay for itself over the student's lifetime. Not only will the student make more money, but his or her career will be far more satisfying.
But with the cost of higher education skyrocketing, many families are beginning to question whether a college degree is worth the price. The arithmetic is persuasive. At the stock market's historical 9% annual return (nominal return over the past 50 years), $100,000 not invested in a four-year college education would be worth over $3 million in 40 years. That return would handsomely eclipse the nominal lifetime earnings difference of $1 million often quoted for college vs. high school graduates. Put aside the fact that the four-year degree is being slowly replaced by the five-year degree, which bumps the cost of higher education even higher.
Facing criticism for a property-tax cap that doesn't include significant mandate relief, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday said local governments and schools need to tighten their belts to deal with a cap that will limit tax increases to 2 percent a year.
Municipalities and schools have raised objections over the recently adopted property-tax cap that doesn't include the broad reforms they were seeking to state-imposed mandated services.
But Cuomo, during a ceremonial tax-cap bill signing outside Buffalo, said schools and local governments need to find ways other than raising taxes.
One political party in Switzerland thinks PowerPoint presentations are actually costing the country billions of dollars.
The Anti-PowerPoint Party wants to ban the software from being used in Switzerland. It even compares PowerPoint to a disease.
Summer school doesn't necessarily mean hours spent in a school building anymore.
Several York County school districts have started offering summer school -- mostly for students who need to make up courses -- online. Some school officials said it's easier to manage with students' busy summer schedules and offers more tailored programs.
"Summer school has been a hardship for students and their families forevermore," said Shelly Merkle, assistant superintendent for administration for the York Suburban School District.
Students have always had difficulty committing to a summer schedule, she said. Some split time with parents or have difficulty finding transportation, or previously planned vacations become problematic.:
When course requirements at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology shifted 10 years ago, faculty members in the mathematics department found themselves with a new task in their job description. Not only did they have to teach their students to solve equations; they also had to instruct them in writing and communicating effectively on the subject.
This change in duties -- which mirrored similar shifts in the teaching of discipline-specific writing at other institutions -- gave rise to a host of new challenges, from the administrative to the pedagogic, said Haynes Miller, professor of math at MIT. The math faculty there had to learn how to teach the subject from a different perspective -- one in which words, not just numbers and symbols, are given emphasis.
In today's Academic Minute, the University of North Florida's Katie Monnin describes how the use of graphic novels in the classroom can improve reading comprehension and attitudes about reading among young readers. Monnin is an assistant professor of literacy at North Florida and author of the forthcoming Really Reading with Graphic Novels and Teaching Content Area Graphic Novels.
State investigators have uncovered a decade of systemic cheating in the Atlanta Public Schools and conclude that Superintendent Beverly Hall knew or should have known about it, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has learned.Douglas Stanglin:
In a report that Gov. Nathan Deal planned to release today, the investigators name nearly 180 educators, including more than three dozen principals, as participants in cheating on state curriculum tests, officials said over the weekend. The investigators obtained scores of confessions.
The findings suggest the national accolades that Hall and the school system have collected -- and the much-vaunted academic progress for which she claimed credit -- were based on falsehoods. Raising test scores apparently became a higher priority than conducting the district's business in an ethical manner.
Details are beginning to tumble out from a 428-page report by state investigators on alleged cheating in Atlanta Public Schools.PBS NewsHour:
On Tuesday, Gov. Nathan Deal released only a two-page summary of the report showing organized, systemic cheating in Atlantic Public Schools by scores of educators, including 38 principals.
Deal says "there will be consequences" for educators who cheated and has forwarded the findings to three district attorneys as well as state and city education officials.
GWEN IFILL: Now, an exhaustive new report reveals nearly 200 educators cheated to boost student test scores in Atlanta, a problem that has surfaced in school districts across the country.
The Georgia investigation commissioned by Gov. Nathan Deal found, results were altered on state curriculum tests by district administrators, principals and teachers for as long as a decade. Educators literally erased and corrected students' mistakes to make sure schools met state-imposed testing standards. And it found evidence of cheating in 44 of the 56 schools examined for the 2009 school year.
Under the Constitution’s terms, the age-old practice of ‘untouchability’, that had helped create and sustain a hierarchical social order with religious sanction, was officially drawn to a close. Subsequently, the Indian state also launched the world’s most extensive affirmative action program (referred to as ‘positive discrimination’) designed to bring redress for more than a millennial-span of discrimination. Later, in 1993, it attempted to implement the recommendations of the Mandal Commission Report of 1980 which had called for sweeping reservations in government employment quotas for the socially-disadvantaged castes.
These efforts to bring about social change through constitutional design and enabling legislation did not prove to be a panacea in addressing this social ill. Still, coupled with powerful social movements during the 1960s, in several of India’s southern states, most notably in Tamil Nadu, a virtual non-violent social revolution took place, dramatically challenging sacerdotal authority.
A couple of key actions have to happen this week for Teach for America to come to Seattle Schools.
One is at the Board meeting on Wednesday night. There is a state entity called the Professional Educator Standards Board (PESB) that grants educational entities the right to create conditional certificate programs. They require School Board approval has to happen prior to "applying for a conditional certficiate for a teacher candidate. Therefore, Board action is required to hire any TFA candidate if any are selected for hire by a school-based hiring team."
The second action that needs to happen is on Thursday, at the PESB meeting where the UW's College of Education will present their proposal for their teaching certificate program for TFA recruits (and only TFA recruits; no one else can apply to this program).
If you would like to let the PESB know what you think of the plan, e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org before Thursday.
About a dozen members of a bipartisan, mostly volunteer organization called Common Ground file into Superintendent Tony Evers' utilitarian conference room in downtown Milwaukee. The group is exploring how to help Milwaukee's beleaguered schools, and it has scheduled a meeting with the head of the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction as part of its research.How does Wisconsin compare to other states and the world? Learn more at www.wisconsin2.org.
Tall, thin and gray haired, Evers has a boyish smile and a welcoming manner. He's now in a white shirt and tie, sans the suit coat he wore to an earlier meeting with suburban school officials in Pewaukee.
Common Ground, a nonpartisan coalition that includes churches, nonprofits and labor unions, has come to Evers' office today looking for advice on how best to direct its considerable resources toward helping Milwaukee students, whose performance in both traditional public schools and in taxpayer-funded voucher schools ranks at the bottom of major American cities.
After initial pleasantries and introductions are exchanged, Keisha Krumm, lead organizer for Common Ground, asks Evers a question. "At this stage we're still researching what issue we will be focusing on. But we do want to know what you can do. What's your power and influence?"
