Nichols said though she disagreed with Silveira's vote, "This is bigger than Madison Prep."
"My motivation comes from listening to a lot of the community dialogue over the last year and hearing the voices of community members who want greater accountability, who want more diversity in the decision-making and just a call for change," Nichols said.
Silveira did not return a call for comment Friday.
Two candidates have announced plans to run for the other School Board seat up for election next spring, which is being vacated by Lucy Mathiak. They are Mary Burke, a former state commerce secretary and Trek Bicycle executive, and Michael Flores, a Madison firefighter, parent and East High graduate.
THE SPORTING SCENE about the football program at Don Bosco Preparatory School in Ramsey, New Jersey. Don Bosco, which belongs to the Salesian order of Roman Catholicism, was founded in 1915, as a boarding school for Polish boys, and shut its dormitories for good in 1969. Its reinvention as a football factory began in 1999, with the arrival of a new principal, Father John Talamo.) Talamo, who was thirty-four, had grown up on the outskirts of New Orleans, and brought with him the football-centric values of his native Louisiana.
State and local education officials are reviewing proposals for a charter school at Great Lakes Naval Station in northern Illinois.Review the charter proposal here: Charter School Opportunity PDF.
The Illinois State Board of Education and a school district in North Chicago say they've gotten three applications to run a charter school on the base.
The school would be open to all families within the district's boundaries, including those not connected to the military.
Related: The proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter school.
That is a request from J. and here is one recent story, with much more at the link:A global study of learning standards in 74 countries has ranked India all but at the bottom, sounding a wake-up call for the country's education system. China came out on top.On this question, you can read a short Steve Sailer post, with comments attached. Here are my (contrasting) observations:
1. A big chunk of India is still at the margin where malnutrition and malaria and other negatives matter for IQ. Indian poverty is the most brutal I have seen, anywhere, including my two trips to sub-Saharan Africa or in my five trips to Haiti. I don't know if Pisa is testing those particular individuals, but it still doesn't bode well for the broader distribution, if only through parental effects.
Truly involving parents and communities in our public schools, and the decisions that affect them, is essential to improving our school system.
While parent involvement is crucial to a child's educational success, the reality is that such involvement is not always present for various reasons. However, the larger communities in which a student's school and home are located also play an instrumental role in nurturing educational achievement, as expressed by the African proverb, "It takes a village to raise a child."
Unfortunately over the past several years, the Department of Education has consistently failed to meaningfully empower and involve these important stakeholders in its decisions about schools. Nowhere has this been more evident than in the Education Department's decisions and proposals regarding closing or phasing out schools, and opening new ones.
The Plains Art Museum announced plans Thursday to open a "Center for Creativity" that will teach art to thousands of local elementary school students.
The $2.8 million center will open next fall near the museum in downtown Fargo.
Museum Director Colleen Sheehy said in the first year the center will serve 5,000 Fargo elementary students. Schools will pay a fee for the classes.
Ultimately, Sheehy said the new center will teach art education to the 12,000 K-5 students in the Fargo-Moorhead area. Programs offered at the center will replace some existing art education programs in the schools.
The center will significantly increase the number of people who use the museum, she said.
Lower marriage rates among black women have less to do with the character of black men, and more to do with specific social characteristics that are associated with lower marriage rates among all men and women, but are more common among black people. A black woman with a postsecondary degree is more likely to be married than a white woman who dropped out of high school. A black woman with a personal annual income of more than $75,000 is more than twice as likely to be married as white women who live in poverty. White women living in New York and Los Angeles have much lower marriage rates than most black women who live in small towns.
Black and white women who are younger than 40 have higher college graduation rates, lower incarceration rates and lower mortality rates when compared to their male counterparts. However, black men on average have higher incomes than black women, and there are hundreds of thousands more black men earning $75,000 a year or more than black women. Eighty-eight percent of all married black men are married to black women, a figure that changes less than five percentage points with more education and income.
More than 100 students attended Minnesota's first-ever conference for undocumented high school students seeking a college education Saturday at the University of Minnesota.
The event, organized by the group Navigate, included workshops on the legal and financial steps to college.
Navigate Executive Director Juventino Meza said the group had a lot of support for the event, but he says there was some criticism over calling it a conference for, quote, "undocumented students."
"And we decided, you know what, there is a negative rhetoric already in our communities and there is fear, and we want to make sure students have a space where they can be undocumented -- where they can talk about it and ask questions," he said.
Many South Carolina public colleges and universities are excessively expensive and have strayed too far from their core mission: educating students, according to a recent study by a Columbia-based think tank.
Tuition is rising faster than household income in South Carolina, says the study of eight colleges and universities by the S.C. Policy Council, a public policy research and education foundation that advocates for more limited government.
The study, which did not include Winthrop University, The Citadel and many other state institutions, also says:
The colleges and universities do a poor job of retaining and graduating students.
It's lunchtime at Van Nuys High School and students stream into the cafeteria to check out the day's fare: black bean burgers, tostada salad, fresh pears and other items on a new healthful menu introduced this year by the Los Angeles Unified School District.
But Iraides Renteria and Mayra Gutierrez don't even bother to line up. Iraides said the school food previously made her throw up, and Mayra calls it "nasty, rotty stuff." So what do they eat? The juniors pull three bags of Flamin' Hot Cheetos and soda from their backpacks.
"This is our daily lunch," Iraides says. "We're eating more junk food now than last year."
For many students, L.A. Unified's trailblazing introduction of healthful school lunches has been a flop. Earlier this year, the district got rid of chocolate and strawberry milk, chicken nuggets, corn dogs, nachos and other food high in fat, sugar and sodium. Instead, district chefs concocted such healthful alternatives as vegetarian curries and tamales, quinoa salads and pad Thai noodles.
It's dangerous to be away. I briefly left the country a few weeks ago, and while I was gone, the district superintendent announced her retirement and The Spokesman-Review (SR) launched what I see as a media "lynching" of a local high school teacher.
Did you read about the attack on Jennifer Walther, an Advanced Placement English teacher (news.google.com search) at Ferris High School in Spokane, WA? Are you shocked by the newspaper's biased coverage? I'm not shocked. Nowadays, the SR doesn't bear much resemblance to the newspapers I've enjoyed reading. Smaller, thinner and nastier, it contains less content, less local news and more ads. Often biased, incomplete or hypocritical, the paper tolerates questionable material that fits an editorial agenda.
I'm an avid newspaper reader, but I canceled the SR in 2008 when it kept quoting unsubstantiated rumors from the ex-boyfriend of the daughter of vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Things have not improved since then.
Now, the SR is using its bully pulpit to accuse Walther of doing something the SR appears to do nearly every day of the week - pursue a biased political agenda. Evidence suggests that, rather than stand up for this teacher, the school district and teachers union initiated or are assisting with the pile-on.
Earlier this year, two top Delaware State University officials visited two colleges in Ohio.
President Harry L. Williams and Provost Alton Thompson took the trips not to meet with fellow leaders in higher education. They wanted to see two high schools -- operated by and located on the campuses of Akron University and Lorain County Community College.
The model they saw in action on their visits is known as "Early College High School." And if the state approves its charter school application, DSU will open the first school of that type in Delaware on its Dover campus by the fall of 2013.
A cascade of statistics from the 2010 Census and other Census Bureau sources released during 2011 show a nation in flux--growing and moving more slowly as it ages, infused by racial and ethnic minorities and immigrants in its younger ranks, and struggling economically across a decade bookended by two recessions. The nation's largest metropolitan areas, and especially their suburbs, stood on the front lines of America's evolving demographic transformation. Following is a slideshow of the five most important findings to emerge from our State of Metropolitan America analyses over the past year. Additional insight from co-author William H. Frey is available in a related video and at time.com.
Wow....talk about standing out in a crowd!
The SPASD Administration wants SPASD to stand out, and it sure does now.
We're the leaders! Well...in millrate anyway.
If we look at SPASD vs. the 20 similar sized school districts (10 larger and 10 smaller in enrollments), Sun Prairie is head and shoulders above the rest in mill rate ($12.62) and has the 4th highest tax levy!