The Madison School District will lose $6.7 million in state aid next year -- $2 million more than it anticipated -- according to estimates released Friday by the Department of Public Instruction.Related: 1983-2007 Wisconsin K-12 Spending Growth via WISTAX:
The 13.5 percent cut is third-highest in the state among K-12 districts and higher than the 10 percent cut the School Board used to calculate its preliminary budget last week.
The $43.2 million in aid is also nearly one-third less than the $60.8 million the district received from the state four years ago.
Superintendent Dan Nerad said continuous cuts in state aid are hurting the quality of public education.
"School districts like ours cannot continue to be in an environment like this with increased expectations for student performance, and yet we're not willing to provide the resources," Nerad said.
School may be out for the summer, but school choice is in, as states across the nation have moved to expand education opportunities for disadvantaged kids. This year is shaping up as the best for reformers in a very long time.
No fewer than 13 states have enacted school choice legislation in 2011, and 28 states have legislation pending. Last month alone, Louisiana enhanced its state income tax break for private school tuition; Ohio tripled the number of students eligible for school vouchers; and North Carolina passed a law letting parents of students with special needs claim a tax credit for expenses related to private school tuition and other educational services.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker made headlines this year for taking on government unions. Less well known is that last month he signed a bill that removes the cap of 22,500 on the number of kids who can participate in Milwaukee's Parental Choice Program, the nation's oldest voucher program, and creates a new school choice initiative for families in Racine County. "We now have 13 programs new or expanded this year alone" in the state, says Susan Meyers of the Wisconsin-based Foundation for Educational Choice.
A new study of twins suggests that environmental factors, including conditions in the womb, may be at least as important as genes in causing autism.
The researchers did not say which environmental influences might be at work. But other experts said the new study, released online on Monday, marked an important shift in thinking about the causes of autism, which is now thought to affect at least 1 percent of the population in the developed world.
"This is a very significant study because it confirms that genetic factors are involved in the cause of the disorder," said Dr. Peter Szatmari, a leading autism researcher who is the head of child psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at McMaster University in Ontario. "But it shifts the focus to the possibility that environmental factors could also be really important."
"India is still paying quite a heavy price for this"
India needs to broaden its base in the spheres of education, healthcare and women's equality to foster economic growth, said Nobel laureate Amartya Sen after receiving a honorary degree of Doctor of Literature from the National University of Educational Planning and Administration here on Monday.
Speaking at the special convocation, Prof. Sen was as vehement in demanding an equitable status for women as he was in seeking reforms in education and basic healthcare.
"India does have many achievements in the success of a relatively small group of privileged people well trained in higher education and specialised expertise. Yet our educational system remains deeply unjust. Among other bad consequences, the low coverage and low quality of school education in India extracts a heavy price in the pattern of our economic development," he said.
Heavily Democratic Massachusetts on Friday became the latest state to curtail public workers' collective-bargaining rights, as lawmakers approved a $30.6 billion budget that gives cities and towns greater leeway to force employees to pay more for their health care.
The restrictions come as states including Ohio and Wisconsin, where Republicans control the governor's office and legislature, have been attacking collective bargaining.
More-recent moves elsewhere show Democrats, long union allies, are starting to demand more savings from public employees as well. In New Jersey, the Democrat-controlled legislature recently passed cuts to pension and health-care benefits pushed by Republican Gov. Chris Christie.
In Massachusetts, House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, a Democrat, said after Friday's vote that "this common-sense reform will save $100 million for cities and towns and preserve the jobs of fire-fighters, police officers and teachers."
Participants in Camp Invention at Glacier Edge Elementary School took recycling to new heights by building clubhouses largely out of materials like cardboard and bubble wrap.
"I just saw this long, thick (cardboard) tube in the recycling room," said Blake Dey, who will be a second grader at Glacier Edge Elementary School.
When a camp worker said the tube couldn't be cut with the tools available, it became a roof beam for the clubhouse.
Cayden Corning, who will be a second grader at Verona Area International School, was proud of the "secret area" he made in the clubhouse using a box and bubble wrap.
The clubhouse construction was part of the Curious Cypher Club, a new activity at Camp Invention this year. In addition to creating clubhouses starting with PVC piping for the framework, the campers cracked a variety of puzzling codes and solved a mystery.
A budget-related bill that Gov. Jerry Brown signed Thursday has sparked a division within the education community as school districts push to reverse new protections for teachers.
Lawmakers passed Assembly Bill 114 in the final 45 minutes of the legislative session Tuesday night. The bill protects teachers from further layoffs in the new fiscal year.
It also requires districts to ignore the possibility they could lose $1.5 billion in classroom funding in December as well as $248 million in school bus money.
Teachers say those protections ensure stability through the school year. District officials say those requirements restrict their ability to plan for a midyear reduction. They are also frustrated by the suspension of requirements that districts show how they balance their budgets for three years.
Congratulations to the National Education Association, whose members have taken the extraordinary, remarkable, unprecedented move of conceding that teachers should be evaluated, at least a little bit, on how well their students learn.
On Monday, an assembly in Chicago representing the 3.2 million-member teachers union voted for a policy statement that student scores on standardized tests could be a "limited" part of a broader set of teacher performance indicators. So far, no existing student test appears to meet the NEA's standards as an appropriate indicator. But hey, the union's previous standard had been something closer to rewarding teachers merely for showing up and time served, a la Woody Allen's famous quip about 90% of life. The union also voted to give failing teachers one year, instead of the usual two, to shape up.
Credit here goes less to the NEA than to the laws of political gravity. Teachers unions have never been in such bad odor with the public. More than a dozen states are incorporating test scores in teacher evaluations as part of Education Secretary Arne Duncan's Race to the Top program.
After several years of state and local budget cuts, thousands of school districts across the nation are gutting summer-school programs, cramming classes into four-day weeks or lopping days off the school year, even though virtually everyone involved in education agrees that American students need more instruction time.
Los Angeles slashed its budget for summer classes to $3 million from $18 million last year, while Philadelphia, Milwaukee and half the school districts in North Carolina have eviscerated their programs or zeroed them out. A scattering of rural districts in New Mexico, Idaho and other states will be closed on Fridays or Mondays come September. And in California, where some 600 of the 1,100 local districts have shortened the calendar by up to five days over the past two years, lawmakers last week authorized them to cut seven days more if budgets get tighter.
"Instead of increasing school time, in a lot of cases we've been pushing back against efforts to shorten not just the school day but the week and year," said Justin Hamilton, a spokesman for the federal Department of Education. "We're trying to prevent what exists now from shrinking even further."
IN an essay published in 1895 called "How to Tell a Story," Mark Twain chastised writers who use "whooping exclamation-points" that reveal them laughing at their own humor, "all of which is very depressing, and makes one want to renounce joking and lead a better life."
One shudders to imagine what Twain would have made of e-mail.
Writing is by definition an imperfect medium for relaying the human voice. And in the age of electronic communication, when that voice is transmitted so often via e-mail and text message, many literate and articulate people find themselves justifying the exclamation point to convey emotion, enthusiasm or excitement. Some do so guiltily, as if on a slippery slope to smiley faces.
U.S. officials defended their schools--blaming poor performance on the relative prevalence of immigrant families in the United States. But Schleicher and his colleagues noted that native-born Americans performed just as unimpressively. In fact, worldwide, the share of children from immigrant backgrounds explains only 3 percent of the variance between countries. A country's wealth does not predict success, either. Gross domestic product per capita predicts only 6 percent of the difference in scores. Schleicher also noticed, however, that in the U.S. in particular, poverty was destiny. Low-income American students did (and still do) much worse than high-income ones on PISA. But poor kids in Finland and Canada do far better relative to their more privileged peers, despite their disadvantages.More, from Steve Hsu.
In Germany, the test became a household name and inspired a prime-time TV quiz show, The PISA Show. Even Schleicher's father began taking his work more seriously. Meanwhile, Schleicher visited dozens of schools and pored over the data. He concluded that the best school systems became great after undergoing a series of crucial changes. They made their teacher-training schools much more rigorous and selective; they put developing high-quality principals and teachers above efforts like reducing class size or equipping sports teams; and once they had these well-trained professionals in place, they found ways to hold the teachers accountable for results while allowing creativity in their methods. Notably, in every case, these school systems devoted equal or more resources to the schools with the poorest kids.
These days, Schleicher travels the world with a PowerPoint presentation detailing his findings. It seems to have more data points embedded in its scatter plots than our galaxy has stars. When his audiences get distracted by the tribal disputes that plague education, he returns to the facts with a polite smile, like C-3PO with a slight German accent. He likes to end his presentation with a slide that reads, in a continuously scrolling ticker, "Without data, you are just another person with an opinion ... Without data, you are just another person with an opinion ..."
How does Wisconsin stack up against the world? Learn more, here: www.wisconsin2.org.
Why is the performance of students in other countries surpassing that of U.S. students? It's a question that Marc S. Tucker, president and chief executive officer of the National Center on Education and the Economy in Washington sought to answer at a May symposium focused on education reforms in other countries, including Canada, China, Finland, Japan and Singapore.Where does Wisconsin stand globally? Learn more, here: www.wisconsin2.org.
The report, "Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: An American Agenda for Education Reform," provides some scathing criticism of the U.S. for allowing other nations to catch up and then surpass America in K-12 education.
After the symposium, Tucker spoke about what we can learn from his group's findings. Below are excerpts of the conversation.
Q: The report indicates that countries outperforming the U.S. have developed strategies we have not. What are the key lessons about high performance we can take away from what is being done elsewhere?
Released on April 28, 2011, The Promise of College Completion: KIPP's Early Successes and Challenges reports the college outcomes for our earliest KIPP students. It also examines our early lessons learned in supporting KIPP students through college, and shares the ways we are addressing the challenges of college completion.
Click below to download:
Starting this fall, the Indiana Department of Education will no longer require Indiana's public schools to teach cursive writing.
State officials sent school leaders a memo April 25 telling them that instead of cursive writing, students will be expected to become proficient in keyboard use.
The memo says schools may continue to teach cursive as a local standard, or they may decide to stop teaching cursive altogether.
Greene County resident and parent Ericka Hostetter has mixed feelings about the teaching of cursive. She has three children, and two will be in public schools next fall.
"I'm right in the middle," she said, noting that she learned about it on Facebook. "I don't use cursive much. I use keyboard. I use my phone, so even for my generation, I think we use the keyboard more."
I will begin by acknowledging there are many facets of the latest California Budget that are onerous to many organizations. With that said, I will focus on the educational piece.
The latest State Budget by our leaders in Sacramento has not only put education in a precarious and unknown position but also ties the hands of the very people who are supposed to protect and lead school districts.
If in January revenues fall $2 billion or more short of projections the following will happen:
School district revenues would be reduced 4 percent, or $1.5 billion (an average of $250 per student)
Michelle Langenfeld will earn $190,000 a year when she takes over as superintendent in mid-July, making her the highest paid school official in the greater Green Bay area.
That's about what the district would have paid former superintendent Greg Maass if he'd kept his post, Green Bay School Board officials say. Maass, who started a similar position in Massachusetts on Friday, collected roughly $188,000 in 2010-11.
Salaries and benefits for public workers have come under the microscope as governments search for ways to trim costs.
Click on the link at left beneath Related Links to search our salary database.
A new state law requires all public employees to pay 5.8 percent of their salaries toward retirement benefits. Most public employees also are being asked to pay more for insurance to help balance the books.
Michigan has joined the ranks of states that have made education reform a priority. Although the state still lags far behind others in terms of student performance, new tenure and teacher evaluation measures should help Michigan students improve.
On Thursday, the Senate passed revised versions of House reform bills. It will now be more difficult for new teachers to achieve the protections of tenure and easier to lose them if they don't do their jobs well. And teacher performance will be judged largely on how much their students learn.
Similarly, seniority can no longer determine teacher layoffs; rather, the most effective teachers will remain in classrooms. These are common-sense changes, which place the needs of children first.
It was a tough week for lawmakers, squeezed from both sides of the reform debate. Education unions, such as the Michigan Education Association, pressured lawmakers to avoid such rigorous reforms, while groups such as the Education Trust-Midwest and StudentsFirst firmly advocated the changes.
The House quickly signed off on the amended bills, which now head to Gov. Rick Snyder. Although some reforms could be stronger, lawmakers accomplished much in a short amount of time.
Do all Chicago public high schools really need two Chicago police officers stationed inside them every day -- at a cost of $25 million a year?
The tab for police service -- begun under former Mayor Richard M. Daley -- recently more than tripled, prompting Chicago Public School officials faced with a $712 million deficit to start taking a hard look at whether every penny of that cost is being spent effectively.