While our rival, Middleton-Cross Plains bests out slightly in terms of tax levy, we cream them in mill rate.
A $200,000 home in Sun Prairie will pay $482 MORE in taxes this year than a similar value home in MCPSD.
As discussed in prior posts, high-quality analyses of charter school effects show that there is wide variation in the test-based effects of these schools but that, overall, charter students do no better than their comparable regular public school counterparts. The existing evidence, though very tentative, suggests that the few schools achieving large gains tend to be well-funded, offer massive amounts of additional time, provide extensive tutoring services and maintain strict, often high-stakes discipline policies.
There will always be a few high-flying chains dispersed throughout the nation that get results, and we should learn from them. But there's also the issue of whether a bunch of charters schools with different operators using diverse approaches can expand within a single location and produce consistent results.
Charter supporters typically argue that state and local policies can be leveraged to "close the bad charters and replicate the good ones." Opponents, on the other hand, contend that successful charters can't expand beyond a certain point because they rely on selection bias of the best students into these schools (so-called "cream skimming"), as well as the exclusion of high-needs students.
Educators forced out or disciplined by local districts over cheating and other state testing violations continued working in schools or administering state exams as their cases languished in Springfield without investigation, the Tribune has learned.
Contrary to Illinois law, state officials for years didn't investigate or pursue discipline of educators reported for testing misconduct -- from excessive coaching to giving students answers to prepping them with actual test questions, a Tribune investigation found. Some may have been allowed to keep teaching even if the state had investigated, but in the meantime, educators were allowed to jump easily to new jobs while the state delayed.
Illinois State Board of Education officials say they were instead focused on higher-priority discipline cases because of limited resources, though lawmakers have given the agency $1.3 million since 2008-09 to pursue educator misconduct. Typically, they addressed violations by throwing out test results and letting local officials discipline educators.
Buffalo's Promise Neighborhood project was one of five in the nation to secure federal funding to provide "cradle to career" services for children in an effort to improve educational outcomes among low-income areas, federal officials announced today.
The local initiative will receive five years of funding from the federal government, including $1.5 million in its first year. M&T Bank this fall pledged to match the federal funds and to raise an additional $9 million in private funding.
The initiative is largely modeled after the Harlem Children's Zone, where families in a 100-block area receive wraparound services, from health care to educational support, beginning with prenatal care and leading through high school graduation.
Buffalo's Promise Neighborhood will focus on the 14215 ZIP code, building on the success that has been realized in the Westminster Community Charter School. The plan seeks to stabilize the neighborhood, increase services to families, and ultimately improve the education at three schools in that area: Bennett High School, Highgate Heights Elementary and Westminster Community Charter School.
When asked to identify the qualities that lead to success in life, experts often list the ability to overcome obstacles. Pushing past adversity, through determination and persistence, is the hallmark of the greatest leaders, the most successful parents, the most prized employees, we are told. Those who make no excuses, who do whatever it takes to get something done, are the ones who have the capacity to achieve greatness.
In education, we focus a lot on accommodating our student's needs. We have English Language Learners (E.L.L.s) and special education students. We have kids with emotional disturbances and anger issues. We have kids who are acting out, and kids who are uninterested or bored.
It's our job to teach them no matter what. We are often the adults that children see with the most consistency and frequency, and we are responsible for their educations, in the broadest sense of that word. But to truly help them be successful, we ourselves have to embody the "no excuses" attitude.
The director of the Iowa Department of Education said he's willing to be patient with his plan to overhaul the state's public school system, acknowledging that many people aren't ready for changes he thinks are essential.
Gov. Terry Branstad chose 40-year-old Jason Glass largely because of his background in education reform, and since coming to Iowa he has been leading the push for dramatic changes to the state's public schools.
Because he began his job only a couple weeks before the last legislative session began, this was supposed to be the session where Glass would see his ambitious plans enacted. He proposed a 15-page package of proposals that would shake up the state's schools, changing the way they do business on everything from paying teachers to opening the profession to non-traditional educators.
That still may happen, but Branstad has temporarily shelved a proposed tiered system of teacher pay that increased salaries for beginning teachers and let teacher move through a series of pay grades based on performance in the classroom.
Sherri and Cliff Nitschke thought they were planning wisely for their children's college educations when they opened a 529 savings account in 1998.
The Fresno couple saved diligently over the years in hopes of avoiding costly student loans. But their timing couldn't have been worse.
When they needed the money a decade later, their 529 account had plunged in value during the global financial crisis. Their portfolio sank 30% in 2008, forcing the Nitschkes to borrow heavily to send their two sons to UCLA.
"529s were no friend to us," Cliff Nitschke said. "Honestly, it's probably one of the worst things we did. I could have made more money putting it in a mayonnaise jar and burying it in the backyard."
Over the last decade, 529 savings plans have surged in popularity as parents scramble to keep up with rapidly escalating college costs.
Fordham's latest study, "Do High Flyers Maintain Their Altitude? Performance Trends of Top Students," is the first to examine the performance of America's highest-achieving children over time at the individual-student level. Produced in partnership with the Northwest Evaluation Association, it finds that many high-achieving students struggle to maintain their elite performance over the years and often fail to improve their reading ability at the same rate as their average and below-average classmates. The study raises troubling questions: Is our obsession with closing achievement gaps and "leaving no child behind" coming at the expense of our "talented tenth"--and America's future international competitiveness? Read on to learn more.
The Chinese-language teacher "borrowed" the time allocated for physical education. Again. Instead of 45 minutes of running and playing, there was a quiz on reading and writing.
"We're used to it. We knew she would never pay (the time) back," Rong Yiyang, a third-grader, said as he blinked behind his glasses.
Losing a sports lesson that Tuesday morning pained him more than ever. The 9-year-old boy had just quit the school's basketball team because practice was conflicting with his after-school English class.
Here comes the unwritten rule for Rong and most other Chinese students: Exercise is not bad, but study takes priority - despite a nationwide requirement that schools get kids moving regularly.
With one hand, Gov. Bob McDonnell touted his plan this week to pump millions more dollars over the next two years into Virginia's K-12 education system. With the other, he proposed cutting millions of dollars that will leave holes in the budgets of school districts across the commonwealth.
The result, unfortunately, is a budget that fails to boost the quality of K-12 education in Virginia and, in fact, may ultimately undermine it.
McDonnell's decision to withhold inflationary adjustments for so-called "non-personal" education expenses, including school utilities and employee health care and student transportation, means localities will be forced to cover an extra $109 million over the next two years. Revising a formula that factors in federal funds will allow the state to save another $108 million.
Wealthy donors have created a fund to pay the salary of a new Bridgeport school superintendent, ushering in hopes of a new era of private money for reform efforts in Connecticut's most troubled school system.
City and school officials said the fund would be administered by the Fairfield County Community Foundation, a $150 million organization where Democratic Rep. Jim Himes and former Bridgeport mayoral hopeful Mary-Jane Foster serve as board members.
African-American students whose primary language is English perform significantly worse in math and reading than black students who speak another language at home -- typically immigrants or refugees -- according to new numbers released by Seattle Public Schools.
District officials, who presented the finding at a recent community meeting at Rainier Beach High School, noted the results come with caveats, but called the potential trend troubling and pledged to study what might be causing it.
Michael Tolley, an executive director overseeing Southeast Seattle schools, said at the meeting that the data exposed a new achievement gap that is "extremely, extremely alarming."
The administration has for years analyzed test scores by race. It has never before broken down student-achievement data by specific home language or country of origin -- it is rare for school districts to examine test scores at that level -- but it is unlikely that the phenomenon the data suggest is actually new.
Sweeping education reforms proposed by Gov. Terry Branstad are likely to include the creation of a task force that would consider extending the amount of time Iowa students spend in school.
Branstad announced in October that he'll ask lawmakers to approve reforms aimed at improving education for Iowa's 468,000 students and better the quality of the state's teachers.
Class-time extensions were not included in his original plan.