"We're looking at if we need two police officers in every high school all day long. My guess is we don't," CPS Chief Administrative Officer Tim Cawley told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Public schools aren't the only ones divided over the state's new private school voucher program that became law Friday and is supposed to be in place by the time classes start in August.
Greater Lafayette private schools are split over the new system -- one that some say will expand educational opportunities but others fear could drag state regulations into the mix and restrict freedoms their classrooms currently enjoy.
A handful of Lafayette area schools will be taking advantage of the program. But with such a short time before the new school year starts, the most basic information about how to use the voucher program created by the General Assembly in April still is not available -- not even the online application form.
The process likely will face even greater delays in light of a lawsuit filed Friday in Marion County Superior Court by the Indiana State Teacher's Association. The lawsuit, which seeks an injunction to prevent the disbursement of funds under the new program, will continue to stall the process as it winds its way through the court system. All the while, private schools hoping to participate wait for answers.
One of the many things I learned producing my film The Finland Phenomenon, was the importance of setting a very high standard for the education and training of teachers.
Finland's high school teachers are required to have both a Bachelors and Masters degree in the subject they teach (e.g. - math, physics, history, etc) combined with one-year of pedagogical training with very heavy emphasis in real classroom teaching experience under the guidance of an outstanding seasoned teacher.
By contrast, most U.S. States require only a Bachelors degree from a college of education with an emphasis in the subject to be taught - and frequently that subject matter is taught by professors in the Education School, not in the actual subject department. Think of it as content and rigor "light" for teachers.
So, what should America do to apply this obvious lesson from Finland? My thoughts:
1- each U.S. State needs to cut off the supply of teachers not sufficiently prepared to teach this generation at its source. The source is colleges of education. A State legislature and Governor can change the requirements to be a teacher in their State. All it takes is courage to withstand the screams from colleges of education - the sacred cash cow of most universities.
2- To teach at the high school level, a State should require the prospective teacher to have at least an undergraduate degree in the subject they plan to teach and from the department that teaches that subject (e.g. - teaching math? Require a B.S. from the Math department).
A few weeks back, Governor Chafee invited Deborah Gist, Rhode Island's commissioner of public schools, to sit in on his meeting, arranged by the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers, with noted education historian Diane Ravitch.
The two energetic foes on school reform reportedly did not get along. Ms. Gist says that Ms. Ravitch kept making points irrelevant to Rhode Island. Ms. Ravitch says Ms. Gist interrupted her discourse repeatedly, and that in encounters with the powerful in America since 1958 (such as Sen. John F. Kennedy [D-Mass.]), she had "never encountered such behavior."
She demanded an apology from Ms. Gist. They later made peace. Mr. Chafee said he saw nothing inappropriate in Ms. Gist's behavior.
Both women have egos large enough to encompass their educational ambitions -- in fact, Ms. Ravitch has two pedagogical histories under her belt. She was once on Ms. Gist's "side" on school reform. That changed, says Ms. Ravitch, after she lost confidence in testing and charter schools as the prime strategies for success, and started pushing for more respect (pay) for teachers, less reliance on tests, less hope in charter schools and more trust in -- well, so far as we can tell -- in the status quo.
Well, that oversized Kindle didn't become the textbook killer Amazon hoped it would be, but at least one country is moving forward with plans to lighten the load on its future generation of Samsung execs. South Korea announced this week that it plans to spend over $2 billion developing digital textbooks, replacing paper in all of its schools by 2015. Students would access paper-free learning materials from a cloud-based system, supplementing traditional content with multimedia on school-supplied tablets. The system would also enable homebound students to catch up on work remotely -- they won't be practicing taekwondo on a virtual mat, but could participate in math or reading lessons while away from school, for example. Both programs clearly offer significant advantages for the country's education system, but don't expect to see a similar solution pop up closer to home -- with the US population numbering six times that of our ally in the Far East, many of our future leaders could be carrying paper for a long time to come.Brian S. Hall has more.
Father Joseph Maier describes how a hospital contacted him asking if he could look after a little girl who was blind and had Aids. She had been run over - by her parents.
"This is where you really wonder about the world," the then 69-year-old priest says. "You can understand warlords and pimps and addicts doing these horrible things. But the parents? Oh, boy! [They] used and abused this child and then tried to kill her. I'm not sure if the devil would compete on this level."
It's one of several disturbing scenes in a 15-minute film, which its two Australian filmmakers want to turn into a 90-minute documentary, called Father Joe and the Bangkok Slaughterhouse. The central character is Father Joe, a charismatic Redemptorist priest from the United States, who has been living in the Klong Toey slum since 1973. Shortly after he moved in, he set up the Human Development Foundation and its Mercy Centre, which now employs 330 people and runs 22 kindergartens, as well as a hospice, four orphanages and several other establishments, across Bangkok. "The Slaughterhouse" is a particularly poor area, set around the Klong Toey abattoir, where pigs are killed at night.
Heather Du Quesnay and Carlson Tong Ka-shing make an unlikely double act. Fate has thrown together the lofty, rather intimidating British chief executive of the English Schools Foundation (ESF) and the organisation's new chairman, an engagingly eager retired accountant. Their mission: to forge a new deal that will secure the future of ESF's 15 publicly funded schools.
On the way they run the gauntlet of parents fuming at the prospect of already high fees rising by another 3.3 per cent this year, teachers grumpy at their 3 per cent pay rise, a government whose view on funding the ESF is unclear and some taxpayers who are asking why they should subsidise privileged parents anyway.
At the heart of the matter is the foundation's subvention or subsidy. The colonial administration created the ESF in 1967 to provide affordable British-style education for English speakers. The foundation, set up by government ordinance, was given land and buildings and provided with the same recurrent funding per child as government and aided schools.
"They needed to provide both an English curriculum and also Chinese-style education through the local system, whether that meant teaching in English or Chinese," says Professor Mark Bray, an expert on international education at the University of Hong Kong.
After four Los Angeles school board members were sworn in for four-year terms Friday, a verbal skirmish broke out, with one member calling the newly reelected board president a flunky for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
Monica Garcia, who has strong ties to the mayor, was one of those reelected. She was also reappointed president of the seven-person panel.
But Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte could not let the meeting end without calling out her colleagues for playing politics. She heatedly criticized the district's actions, including allowing charter school operators to take over some campuses, and Garcia's leadership. Garcia has served as president, a largely ceremonial position, since 2006.
"I was personally hoping you'd give someone else a chance," said LaMotte, who nominated Steve Zimmer for the post. "There's so much that's wrong.... Something's got to change. I hope it will not work as it has for the past four years."