But Jason Glass, director of the Iowa Department of Education, last week told an advisory group of school superintendents that Branstad is expected to add the creation of a task force to consider such extensions. The task force would likely consider adding 10 days to the school year, lengthening school days and requiring struggling students to go to school on Saturdays or take summer classes, the Des Moines Register reported ( http://dmreg.co/rFkPsg).
Iowa currently has a 180-day school year. State law mandates that each school day last at least 5.5 hours, but most students are in class an average of 6.5 hours.
VIEWED superficially, the part of youth that the psychologist Jean Piaget called middle childhood looks tame and uneventful, a quiet patch of road on the otherwise hairpin highway to adulthood.
Said to begin around 5 or 6, when toddlerhood has ended and even the most protractedly breast-fed children have been weaned, and to end when the teen years commence, middle childhood certainly lacks the physical flamboyance of the epochs fore and aft: no gotcha cuteness of babydom, no secondary sexual billboards of pubescence.
Yet as new findings from neuroscience, evolutionary biology, paleontology and anthropology make clear, middle childhood is anything but a bland placeholder. To the contrary, it is a time of great cognitive creativity and ambition, when the brain has pretty much reached its adult size and can focus on threading together its private intranet service -- on forging, organizing, amplifying and annotating the tens of billions of synaptic connections that allow brain cells and brain domains to communicate.
Samuel Abrams, a visiting scholar at Teachers College, Columbia University, and national expert on why schools in Finland are so successful, visited Anchorage and Bethel area schools last month, ate the lunches and sat in on classes.
Some things impressed him, and others illustrated problems that schools face across the U.S., he said.
Abrams was here to participate in a conference on how to improve Anchorage schools that was sponsored by Mayor Dan Sullivan.
Before and after the November conference, Abrams went to King Career Center and William Tyson Elementary in Anchorage for half-day each, and spent full days at Denali Montessori, Begich Middle and East High in Anchorage. He also observed classes at a school-within-a-school run by the Cook Inlet Tribal Council at Bartlett High.
I encountered Steve by sending him an email to ask a question about one of his papers. After a few rapid fire email exchanges I found myself on the phone with him for over an hour the very next day discussing topics as wide ranging as his interests. He's one of the first people I have met that I would definitely consider a polymath in that his expertise spans multiple disciplines (including my own). After our talk I sent him some questions. We covered everything from physics and Richard Feynman's supposedly "low" IQ to his latest research in intelligence. Finally, I asked him if he thought we would ever find another Einstein.
1. In a nutshell, tell me what your physics research is about.
I'm interested in the basic constituents of nature ("fundamental particles") and the rules that govern their interactions ("quantum field theory" or "quantum gravity"). My work involves things like quarks, black holes, the big bang, and quantum mechanics.
It would be easy to be shocked by The Daily Telegraph's revelations about exam boards - but the truth is that Britain's examination system has been heading for a crash for years. The culprit? The process that saw it transformed from a national treasure to a profit-driven industry. Today, examining is not an extension of teaching and learning, but a career in itself - one that has, on occasion, meant acting as little more than an arm of government.
The first mistake was to divorce the examination system from its end-users. In the past, academic exam boards were not only named after leading universities, but had a significant number of dons actually marking scripts. Today, the boards' management structures hardly have any connection with the universities. Control of the content and structure of the examination system needs to be placed firmly in the hands of universities - and, in the case of vocational training, of employers - so they can ensure that students possess the knowledge and skills their bosses or lecturers require, not what is cheapest, most convenient or most politically correct.
The phone call came late one afternoon last March. Rachel Krinsky -- then the executive director for the Road Home, a nonprofit agency serving homeless families in Dane County -- was preparing to meet with the board of directors, which had recently voted to end a three-year campaign to raise money to build apartments for homeless families.Burke announced recently that she plans to run for one of two Madison School Board seats on the April, 2012 ballot.
Having fallen $900,000 short of its fundraising goal, the board decided to build seven apartment units instead of the 15 it had sought, meaning eight families would remain on the street. "We had been fundraising for a long time and were out of ideas," Krinsky recalls. "Everyone was tapped out."
On the phone was Mary Burke, a wealthy 52-year-old philanthropist and former business executive, calling with unexpected news: She wanted to give the $450,000 needed to build those eight additional units. (The remaining $450,000 was an endowment goal.)
Krinsky's jaw dropped.
"I was just stunned," she says. "Mary wasn't even in our database."
The whole agonizing conflict over Madison Preparatory Academy did not end on Monday night, when the school board voted 5-2 against allowing the African American charter school to open next fall. Now comes the lawsuit.
But first, our community faces two immediate tasks: healing the wounds that were ripped open during the Madison Prep controversy, and getting something done about the urgent problem the charter school was developed to address -- Madison's disgraceful achievement gap for African American children.
Monday night's six hours of emotional testimony mostly highlighted the first of those two problems. In front of the packed auditorium at Memorial High School, Urban League president and Madison Prep founder Kaleem Caire read "What happens to a dream deferred?" to the school board. Nichelle Nichols, the Urban League's vice president of learning, read a poem that placed the blame for her own children's spoiled futures squarely on Madison Metropolitan School District officials: "My kids are in the gap, a chasm so dark.... I ask, Mr. Superintendent, what happened to my sons...?"
The sense that Madison has mistreated children of color was a powerful theme. White business leader and former teacher Jan O'Neil pointed out the "huge amount of capital in this room," all focused on solving the historic educational inequality for African American kids. A "no" vote, she warned the board, might be hopelessly polarizing.
The Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union opened negotiations earlier this month on a state-mandated requirement about what should-and should not-be included in teachers' performance evaluations.
CPS and the union have until March to grapple with the specific terms, such as what tests to use for measuring academic growth, how much the results should factor into the evaluations, and how to measure the performance of teachers whose subjects are not tested on state exams.
To add to the mix, an organized group of public school students, the Voices of Youth in Chicago Education (VOYCE), are preparing a formal request to CPS in the coming months to include student input in the new teacher evaluation system.
Some teachers want their students to weigh in on their performance.
ubliCola: What do you think of Attorney General Rob McKenna's education reform agenda? [McKenna, a Republican, is running for governor.]
Gregoire: What is it? You'll have to help me on that.
PubliCola: It seems more aggressive than the one you laid out. [Gregoire announced a reform proposal last week - AP report here - that will put a pilot project of 4-tiered teacher evaluations in play statewide]. It ties teacher evaluations to student test scores, calls for charter schools, and allows the state to step in and take over failing schools. It's in sync with President Obama's education reform agenda. The proposal you came out with last week seems like a "lite" version of that to education reformers [because the evaluations aren't tied explicitly to "student academic growth"].
Gregoire: I don't really think so. I think what it is is a Washington reform. The most recent studies on charter schools come out of Stanford. And there's no guarantee of anything there. As many as there are doing OK, there are an equal number that are not. ... Why would we go down a path where there's no big success to be had? And our voters have already turned [charters] down three times.
I developed this lab school idea, which serves two purposes: One, you have our four-year university schools partner up with one of our bottom five percent schools and really run the school and get them to transition out of their low performance. And two, you really do take your schools of education and improve them dramatically, because if they're going to train teachers, what better training for them than to be inside a classroom and see what works and what doesn't work?
PubliCola: What about tying test scores to teacher evaluations?
An increasingly cozy alliance between companies that manufacture processed foods and companies that serve the meals is making students -- a captive market -- fat and sick while pulling in hundreds of millions of dollars in profits. At a time of fiscal austerity, these companies are seducing school administrators with promises to cut costs through privatization. Parents who want healthier meals, meanwhile, are outgunned.
Each day, 32 million children in the United States get lunch at schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program, which uses agricultural surplus to feed children. About 21 million of these students eat free or reduced-price meals, a number that has surged since the recession. The program, which also provides breakfast, costs $13.3 billion a year.
There is little love for the SAT. How little, you ask? When a massive cheating scandal erupted this fall, fewer people rushed to defend the test than rose to defend Penn State officials for allegedly covering up the sexual abuse of children. But as unpopular as the iconic SAT may be - among students and many educational activists alike - it's actually pretty good at what it's designed to do, which is to serve as a common measure across the hodgepodge of academic standards, grading systems and norms being used by America's sprawling 25,000 high schools.
Unlike many of the tests that the education world loves to argue about, the SAT is an optional test; students choose to take it if they want to attend schools that require it for admission. So SAT angst is limited to the college-bound. (The test is administered by the New York-based nonprofit College Board, which is also in charge of high school Advanced Placement tests.) And although its only true fans are the intellectually insecure, the SAT, which used to be an acronym for Scholastic Aptitude Test, doesn't show how smart or savvy students are or how successful, happy, or impactful they're likely to be in life. But on average, it does fairly accurate gauge on how well students will do in their first year of college. That's something admissions officials want to know. And that's why good scores can boost an applicant's chances of getting in and low scores can torpedo them.
Every race has losers, and the Obama administration's Race to the Top education grant competition is proving to be no exception.
As nine states await their prize money after coming out on top late last week in the Education Department's Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge, the rest are left empty-handed, having spent thousands of hours carefully crafting plans that ultimately fell short.
"We invested a ton of time. That time equates to money," said Bobby Cagle, commissioner of Georgia's Department of Early Care and Learning.
Mr. Cagle estimated that he and his staff spent more than 2,000 hours on the effort, and said his agency is greatly disappointed by the result.
The data presented in this combined report―Rankings & Estimates―provide facts about the extent to which local, state, and national governments commit resources to public education. As one might expect in a nation as diverse as the United States--with respect to economics, geography, and politics--the level of commitment to education varies on a state-by-state basis. Regardless of these variations, improvements in public education can be measured by summary statistics. Thus, NEA Research offers this report to its state and local affiliates as well as to researchers, policymakers, and the public as a tool to examine public education programs and services.Wisconsin ranks 21st in average teacher salaries (page 35), 10th in property tax revenue as a percentage of total tax revenue (page 52), 16th in per capita state individual income tax revenue (page 53) and 15th in public school revenue per student.
Part I of this combined report--Rankings 2010--provides state-level data on an array of topics relevant to the com- plex enterprise of public education. Since the 1960s, Rankings has presented facts and figures useful in determining how states differ from one another--or from national averages--on selected statistics. In addition to identifying emerging trends in key economic, political, and social areas, the state-by-state figures on government financing, state demographics, and public schools permit a statistical assessment of the scope of public education. Of course, no set of tables tells the entire story of a state's education offerings. Consideration of factors such as a state's tax system, pro- visions for other public services, and population characteristics also are needed. Therefore, it is unwise to draw con- clusions based solely on individual statistics in this report. Readers are urged to supplement the ranked data with specific information about state and local service activities related to public education.
Part II of this combined report--Estimates 2011--is in its 67th year of production. This report provides projections of public school enrollment, employment and compensation of personnel, and finances, as reported by individual state departments of education. Not surprisingly, interest in the improvement and renewal of public education continues to capture the attention of the nation. The state-level data featured in Estimates permit broad assessments of trends in staff salaries, sources of school funding, and levels of educational expenditures. The data should be used with the un- derstanding that the reported statewide totals and averages may not reflect the varying conditions that exist among school districts and schools within the state.
Public education in the United States is a joint enterprise between local, state, and federal governments. Yet, progress in improving public education stems primarily from the efforts of state education agencies, local districts, and indi- vidual schools. These public organizations deserve credit for recognizing that spending for education needs to be ac- knowledged as an investment in our nation's most valuable resource--children. Similarly, this publication represents a collective effort that goes well beyond the staff of the National Education Association. Individual state departments of education and the NEA's state affiliates participate in collecting and assembling the data shown here. As a result, the NEA appreciates and acknowledges the cooperation it receives from all those whose efforts make this publication possible.
The American Federation of Teachers, vilified by critics as an obstacle to school reform, is leading an unusual effort to turn around a floundering school system in a place where deprivation is layered on heartache.
The AFT, which typically represents teachers in urban settings, wants to improve education deep in the heart of Appalachia by simultaneously tackling the social and economic troubles of McDowell County.
The union has gathered about 40 partners, including Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cisco Systems, IBM, Save the Children, foundations, utility companies, housing specialists, community colleges, and state and federal governments, which have committed to a five-year plan to try to lift McDowell out of its depths.
The McDowell Initiative, to be announced Friday, comes in the middle of a national debate about what causes failing schools in impoverished communities: the educators or the environment?
Growing up many of us played musical instruments in school but did you know that nearly half of the us population has never had any musical education. And with budget cutbacks it seems today's youth may suffer similar consequences unless parents take it upon themselves to bring music education home. Monica Snow with Primrose School stopped by the Saturday morning show to talk about how to do just that.
On Monday morning, the start of the school week, five teenagers rowed toward the breakwater leading into San Francisco Bay.
"It's so foggy you can't even see the Golden Gate Bridge," said Austin, a 17-year-old student at Downtown High School in Potrero Hill, as he worked the oars. When the students passed an old sailboat, their instructor, Jeff Rogers, told them it was built 120 years ago in Hunters Point.
"Hey," Austin said. "My 'hood."
If not for the boating expedition, Austin might have still been home, in bed, instead of in school. But on that day his classroom happened to be a sailboat. Before coming to Downtown, he was a chronic truant in the San Francisco school system, one of the thousands of students at risk of dropping out. Now he attends school about 80 percent of the time.
In June 2010, Wisconsin's Joint Committee on Finance approved YoungStar, a new quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) for the state's nearly 8,500 child care providers. YoungStar supporters believe the new system will improve the overall quality of childcare in Wisconsin by motivating and supporting providers to make quality improvements and by providing parents with the information they need to choose high-quality child care options.
In the Forum's latest Research Brief, we examine several issues and challenges that have arisen in other states or jurisdictions with QRIS policies, how those entities have tackled those challenges, and the lessons their experiences might yield for Wisconsin. We found five common implementation challenges that have confronted other states and that have the potential to occur in Wisconsin, as well.
Dannel Malloy, Governor of Connecticut: Letter to the Connecticut General Assembly.
A year after Luiz Munoz-Rivera School shut its doors as the public school system dealt with a budget shortfall, the district has opted to reopen it for nearly the same reason.
Rebranded as the Rivera Learning Community, the school has become the flagship for the district's efforts to invest in in-house special education programs rather than send students to expensive out-of-district institutions.
The rising cost of out-of-district placement for special education students has dogged the district for years and drawn heavy criticism from the state Department of Education.
AFRICAN-American students are lagging behind other students, including other black ethnic students whose home language is not English, according to new numbers released by Seattle Public Schools. ["'Alarming' new test-score gap discovered in Seattle schools," page one, Dec. 19.]
This is an important problem that other cities have confronted head-on. First, they have admitted they really don't know how to solve the problem. Second, they acknowledge that the normal remedies school districts use to solve achievement problems are too weak to work.
These admissions have led other cities to open themselves up to experimentation in schools serving the most disadvantaged: longer school days and years; no-excuses instructional models; new sources of teachers; partnerships with businesses and cultural institutions that can provide enrichment and role models; use of online instruction to teach subjects like science where school staff are often not qualified; new schools run by national institutions with track records of improving achievement for the most disadvantaged.
There is something truly disturbing about a society that seeks to control the behavior of schoolchildren through fear and violence, a tactic that harkens back to an era of paddle-bruised behinds and ruler-slapped wrists. Yet, some American school districts are pushing the boundaries of corporal punishment even further with the use of Tasers against unruly schoolchildren.
The deployment of Tasers against "problem" students coincides with the introduction of police officers on school campuses, also known as School Resource Officers (SROs). According to the Los Angeles Times, as of 2009, the number of SROs carrying Tasers was well over 4,000.
As far back as 1988, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, National Congress of Parents and Teachers, American Medical Association, National Education Association, American Bar Association, and American Academy of Pediatrics recognized that inflicting pain and fear upon disobedient children is far more harmful than helpful. Yet, we continue to do it with disturbing results, despite mountains of evidence of more effective methods of discipline.