Harvard Graduate School of Education: Podcasts.
Diane Ravitch is the nation's most vocal educational historian. She once was one of the leading intellects behind the education reform movement -- emphasizing charter schools, testing and accountability. Over the past few years, she has become that movement's most vehement critic.
She pours out books, op-ed essays and speeches, including two this week at the Aspen Ideas Festival. She is very forceful, but there are parts of her new message that are hard to take. She is quick to accuse people who disagree with her of being frauds and greed-heads. She picks and chooses what studies to cite, even beyond the normal standards of people who are trying to make a point.
She has come to adopt the party-line view of the most change-averse elements of the teachers' unions: There is no education crisis. Poverty is the real issue, not bad schools. We don't need fundamental reform; we mainly need to give teachers more money and job security.
Nonetheless, Ravitch makes some serious points.
Vice President Joe Biden lambasted what he called an increasingly union-hostile "new" Republican party, during remarks delivered to National Education Association representatives today, raising the specter of high profile labor fights picked by Republican governors with public workers unions across the country.Mike Antonucci
"There is an organized effort to place blame for budget shortfalls on educators and other public workers. It is one of the biggest scams in modern American history," Biden said during a speech laden with political red meat, smoothing over past disagreements between teachers unions and the Obama Administration.
"The new Republican party has undertaken the most direct assault on labor, not just in my lifetime ... but literally since the 1920s," he said. "This is not your father's Republican party. This is a different breed of cat."
Biden's remarks to one of the nation's largest teachers unions, a speech that lasted about 30 minutes, came a day before its members are expected to decide whether to cast their support behind the administration in the 2012 presidential election.
The National Education Association Representative Assembly opened this morning in Chicago with 7,321 delegates attending, which is by far the lowest number since I began covering the convention in 1998.Mike Antonucci:
The atmosphere still resembles a political party convention, with speeches, confetti and deafening music, including the new NEA theme song, "Standing Strong":
"Standing strong, standing tall. Standing up for what is right and true, NEA is standing up for me and you!"
Coming soon to a Chevy truck commercial near you.
It is customary for the mayor of the host city to welcome the delegates, but since the mayor is Rahm Emanuel, NEA prudently got hold of Illinois Gov. Quinn instead. After the delegates adopted the standing rules for the assembly, it was time for NEA president Dennis Van Roekel's keynote speech.
There were two new business items (NBIs) of note debated this afternoon. The first was NBI C, submitted by the NEA Board of Directors, which directs the NEA president to "communicate aggressively, forcefully, and immediately to President Barack Obama and US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan that NEA is appalled with Secretary Duncan's practice of..." and then lists 13 of Duncan's most heinous crimes, like "Focusing so heavily on charter schools that viable and proven innovative school models (such as magnet schools) have been overlooked, and simultaneously failing to highlight with the same enthusiasm the innovation in our non-charter public schools."Stephanie Banchero:
Widespread unhappiness among teachers about President Barack Obama's education policies is threatening to derail a National Education Association proposal to give him an early endorsement for re-election.Associated Press:
The political action committee of the NEA, the nation's largest union, adopted a resolution in May to endorse Mr. Obama. The proposal will come before the NEA's 9,000-member representative assembly on Monday at the union's annual convention here.
The union has never endorsed a presidential candidate this early in the campaign cycle, instead waiting to make the decision during the election year. But union leaders, anticipating a tough re-election campaign, wanted to bolster support for the president early on, a move that has run into opposition from union members.
Vice President Joe Biden says the "new Republican Party" fundamentally doesn't believe in public education the way Democrats do.Much more, here.
"There is an organized effort to place blame for budget shortfalls on educators and other public workers. It is one of the biggest scams in modern American history," he was quoted as saying by the Chicago Tribune.
What does just about every fifth-grader know that stumps experts?The Wisconsin Center for Education Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has been working on "Value Added Assessment" using the oft-criticized WKCE.
Who the best teachers are in that kid's school. Who's hard, who's easy, who makes you work, who lets you get away with stuff, who gets you interested in things, who's not really on top of what's going on. In other words: how good each teacher is.
A lot of the time, the fifth-grader's opinions are on target.
But would you want to base a teacher's pay or career on that?
Sorry, the experts are right. It's tough to get a fair, thorough and insightful handle on how to judge a teacher.
"If there was a magic answer for this, somebody would have thought of it a long time ago," Bradley Carl of Wisconsin Center for Education Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison: told a gathering of about 100 educators and policy-makers last week.
A growing number of urban districts across the country are profoundly changing the role of the school district and its relationship to schools in order to bring about dramatically better outcomes for students. New York City, New Orleans, Chicago, Denver, Hartford, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C., are among more than 20 districts pursuing a "portfolio strategy" of continuous improvement. These districts are creating diverse options for families in disadvantaged neighborhoods by opening new autonomous schools, giving existing schools more control of budgeting and hiring, and holding all schools to common performance standards.
CRPE has been studying the development of the portfolio strategy in several cities for the past three years. This interim assessment finds that:
It all started when my daughter, also a Madison teacher, called me. "You have to get down to the union office. We need to call people to go to the rally at the Capitol." I told her I hadn't heard about the rally. "It's on Facebook," she responded impatiently. "That's how they did it in Egypt."
That Sunday rally in Capitol Square was just the first step in the massive protests against Gov. Scott Walker's infamous "budget repair bill." The Madison teachers' union declared a "work action" and that Wednesday, instead of going to school, we marched into the Capitol building, filling every nook and cranny. The excitement mounted day by day that week, as teachers from throughout the state were joined by students, parents, union and nonunion workers in the occupation and demonstrations.
￼￼Madison teachers stayed out for four days. It was four exhilarating days, four confusing days, four stressful and exhausting days.
When we returned to school the following week, I debated how to handle the days off. We had received a three- page email from our principal warning us to "remain politically neutral" as noted in the school board policy relating to controversial issues. We were to watch not only our words, but also our "tone and body language." If students wanted to talk about the rallies, we were to respond: "We are back in school to learn now."
These days tenure for teachers is such a brawl in America's elementary and secondary schools that it's easy to forget that it's more a cornerstone of higher education. When Austan Goolsbee, Chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisors, announced earlier this month that he was leaving the White House to return to the University of Chicago it was a reminder just how strong the ties -- and inducements -- of university tenure can be, and why it has recently come under fire.