Will Dobbie and Roland Fryer's new study of 35 New York City charter schools attempts to find a preliminary answer to the question of how different practices within charters are correlated with student progress on math and ELA tests. In general, this study's premise and methods represent a promising shift away from just looking at test scores to measure school quality; it acknowledges variations between charters and gets to the issue of what policies and practices are actually happening inside these schools.
The researchers looked at a wide variety of possible practices based on surveys of principals, interviews with teachers, visits to schools, and reviews of site visit reports from authorizers. The result was that they found five policies that were significantly correlated to increased test scores: "frequent teacher feedback, the use of data to guide instruction, high-dosage tutoring, increased instructional time, and high expectations." As Matt DiCarlo recently noted, the efficacy of some these factors in raising test scores -- particularly increased instructional time -- has also been supported in other studies.
Three more Kansas counties have enrolled to participate in a new program that aims to attract new residents to rural areas by offering to repay college tuition debts.
The Kansas Department of Commerce said that Chautauqua, Gove and Pawnee counties had joined the state's rural opportunity zone program aimed at slowing or reversing the rate of population decline in the counties. To date, 43 of 50 eligible counties are participating.
Counties participating in the program agree to partner with the state to offer student loan reimbursements of up to $3,000 a year for five years to new college graduates. The department said there were 158 applications from across the country for the program.
Professors are AWESOME!
The exercises are AWESOME!
The classes are AWESOME!
But then they send you the Statement of Accomplishment. This was obviously done by engineers with no knowledge of public relations, marketing or people feelings. And maybe under the pressure of Stanford (lawyers?) to clarify that this wasn't a Stanford class.
Before the course started they promised the Statement of Accomplishment as an incentive to get you in the course.
When they got a lot of users they said "You will receive a statement of accomplishment from the instructor, which will include information on how well you did and how your performance compared to other online students. Only students admitted to Stanford and enrolled in the regular course can receive credit or a grade, so this is not a Stanford certificate."
At the end they send you a pdf file that says something like this: hey you didn't complete any Stanford course, you were just part of an experiment and this is an automated message.
Pierre "Nic" Antoine, principal of two Catholic schools in Racine formed by school mergers, understands the pain families feel when their schools are closed.
But with the expansion of private-school vouchers to Racine, Antoine believes Catholic education has been reinvigorated this year. Enrollment is stable at Our Lady of Grace Academy, which added 30 voucher students this year, and up by about 20% at John Paul II Academy, which added 40 voucher students.
"We went from being 70% full in 2010-'11 to being 95% full this year," Antoine said of John Paul II Academy.
The boost in student enrollment is part of a larger trend in the Milwaukee Archdiocese this year - enrollment is up for the first time in 13 years, driven by voucher student enrollment that increased from 7,502 students last year to 8,831 students this year.
Nationwide and in Milwaukee, Catholic school enrollment has decreased over the years. After the recession caused families to tighten their budgets, some private schools' enrollment figures dropped even further, prompting mergers and closures.
Around 2,000 teachers, parents and children rallied outside the Legislative Council building in Tamar yesterday, urging the government to implement 15 years of free education starting from kindergarten.
The coalition of 17 groups - including the Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union and the Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers - also demanded a pay scale for kindergarten teachers that guarantees an annual salary rise, a better teacher- to-pupil ratio, and an improved Pre-primary Education Voucher Scheme.
Union chairman Fung Wai-wah said the public has already agreed on the 15 years of free education and it should be implemented immediately.
A Miami lawmaker wants public charter schools to be more transparent.
State. Sen Larcenia Bullard, D-Miami, filed a bill Wednesday that would require charter schools to post information about their management companies on their school websites.
Bullard, vice chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee, could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Her proposal was submitted days after The Miami Herald concluded a three-part series examining South Florida's $400 million-a-year charter school industry. The investigation found that charter schools have given rise to a cottage industry of for-profit management companies, some of which have almost total financial control over the charter schools they run.
Kansas City, Mo., schools are losing their accreditation on Jan. 1. Missouri law allows students from unaccredited districts to enroll for free in nearby school systems, so the suburban districts outside Kansas City are bracing for an influx of students.Much more on the Kansas City schools, here.
Jacob Rainey is inspiring people all across the sports world - and no more so than giants from the NFL.
The Virginia prep quarterback who had to have part of his right leg amputated has moved the likes of Alabama coach Nick Saban, Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews and Denver quarterback Tim Tebow.
A highlight film of Rainey on YouTube shows why college coaches had taken notice.
It shows the once-promising quarterback at Woodberry Forest School throwing a 40-yard dart for a touchdown, running into the line on a quarterback sneak, then emerging from the pile and sprinting 40 yards for a TD. There is also of clip of him running a draw for another 35-yard score.
All that was taken away, without warning when he was tackled during a scrimmage on September 3. He suffered a severe knee injury and a severed artery and part of his right leg had to be amputated.
Two of our overriding efforts in Lower Education in recent years have been: 1) raising the low math and reading scores of black and Hispanic students, and 2) increasing the number of our high school and college graduates capable of employment in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics [STEM}.
Very recently evidence has been allowed to surface pointing out that while students in the bottom 10% of academic performance have indeed improved, students in the top ten percent of academic performance have stagnated, where they have not dropped out from boredom. Related evidence now suggests that complacency with secondary public education in our more affluent suburbs may have been quite misplaced as well.
As Thomas Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum point out in their recent book, That Used To Be Us, "average is over." That is to say, students in other cities (Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai) and countries (Finland, South Korea, Japan) take their educations so much more seriously than our students (and teachers) do that their economies are achieving gains on our own that are truly startling, if we take the time to notice.
If we are to retain good jobs, restart our manufacturing, and otherwise decide to compete seriously with others who seem to take both education and work more seriously than we have come to do, it might be wise to increase the interest of our students in STEM fields. According to the Kaiser Foundation, our students aged 8-18 are spending, on average, more than seven hours a day with electronic entertainment media.
Now of course we want our young people to buy our electronic entertainment hardware and software and we definitely want them to have a good time and be happy, but probably we would like them to be employable some day as well. Friedman and Mandelbaum point out that not only blue collar jobs and white collar jobs, but increasingly sophisticated professional work can be done to a high standard at a much lower cost in other countries than it can be done here.
Having our students spend 53 hours a week on their electronic entertainment media, while their high school homework tops out, in many cases, according to ACT, at three to four hours a week, is not a plan that will enable us to resume our competitive position in the world's economies.
So perhaps we should assign students in high school 15 hours a week of homework (which would reduce their media time to a mere 38 hours a week) and pass on to them the information that if they don't start working to a much much higher academic standard they will probably face a more depressing future in a greatly diminished nation than they currently imagine they will have.
But, is STEM enough? I remember the story told about a visit Sir Alexander Fleming, who discovered penicillin, made to the gleaming new Salk Laboratory in La Jolla. A young biologist, thrilled to be a guide to the Nobel Prize-winner, was very proud to be able to show off all the bright new spotless expensive state-of-the-art research equipment. When they finished the tour, the young man could not stop himself from saying, "Just think, Sir Alexander, with all this equipment, what you could have discovered!" And Sir Alexander said, "not penicillin."
Because the discovery of penicillin relied on serendipity and curiosity. Fleming found some petri dishes contaminated by something that had come in, probably, through one of the dirty old badly-closed windows in his lab in England. Instead of washing the dishes so he could start over with them, as most scientists would have done, he asked himself what could have killed off those bacteria in the dishes. And a major breakthrough was made possible.
Just in passing, amid the rush for more STEM, I would like to put in a word for serendipity, which often fuels creativity of many kinds, by making possible the association of previously unrelated ideas and memories when in contact with a new fact or situation not deliberately sought out.
I argue that serendipity is more likely to occur and to be fruitful if our students also have a lot of experience with the ROOTS of civilization, that is, the history, literature, art, music, architecture and other fields which have provided the background and inspiration for so much that we find worthwhile in human life. Steve Jobs found his course in calligraphy useful when he came to think about Macintosh software, but there are countless examples of important discoveries and contributions that have been, at least in part, grounded in the ROOTS of civilized life. So let us push for more STEM, by all means, but if, in the process we neglect those ROOTS, our achievements will be fewer, and our lives will be the poorer as a result, IMHO.