At colleges and universities, tenure basically bestows a job for life unless an institution runs out of money. Originally intended to shield professors from meddling by college administrators, donors or politicians, tenure has evolved into one of the most coveted perks in higher education. It signals excellence and it confers employment stability.
The Oakland school district on Wednesday night unanimously passed a budget for the upcoming school year -- a conservative plan that included deep cuts and extra cash reserves to help cushion the district against the state's volatile funding stream.Oakland's enrollment is 38,826. The current budget is $472,800,000; which yields per student spending of $12,177. Locally, Madison spends roughly $14.5k per student.
The school district's total budget for 2011-12 is projected to be $472.8 million, down from $650.5 million in 2010-11. More than three-quarters of the decline -- $136 million of the $178 million drop -- is construction related. That's because the district has used much of its voter-approved bond money. So (Can you tell where this is going?) board members are already talking about asking Oakland taxpayers to support another levy, possibly next year.
The school district's general fund is smaller, too, without federal stimulus funds to mitigate years of state cutbacks: $376 million, down from $412 million in 2010-11.
Can't decide between that prestigious culinary school or the community college down the street? A new online tool created by the Department of Education could help students make that decision, with detailed price comparisons for colleges and universities of all types across the country.
If you're looking to go to school for free, New York's Webb Institute could fit the bill - if you're lucky enough to get in. The naval architecture and engineering school has only 80 undergraduates, all of whom get full scholarships, making the annual tuition price $0.
In the issue of The New Yorker dated two weeks after E. B. White died, his stepson, Roger Angell, wrote the following in the magazine's "Talk of the Town" section:
Last August, a couple of sailors paid an unexpected visit to my summer house in Maine: young sailors--a twelve-year-old-girl and an eleven-year-old boy. They were a crew taking part in a statewide small-boat-racing competition at a local yacht club, and because my wife and I had some vacant beds just then we were willingly dragooned as hosts. They were fine company--tanned and shy and burning with tactics but amenable to blueberry muffins and our exuberant fox terrier. They were also readers, it turned out. On their second night, it came out at the dinner table that E. B. White was a near neighbor of ours, and our visitors reacted to the news with incredulity. "No!" the boy said softly, his eyes traveling back and forth over the older faces at the table. "No-o-o-o!" The girl, being older, tried to keep things in place. "He's my favorite author," she said. "Or at least he was when I was younger." They were both a bit old for Stuart Little, Charlotte's Web, and The Trumpet of the Swan, in fact, but because they knew the books so well, and because they needed cheering up (they had done badly in the racing), arrangements were made for a visit to E. B. White's farm the next morning.
White, who had been ill, was not able to greet our small party that day, but there were other sights and creatures there to make us welcome: two scattered families of bantam hens and chicks on the lawn; the plump, waggly incumbent dog, name of Red; and the geese who came scuttling and hissing up the pasture lane, their wings outspread in wild alarm. It was a glazy, windless morning, with some thin scraps of fog still clinging to the water in Allen Cove, beyond the pasture; later on, I knew, the summer southwest breeze would stir, and then Harriman Point and Blue Hill Bay and the islands would come clear again. What wasn't there this time was Andy White himself: emerging from the woodshed, say, with an egg basket or a length of line in his hand; or walking away (at a mid-slow pace, not a stroll--never a stroll--with the dog just astern) down the grassy lane that turns and then dips to the woods and shore; or perhaps getting into his car for a trip to town, getting aboard, as he got aboard any car, with an air of mild wariness, the way most of us start up on a bicycle. We made do without him, as we had to. We went into the barn and examined the vacant pens and partitions and the old cattle tie-ups; we visited the vegetable garden and the neat stacks of freshly cut stove wood; we saw the cutting beds, and the blackberry patch behind the garage, and the place where the pigpen used to be--the place where Wilbur was born, surely. The children took turns on the old single-rope swing that hung in the barn doorway, hoisting themselves up onto the smoothed seat, made out of a single chunk of birch firewood, and then sailing out into the sunshine and back into barn-shadow again and again, as the crossbeam creaked above them and swallows dipped in and out of an open barn window far overhead. It wasn't much entertainment for them, but perhaps it was all right, because of where they were. The girl asked which doorway might have been the one where Charlotte had spun her web, and she mentioned Templeton, the rat, and Fern, the little girl who befriends Wilbur. She was visiting a museum, I sensed, and she would remember things here to tell her friends about later. The boy, though, was quieter, and for a while I thought that our visit was a disappointment to him. Then I stole another look at him, and I understood. I think I understood. He was taking note of the place, almost checking off corners and shadows and smells to himself as we walked about the old farm, but he wasn't trying to remember them. He looked like someone who had been there before, and indeed he had, for he was a reader. Andy White had given him the place long before he ever set foot on it--not this farm, exactly, but the one in the book, the one now in the boy's mind. Only true writers--the rare few of them--can do this, but their deed to us is in perpetuity. The boy didn't get to meet E. B. White that day, but he already had him by heart. He had him for good.
The state budget has left Milwaukee Public Schools reeling. Meeting this challenge requires a response from the entire community.
Local businesses and foundations will be called on to do more. The Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association should make a contribution to the district's pension plan to save teacher positions. And the district itself has to become more efficient by selling unused buildings and finding a less expensive way to feed its 85,000 students.
Of the 519 district employees being sent layoff notices, 354 would be teachers, according to Superintendent Gregory Thornton. Most of the cuts will come in kindergarten through eighth grade. And, as usual, it's mostly teachers with the least amount of experience who will be shown the door.
Rhythms in the brain that are associated with learning become stronger as the body moves faster, UCLA neurophysicists report in a new study.
The research team, led by professor Mayank Mehta, used specialized microelectrodes to monitor an electrical signal known as the gamma rhythm in the brains of mice. This signal is typically produced in a brain region called the hippocampus, which is critical for learning and memory, during periods of concentration and learning.
The researchers found that the strength of the gamma rhythm grew substantially as running speed increased, bringing scientists a step closer to understanding the brain functions essential for learning and navigation.
School districts have known for months that their state aid would be significantly cut for the new fiscal year that begins July 1. Today, reality hits home.
General state aid estimates were released this morning for school districts to plug into budgets until final numbers are available in October.
As expected, 410 of the state's 424 public school districts will receive less aid for the 2011-'12 fiscal year than for fiscal 2010-'11, according to the state Department of Public Instruction, which is required by law to provide general state aid estimates to school districts each July 1.
Many school districts handled the cuts by increasing employee contributions to health care and retirement when contracts expired this week, as part of the state's new collective bargaining law.
Kaukauna School District, which is expected to lose $2.75 million in state aid, was able to swing a $400,000 budget deficit into an estimated $1.5 million surplus by asking workers to pay more for health insurance and contribute pay toward their pensions, the Post-Crescent in Appleton reported. That district plans to hire teachers and reduce class size.
Once upon a time, the car was the key to understanding the U.S. economy. Then it was the family home. Nowadays, it is any device created by Steven P. Jobs. Call it the Apple economy, and if you can figure out how it works, you will have a good handle on how technology and globalization are redistributing money and jobs around the world.
That was the epiphany of Greg Linden, Jason Dedrick and Kenneth L. Kraemer, a troika of scholars who have made a careful study in a pair of recent papers of how the iPod has created jobs and profits around the world. The latest paper, "Innovation and Job Creation in a Global Economy: The Case of Apple's iPod," was published last month in The Journal of International Commerce and Economics.
One of their findings is that in 2006 the iPod employed nearly twice as many people outside the United States as it did in the country where it was invented -- 13,920 in the United States, and 27,250 abroad.
You probably aren't surprised by that result, but if you are American, you should be a little worried. That is because Apple is the quintessential example of the Yankee magic everyone from Barack Obama to Michele Bachmann insists will pull America out of its job crisis -- the remarkable ability to produce innovators and entrepreneurs. But today those thinkers and tinkerers turn out to be more effective drivers of job growth outside the United States than they are at home.
In a ceremony this week, Harlem Day Charter School celebrated its 13 fifth-graders who are moving on to middle school. They represent roughly one-third of the class.
The other two-thirds will have to repeat fifth grade.
That hard truth is one of many that the teachers, students and parents of Harlem Day have been confronting in recent months as the school prepares to become the city's first attempt at a takeover of a failing charter school.
Only five of 32 teachers will be returning in September. About 100 of all 247 students in the elementary school are being held back. And administrators are having tough conversations with parents about the true state of their children's academic progress. Parents are being told that students, who for years were passed from grade to grade, lack basic skills.
At Harlem Day, no students were held back last year, despite recent state tests that showed only 20% of students were on grade level in English and 25% were in math.
I attended last week's Metropolitan Democrats meeting. It wasn't an endorsement event but rather, one for their members to get a first look (and listen) to candidates ranging from King County Council to School Board Directors. It was a good chance to hear from the School Board candidates (although not all were present).
I saw a few other education activists in the crowd - Carol Simmons, Joanna Cullen and former SEA President, Wendy Kimble.
They went by district and District 1 - Peter Maier's district - was first. Like the other incumbents present, Peter spoke well and smoothly. This is something to be expected from a nearly 4-year incumbent. He pointed out that he had visited every school in his district, every year, over the course of his term. This is very commendable and a great idea for directors. He spoke of his background and that the NSAP had come into being during his term and that he had lead the school district ballot measures that had passed.
>Last year, battles over charter schools dominated much of education coverage. This year, the controversy over "teacher evaluations" is poised to be the biggest fight among people with competing visions for improving public schools. For a primer on how these new teacher assessments work, don't miss Sam Dillon's recent piece in the New York Times. Reporting from Washington, D.C., Dillon found that last year the city fired 165 teachers using a new teacher evaluation system; this year, the number will top 200.
D.C. relies on a relatively new evaluation system called Impact, a legacy of its former school chief Michelle Rhee, who noticed that, despite the district's low test scores, most teachers were getting nearly perfect evaluations. Rhee and the proponents of this new evaluation system feel that the old system relied too much on the subjective evaluations by the principal or a few experienced teachers. Opponents of the old system say these internal measurements are not data-driven or rigurous enough to allow principals and districts to identify struggling teachers who need assistance or to find the successful ones who deserve to be recognized and empowered.
Impact or other new evaluation systems are currently being implemented in around 20 states. The basic idea to use performance-based evaluations that use external measures such as test scores in addition to the internal measures mentioned above. Sparked by President Obama's Race to the Top grants, these "value-added" evaluations rely heavily on kids' test scores in math and reading. Teachers whose subjects are not measured by test scores are observed in the classroom. For example, D.C. teachers get five yearly classroom observations, three by principals and two by "master educators" from other schools.
I didn't learn to have school spirit until I was an upperclassman in college. School gear wasn't my thing, identifying with a school mascot wasn't, and the last thing I wanted to do was be associated with the cheerleaders, pep club squad, and athletes that seemed to make up the face of both my high school and college. Only after investing a sizable sum of my own money in a college education, as well as attending a school with a nationally renowned sports team, did I start to budge on the issue.
When I started working in my current position, many of the things that made up a school culture at the schools I attended (and student-taught for) were missing, though I was too wrapped up in dodging pencils and various other projectiles to notice. Our school had no mascot and its only logo was difficult to rally behind, as it was the outline of a computer (as it turns out, few athletes and students want to identify themselves as a piece of plastic a silicon). There were no official school colors, which led to an odd mix of jerseys, ranging from purple and white to gold and blue, and an awkward, generic basketball as on the front of our championship basketball team's jerseys.
When a child goes missing at a large public event, worried parents and the police would normally search through CCTV footage of the surrounding area. In the future they might try hunting through the photos being taken by smartphone owners instead, using a new system called Theia developed by a team of US researchers.
Privacy concerns aside, searching smartphone photos is a clever idea, but constantly querying someone's phone sounds like a great way to drain their battery - not a service that many people are likely to sign up for. That's why Theia is designed to cleverly manage energy usage, while also paying smartphone owners for sharing their photos.
It works like this. People sign up to Theia by downloading a mobile app that can search through photos stored in a folder designated for sharing, while search requests are carried out with a separate piece of software that runs on an ordinary computer. Searchers can select a number of options, such as face and body detection, texture matching, and colour filtering. For example, the system can find pictures of people's faces against a cloudy sky by combining face detection with a search for cloudy textures and the colour blue.
What happens when the gods of high finance dump a gigantic pile of gold on the richest university in the world?
It sounds like the kind of hypothetical one might pose in a smoke-addled dorm room at 2 a.m. But it is, of course, what actually happened to Harvard University, along with a few of its elite competitors, over the last 20 years.
The answer is that the university reveals its true self. It shows the world what it cares about--and what it doesn't.
In 1990, Harvard had an endowment of about $4.7-billion. That was still a lot of money, about $7.7-billion in today's dollars. Only five other universities have that much money now. Over the next two decades the pile grew to colossal heights, $36.9-billion by mid-2008.