The Concord Review
Louisiana education leaders have launched a five-year plan to reach the national average for high school students who earn college credit.
The courses, called Advanced Placement, can enhance college success and even make students more likely to attend college, officials said.
But only 4 percent of Louisiana students passed at least one AP exam in 2009, which is 49th in the nation and ahead of only Mississippi.
The national average is 16.9 percent, which state officials said is reachable by 2017.
The Los Angeles Unified School District, second biggest in the United States with some 700,000 students, located in the center of the most segregated area in the country for Latino students, is a place where students of color are very often denied any opportunity to do any meaningful preparation for college and are often attending dropout factory high schools. In this system, where mandatory desegregation was abandoned in 1981, there's one small place where's there some racial and economic diversity and special programs offered for students who choose to participate in them.
More than 170 magnet school programs exist in the Los Angeles Unified School District. They have been funded with billions of dollars of state money for desegregation assistance. The strong magnets are one of the last vestiges of middle class education that exist in the City of Los Angeles and one of the few places where students from really disadvantaged backgrounds can come to classes with students from more advantaged backgrounds, in schools where the teachers want to participate in those schools and where there's a special curriculum offered to draw them there. Not all of these schools are great schools. Some of them are phony magnets, and some of them are wonderful schools. But they are a really important option for the City of Los Angeles. When a student can transfer from a dropout factory school to one where many students go to college, a bus is a great educational investment.
Only about one of every four U.S. classrooms has an "excellent teacher," one who produces enough learning progress to close achievement gaps and help all students leap ahead to higher-order learning. Three-quarters do not.
The school models presented here aim to change that. These models use job redesign, technology, or both to help excellent teachers reach more students. Done right, all the models presented here can meet our Reach Extension Principles. Most models can be used for whole schools or single courses.
Here's a quick overview: Our primary goal is to enable schools to reach significantly more students with excellent teachers. Every model outlined here identifies the excellent teacher in charge--the person who is truly accountable for learning. In more detailed models coming in 2012, we also indicate what people, technology, and other resources the excellent teacher has authority to choose and change. We organized the models around two key dimensions:
Health care spending in Wisconsin averaged $7,233 for each person - or almost $29,000 for a family of four - in 2009, according to a report released last week.
The amount was 6% higher than the national average of $6,815.
Wisconsin, which spent an estimated $40.9 billion on health care in 2009, ranked 35th in the country in per-capita spending, according to the report by researchers at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Thirty-four states spent less.
The study shows the wide variation in health care spending from state to state. The variation stems largely from demographics, such as the average age of the population, and the percent of the population with health insurance.
States with higher incomes and higher cost of living also tended to spend more on health care.
Utah, with a young population and healthy lifestyle, spent an average of $5,031 per person on health care, or 26% less than the national average. In contrast, Massachusetts, with higher incomes and nearly universal insurance coverage, spent an average of $9,278, or 36% more than the national average.
That's the question state Education Commissioner Deborah Gist asked the General Assembly this past June. It's also the one she posed to a hundred people at Westerly Middle School Thursday night, appearing at a community forum on the state of education in Rhode Island.
"We want each of us to be asking each other 'How's school?' We're asking our teachers.... are they getting the support they need, are things moving forward for them?" Gist said. "We also want you to hold us accountable for all of the things we promised to you, that we would do, so that your school gets the support it needs."
Gist has visited more than 100 schools in her two years as commissioner and said she considers input from students, teachers and administrators as a critical link in improving education.
In her opening remarks she commented on some significant achievements. New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) results for Rhode Island high schools increased last year. Math results were up 6 percentage points, science 5 points and reading 3 points.
Here's how five people answered this week's question posed by Capital Times freelancer Kevin Murphy. What do you think? Please join the discussion.
"I don't agree with that decision. We need something to close that achievement gap and this was something that could have closed that gap and they won't even take a chance with it. It's the best idea to come forward so far and it should have been tried."
retired school district employee
"It was a good idea and I think anything new in the way of education needs to be tried. Give it a try. It was a pretty proposal with non-coed instruction, uniforms for students, minority staff. It certainly is worth a try given the track record the school district has had with minority students so far."
For most people, the word "algebra" conjures classroom memories of Xs and Ys. Weekend Edition's math guy, Keith Devlin, says that's because most schools do a terrible job of teaching it. He talks with host Scott Simon about what algebra really is. Plus, Devlin explains how algebra took off in Baghdad, the Silicon Valley of the ninth century.
I can't shake the feeling that something important was going on at our School Board meeting last Monday night to consider the Madison Prep charter school proposal, and that the actual School Board vote wasn't it.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
The bare-bone facts are that, after about 90 public speakers, the Board voted 2-5 to reject the Madison Prep proposal. I reluctantly voted against the motion because I was unwilling to violate the terms of our collective bargaining agreement with our teachers.
After the motion failed, I moved that the Board approve Madison Prep, but delay its opening until the fall of 2013. My motion failed for lack of a second. (And no, I don't have an explanation for why neither James Howard nor Lucy Mathiak, who voted in favor of the first motion, was willing to second my motion.)
Probably like most who attended Monday night's meeting, I have thought a lot about it since. People who know I voted against the proposal have come up to me and congratulated me for what they say was the right decision. I have felt like shaking them and saying, "No, you don't understand. We blew it Monday night, we blew it big time. I just hope that we only crippled Madison Prep and didn't kill it."
I appreciate that that's an odd and surprising place for me to have ended up. To echo the Talking Heads, "Well, how did I get here?" I'll try to explain.
Despite efforts by school administration to streamline its special education services, an unforeseen 59 students joined special ed this year, causing the district to face a deficit for the third year running.
Superintendent Dr. Stephen Falcone told the Board of Education that he's expecting a $251,866 shortfall, primarily due to out of district tuition increases of more than $550,000, and another year of reduced state funding. Darien also lost $225,000 in stimulus money after receiving it for the past two years.
To close some of this gap, Falcone advised a number of saving measures to get the schools back on track. [see related story]
The Courier-Post is all over Camden Public Schools' failure to accurately report incidents of violence and vandalism. (See earlier story here.) Each year, per state mandate, districts file reports with the State DOE listing rates of violence and then the State reports out to the Legislature. While there has been a 6.4% increase in violent incidents (some of this, no doubt, attributable to the new Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying legislation), Camden Public Schools appears to be a land of milk and honey: there were only 29 incidents all of last year and only 35 for 2010-2011.
Among other districts in the area "almost 30 districts reported more violent incidents than Camden - including Audobon, Cherry Hill, Cinnaminson, and Washington Township."
In a bold move that is generating controversy within its own ranks, the California Charter School Association is urging that 10 of the 145 charter schools up for renewal this year be denied their charters because they failed to meet academic performance benchmarks set by the association.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan hailed the association for its "courageous leadership" in attempting to "hold schools accountable." "This is an important conversation for California to have, and one that we need to have across the country," Duncan said, echoing remarks made by several charter school leaders.
But the association's action has also provoked fierce criticism from schools it has recommended for closure, as well as from some long-time supporters of the charter movement.
A new round of the popular education board game, Poverty Matters, began last week with a New York Times op-ed by Helen Ladd and Edward Fiske, titled, "Class Matters: Why Won't We Admit It?" (Interestingly, the essay is really about poverty, not class, and the paper that Ladd wrote on which the essay is based is titled Education and Poverty: Confronting the Evidence. See also Kathleen Porter-Magee's The `Poverty Matters' Trap from last July's Flypaper.)
Ladd and Fiske's essay was one of those broadsides that spreads through the teacher ranks like a brush fire. I received my email copy from one of our district's veteran teachers, a hard-working, dedicated woman who rarely misses an opportunity to remind me that she and her colleagues would be doing a fine job were it not for unmotivated kids and their irresponsible parents. And Diane Ravitch weighed in, calling to mind, in tune with the season, the story of Scrooge and Tiny Tim, offering to "update this tale for today's school reformers" by calling attention to Ladd and Fiske's op-ed. (Ravitch says she uses Ladd'sEducation and Poverty paper in her post.)
What I don't understand in all of this is who exactly is claiming that class (or poverty or parents or kids) doesn't matter? Ladd and Fiske spend most of their essay stating the obvious: that socio-economic circumstance matters to education outcomes. The evidence that our policymakers and reformers are in denial of this salient fact?
Robert DeCock, via email:
Parents work very hard to get their children into college, and when that work pays off, they breathe a sigh of relief. After enduring mountains of paperwork, ruthless deadlines and constant second-guessing, the elusive acceptance letter suddenly makes it all worthwhile.Robert recently contacted me via the Madison Chamber of Commerce. I've met him once and found the conversation interesting. Contact him if you'd like to attend a Pre-College workshop or have questions.
But then come the really hard questions. How are we going to pay for this? What if, after all this work, my kid doesn't do well in school? What if he doesn't graduate? What if he can't get a decent job?
The key to college success is asking all of those questions much earlier. And that means starting the planning process itself much earlier.
How early? Think middle school. Seriously.
Starting early achieves a number of significant things:
As parents, you take control of the admissions and financial aid processes, rather than those processes taking control of you.
Your child develops an early sense of purpose as it relates to college - what areas of study interest him, what colleges fit his interests and his personality, and what careers might await
You turn the tables in the admissions process. Instead of hoping that a college says "yes" to your child, the college ends up hoping that your child will say "yes" to them
That last point is important. Colleges are in search of special students - those who stand the greatest chance of success during school and after graduation. Establishing early relationships with potential colleges can put your family in the position of "seller" instead of "buyer," giving you financial leverage and negotiating power. And when that happens, aid packages can go up dramatically - sometimes by $2,000...$5,000...even $10,000 per year.
For parents, an early start in college planning often results in significant tuition savings. For students, starting early greatly improves the chances of success during the college years and the post-graduation job market.
For both of you, there's an added benefit - less stress and a more enjoyable, rewarding experience.
Robert DeCock is a Certified College Planning Specialist (CCPS) with the National Institute of Certified College Planning Specialists. DeCock runs the Quest Pre-College Planning and Financial Aid Workshops, which provide hands-on, step-by-step, proven best practices for parents who want to minimize costs and maximize their child's opportunity for success. Visit www.qcollegeprogram.com or call 608.438.2941 for more information.
Robert is holding a Pre-College Workshop is on Thursday, January 12, 5-8:00. Contact him for details.
As concerns mount over the costs and benefits of higher education, it may be worthwhile to glance at the benefits of high school education at present as well. Of course, high school costs, while high, are borne by the taxpayers in general, but it is reasonable to hope that there are sufficient benefits for such an outlay.
In fact, 30 percent of ninth-grade students do not graduate with their class, so there is a major loss right there. In addition, it appears that a large fraction of our high school graduates who go on to college leave without taking any credential or degree within eight years. On November 17, 2008, the Boston Globe reported, "About two-thirds of the city's high school graduates in 2000 who enrolled in college have failed to earn degrees, according to a first-of- its-kind study being released today."1 The fact that this is a new study shows that the days of taking not just college, but high school education for granted may be ending as well. If public high schools were preparing their graduates (the 70 percent) adequately, they should be able to read and write in college.
Alternatives to high school are coming only slowly. Charter schools, some good and some bad, are being tried. Homeschooling serves some 1.5 million students, and some edupundits (and computer salesmen) are pushing for ever more use of virtual distance learning at the high school level.
At Dugsi Academy, a public school in St. Paul, Minnesota, girls wearing traditional Muslim headscarves and flowing ankle-length skirts study Arabic and Somali. The charter school educates "East African children in the Twin Cities," its website says. Every student is black.
At Twin Cities German Immersion School, another St. Paul charter, children gather under a map of "Deutschland," study with interns from Germany, Austria and Switzerland and learn to dance the waltz. Ninety percent of its students are white.
Six decades after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down "separate but equal" schools for blacks and whites, segregation is growing because of charter schools, privately run public schools that educate 1.8 million U.S. children. While charter-school leaders say programs targeting ethnic groups enrich education, they are isolating low-achievers and damaging diversity, said Myron Orfield, a lawyer and demographer.
Iowa's school population is shrinking at the same time it becomes poorer and more racially and ethnically diverse, according to an Iowa Department of Education report released Wednesday.
The Annual Condition of Education report compiles a variety of statistics from the previous school year.
Wednesday's 209-page report shows the continuation on several trends in Iowa's school systems across the state.
"It's useful in many ways," said Jay Pennington, the department's bureau chief of information and analysis services. "It provides local districts with a way to compare themselves with others in the state and provides the public with a lot of information about their district and others."
Highlights of the report include:
The most straightforward, clear and dispassionate vote taken on the Madison Preparatory Academy charter school proposal at last Monday's Madison Metropolitan School District Board meeting didn't even count. It was the advisory vote cast by the student representative, Philippo Bulgarelli.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
The School Board turned down the controversial proposal on a 5-2 vote, and after nearly five hours of public testimony, all the school board members gave speeches explaining how they arrived at their decisions. In addition to being the most succinct, Bulgarelli's statement penetrated all of the intense emotions and wildly divergent interpretations of data and personal anecdotes used to argue both for and against the proposal. Bulgarelli said that the students for whom he speaks did not have enough information to make a reasonably good decision, so he voted to abstain.
A headline-generating study, published in the journal Pediatrics this week, suggests that approximately one in three Americans is arrested before age 23. That's up from about one in five in 1965, the last time a similar study was conducted. The study used data from surveys given to the 7,335 people who enrolled in the federal government's National Longitudinal Survey of Youth in 1996.
This study, a recent joint initiative between the Departments of Justice and Education and a spate of anecdotal stories in the news all suggest a surge in the arrests of minors, and particularly in arrests that originate in schools. But the federal government is both fighting the "school-to-prison" pipeline while continuing to fund the same programs that critics say are causing it. Moreover, because the government hasn't been collecting data on school-based arrests, and the little available data shows overall arrests of juveniles are down, it's difficult to determine if a problem exists, much less whether federal initiatives are solving it -- or contributing to it.
Students in Democracy Prep High School's Korean classes typically learn words that boost their vocabulary and develop basic grammar -- standard fare for introductory foreign language instruction. But this week the lessons took a turn for the geopolitical.
Youngjae Hur greeted his students yesterday with an unusual pop quiz in English and asked them to define words such as "despotism," "denuclearize," and "repressive."
For Hur, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il's abrupt death over the weekend offered the school a unique opportunity to infuse what students learn about the South Korean language and culture every day with the politics that have shaped life on the Korean Peninsula for decades.
"It's important to let them know not just the skills to understand the language, but also the culture, the history, the politics," said Hur, a first-year teacher who moved to the United States from South Korea three years ago. "Especially at this special moment."
Rick Hanushek interviews Terry Moe about his new book, Special Interest, which is the definitive, new work on teacher unions and education.
Changes to policies and procedures over the handling of funds will ensure that nothing like the theft of more than $300,000 from Fort High should occur again, the Rainy River District School Board said following the sentencing last Thursday of former FFHS secretary Fawn Lindberg.
"Obviously, there were some shortcomings in terms of oversight, both at the school and right through the board office--and those things hopefully have now all been corrected," noted board chair Michael Lewis.
A press release issued by the board called the theft a "systemic failure from the top down."
While Lindberg didn't have the authority to authorize or sign cheques, it was noted during last Thursday's court proceedings that a practice had developed whereby blank cheques would be signed in advance by the principal and vice-principal, who did have signing authority.
From June, 2005 to October, 2007, Lindberg fed a gambling addiction by stealing $312,426.45, using some 146 cheques she had made out in her name or to "cash."
The theft came to light in the fall of 2007 after a deficit of more than $175,000 was noticed by board administration and investigated.
The gap in grade point averages between male and female students widens when their college football team is winning.