This study describes how the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) was used for internationally benchmarking state performance standards. The process is accomplished in two steps. First, PISA items are embedded in the administration of the state assessment and calibrated on the state scale. The international item calibrations are then used to link the state scale to the PISA scale through common item linking. The second step is to use the statistical linking as part of the state standard setting process to help standard setting panelists determine how high their state standards need to be in order to be internationally competitive. This process was carried out in Delaware, Hawaii, and Oregon, and results are reported here for two of the states: Hawaii and Delaware.Review Wisconsin's position vs Minnesota, Massachusetts and Singapore, here.
Key words: Equating, linking, item response theory, international benchmarking.
In 2010, the American Institutes for Research obtained permission from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to use secure items from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) for purposes of linking state assessments within the United States to the PISA scale. The OECD provided a representative sample of 30 secure PISA items in Reading, Mathematics, and Science. The PISA items covered the 2006 and 2009 PISA assessment cycles. In addition to the PISA items, the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), which is the current vender for the OECD contracted to conduct PISA, provided the international item parameters and their standard errors, as well as the linear transformations needed to link the state assessments to the PISA scale. The administration, security, and scoring of the PISA items were carried out by the American Institutes for Research (AIR) based on a License Agreement between AIR and the OECD and monitored by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
New York's largest teachers union is suing the state Board of Regents over the state's new system for evaluating public-school teachers, a move that could derail plans by the city and hundreds of other school districts to start basing reviews on how well students perform on standardized tests.
In court papers filed in state Supreme Court late Monday, New York State United Teachers claimed that education officials violated the law when they gave school districts the option of assigning significantly more weight to state assessments in their annual reviews of teachers.
Under the law, teachers could lose their jobs if their students continually fail to improve their scores on state standardized tests.
The union, a labor federation representing hundreds of thousands of teachers, claims that the regulations handed down by the Board of Regents run afoul of the evaluation law, which lawmakers approved last year and is set to take effect in July.
The union's suit is asking a judge to put the evaluation plan on hold until courts rule on whether it's legal.
I hope you enjoyed a few days off after a busy year. To the normal craziness of spring, you probably had the heartache of considering budget cuts and layoffs.
You probably work in a state and district that imposes a lot of constraints on your hiring, curriculum, materials, school hours, and facilities. After food and transportation, if your district takes more than 5% for administration your kids are getting shorted.
Let's think about the improvement levers you've been able to influence:
1) Culture: the behavior you model, the tone of your communications, and the way you deal with challenges shape the culture of your school community.
2) Goals: the way you describe and champion learning expectations for your students and goals for your staff may be your most important role. The habits of mind that you encourage could shape student thinking for decades.
A former classroom teacher who grew up in the inner city in Milwaukee, Andreal Davis is the assistant director for equity and family involvement for the Madison Metropolitan School District. She is in charge of making sure resources are allocated fairly among schools, that students come to school prepared and that they have equal access to learning opportunities. And in a district where there are now more students of color than there are white students, and where the number of students from economically disadvantaged families is just a shade under 50 percent, an increasingly important part of Davis' job is to help teachers, students and their families work together effectively.
Research shows that a strong partnership between home and school is one of the most critical elements in helping all students succeed, but when there's little common ground or cultural understanding between teachers and the families they are serving, misunderstandings and communication failures are inevitable, and can lead to rocky relationships.
The next time some Republican wonders why the African-American community doesn't just come to its senses and start to vote the GOP ticket, point him to Pennsylvania.
This past November, Republican Tom Corbett successfully campaigned for governor on a platform that included giving Pennsylvania moms and dads more options for where they can send their children to school. Given that he enjoys Republican majorities in both the House and Senate, prospects for making good on this promise were, as the Philadelphia Inquirer recently put it, "once considered a slam dunk." With just two days before the legislature takes off for the summer, however, the GOP leadership is sending mixed signals. As we go to press, school choice is in political limbo.
At the heart of this debate is Senate Bill 1. Co-sponsored by Republican Sen. Jeffrey Piccola and Democrat Anthony Williams, it would allow parents of a needy child to take the money the state pays to their home school district and apply it to the public, private or parochial school of their choice. The plan would be phased in and expanded over three years. It further includes a $25 million increase in a popular state program that gives tax credits to businesses that donate money for scholarships.
Barely six weeks after his inauguration as mayor, Rahm Emanuel faced his first open dispute Wednesday with a unionized workforce that largely opposed his candidacy.
In a statement issued Wednesday afternoon, labor officials responded testily to Emanuel's public threat earlier in the day to lay off hundreds of city workers unless their unions accept his demands for unspecified "work rule changes and efficiencies."
Emanuel said his proposal would save the city $20 million, and its rejection would force him to lay off more than 600 city workers, but labor leaders shot back that the plan was "unacceptable."
The impasse came as a two-year contract concession agreement with city worker unions was set to expire Thursday. Under the deal, forged by Mayor Richard M. Daley in 2009, workers took as many as 24 unpaid days off work each year and gave up overtime pay and wage increases.
The U.S. Department of Justice on Tuesday approved a new law that gives Gov. Nathan Deal the power to suspend the entire Atlanta school board for jeopardizing the city district's accreditation.
With that consent, state school board members will hold a hearing that involves the local nine-member board no later than July 31. They will then make a recommendation to the governor.
Deal does not have to follow the state board's recommendation. But if he suspends local members, Deal will make interim appointments and ousted board members will be allowed to appeal for reinstatement.
"I'm pleased," said House Majority Whip Edward Lindsey, R-Atlanta, who helped write the bill that gave Deal such extraordinary power over the board's future. "Now we can focus on the best needs of the 48,000 children in Atlanta Public Schools."
No wonder bullying remains a persistent problem in public schools.
When teachers engage in such behavior, kids can be expected to follow their example.
It's become apparent that bullying may be necessary to guarantee the survival of the Wisconsin Education Association Council, the state's largest teachers union.
That's because state law will no longer bully on behalf of the union.
Until now, anyone who secured a teaching job at a Wisconsin public school automatically became a de facto member of the teachers union. Teachers had the option of avoiding official membership, but dues were still deducted from their paychecks and they were still represented by the union.
Years ago, he wore a tweed jacket and smoked a pipe. He was friendly but aloof, a thoughtful fellow toiling in the shade of mystique.Steve Hsu has more.
Back then, he was more of a sage than a salesman. It's said that he could judge applicants' potential by reading their essays and absorbing their words in interviews. His college's bottom line was someone else's concern; he was paid to counsel students, not to crunch numbers.