As the college football season approaches its climax, a just-released set of statistics should give fans of Bowl-bound teams pause.
According to three University of Oregon economists, when a university's football team has a winning season, the grade point average of male students goes down.
At least, that was the case at their own school over the course of nine recent seasons. Given that the University of Oregon is "largely representative of other four-year public institutions," they have no reason to believe the equation won't apply elsewhere.
Improving the academic performance of at-risk high school students has proven difficult, often calling for an extended day, extended school year, and other expensive measures. Here we report the results of a program for at-risk 9th and 10th graders in Binghamton, New York, called the Regents Academy that takes place during the normal school day and year. The design of the program is informed by the evolutionary dynamics of cooperation and learning, in general and for our species as a unique product of biocultural evolution. Not only did the Regents Academy students outperform their comparison group in a randomized control design, but they performed on a par with the average high school student in Binghamton on state-mandated exams. All students can benefit from the social environment provided for at-risk students at the Regents Academy, which is within the reach of most public school districts.
One body of knowledge that we drew upon to design the Regents Academy is based on the work of Elinor Ostrom , , who received the Nobel Prize for economics in 2009. Ostrom is a political scientist by training but has become part of the evolutionary science community. Working primarily with groups attempting to manage common pool resources, she identified eight design features that contributed to the success of each group, which can also be used by groups attempting to achieve other shared objectives. Briefly, the design features are: 1) a strong group identity, including understanding and agreeing with the group's purpose; 2) benefits proportional to costs, so that the work does not fall unfairly on some individuals and unearned benefits on others; 3) consensus decision-making, since most people dislike being told what to do but will work hard to achieve their own goals; 4) low-cost monitoring, so that lapses of cooperation can be easily detected; 5) graduated sanctions to correct misbehaviors, which begin with friendly reminders and escalate only as needed; 6) conflict resolution that is fast and perceived as fair by group members; 7) sufficient autonomy for the group to make its own decisions without interference from other groups; 8) relations among groups that embody the same principles as the relations among individuals within the group. These design features are consilient with the general evolutionary dynamics of cooperation and the social environment of small-scale human societies throughout our own history as a species. Any educational program, including one for at-risk high school students, can potentially benefit from implementing these design features.
A second body of knowledge that we drew upon concerns development and psychological functioning, e.g., in benign vs. harsh environments -. The dysfunctions that arise from harsh environments are often interpreted as breakdowns of normal development and psychological functioning. While this is sometimes the case, evolutionary science offers an alternative possibility. Humans, like all species, are adapted to cope with harsh environments, but these adaptations involve tradeoffs with respect to long-term individual welfare and conduct toward others. Learning and cooperation to achieve long-term goals are eclipsed by the need to survive and reproduce over the short term. Some adaptations to harsh environments operate early in life and are difficult to reverse, such as the insecure attachment styles first documented by pioneering evolutionary psychologist John Bowlby , which has led to an extensive body of recent research . Other mechanisms operate in response to immediate circumstances and can be modified by providing a safer and more secure environment , . Most at-risk adolescents have experienced hardship throughout their lives, making it difficult for them to adapt to a safe and secure environment. Moreover, even if such an environment can be provided at school, the rest of their lives often remain harsh. Providing a safe and secure school environment might therefore not be sufficient, but it is surely necessary for at-risk students to cooperate and to achieve long-term goals.
A third body of knowledge that we drew upon concerns basic principles of learning that apply to many species , along with more specific adaptations for learning and cultural transmission in human groups , -. In a longitudinal study of students who were identified as gifted at the beginning of high school, Csikszentmihalyi et al.  examined the factors that led some to fulfill their promise and others to become merely average by the end of high school. It was primarily those who enjoyed what they were doing over the short term that developed their talents. The prospect of a long-term benefit, such as a career in science, was not sufficient to sustain day-to-day activities that were unrewarding. If this is true for the most gifted students, then it applies with even greater force for the most at-risk students . If cooperation and learning outcomes aren't rewarding over the short term (what B.F. Skinner called "selection by consequences" ), positive outcomes cannot be expected over the long term. In addition, human groups evolved adaptations for social learning and spreading information for thousands of years before the advent of any formal school program. In modern times, complex bodies of information are culturally transmitted in hunter gatherer and many traditional societies largely without formal instruction . Knowing how this occurs can help teachers shape their curriculum, instruction, and assessment to better maximize their students' natural tendencies to learn, and to make learning and teaching more spontaneous and self-organizing in modern classroom environments , .
The school would have offered a longer school day and year, higher standards and expectations, uniforms, mandatory extracurricular activities, same-sex classrooms, more minority teachers as role models, and stepped-up pressure on parents to get involved in their children's education.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Madison Prep represented a huge opportunity -- with unprecedented community support, including millions in private donations -- to attack the stubborn achievement gap for low-income and minority students.
But a majority of the School Board rejected Madison Prep, citing excuses that include a disputed clause in its teachers union contract and a supposed lack of accountability.
Wracked with frustration over the state's legions of unprepared high school graduates, the California State University system next summer will force freshmen with remedial needs to brush up on math or English before arriving on campus.Related: Madison's Math Task Force and K-12 Literacy Program Evaluation.
But many professors at the 23-campus university, which has spent the past 13 years dismissing students who fail remedial classes, doubt the Early Start program will do much to help students unable to handle college math or English.
"I'm not at all optimistic that it's going to help," said Sally Murphy, a communications professor who directs general education at Cal State East Bay, where 73 percent of this year's freshmen were not ready for college math. Nearly 60 percent were not prepared for college English.
"A 15-hour intervention is just not enough intervention when it comes to skills that should have been developed over 12 years," Murphy said.
The remedial numbers are staggering, given that the Cal State system admits only freshmen who graduated in the top one-third of their high-school class. About 27,300 freshmen in the 2010 entering class of about 42,700 needed remedial work in math, English or both.
Madison Urban League President Kaleem Caire fought hard to win approval of his Madison Prep project. But the Madison School Board ultimately rejected a plan that would have steered tens of millions of taxpayer dollars into a project that board members felt lacked sufficient oversight and accountability.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
The response of Caire and his fellow Madison Prep advocates was to suggest a variety of moves: the filing of a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice, or perhaps a request for state intervention to allow the project to go forward without state approval.
We would suggest another approach.
Caire has succeeded in garnering a good deal of support for Madison Prep. He could capitalize on that support and make a run for the School Board.
Changing the school board would either require: patience (just two of seven seats: Lucy Mathiak, who is not running after two terms and Arlene Silveira, who apparently is seeking a third term) are up in April, 2012 or a more radical approach via the current Wisconsin method (and Oakland): recalls. Winning the two seats may not be sufficient to change the Board, given the 5-2 no vote. Perhaps the "momentum", if realized, might sway a vote or two?
Perhaps the TAG complaint illustrates another approach, via the courts and/or different government agencies.
Kaleem Caire, via email
For Immediate Release: December 21, 2011Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Contact: Laura DeRoche-Perez
Director of School Development
Urban League of Greater Madison
2222 S. Park St., Suite 200
Madison, WI 53713
Madison, WI - This morning, the Board of Directors of Madison Preparatory Academy unanimously decided to pursue a set of actions that will assist with eliminating the racial achievement gap in the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD). These actions are consistent with the objectives of the Urban League of Greater Madison.
Specifically, Madison Prep's Board has committed to partnering with the Urban League of Greater Madison to:
Work with the Madison Metropolitan School District to ensure MMSD has a bold and effective plan for eliminating the racial achievement gap that embraces innovation, best practices and community engagement as core strategies.
Evaluate legal options that will ensure MMSD affirmatively and immediately addresses the racial achievement gap.
Establish Madison Preparatory Academy as an independent school within the boundaries of the Madison Metropolitan School District in August 2012 as a model of whole school reform and a necessary education option for disadvantaged children and families.
David Cagigal, Chair of Madison Prep's Board, shared that "Madison Prep is a necessary strategy to show how our community can eliminate the achievement gap and prepare our most vulnerable students for college. MMSD's rejection of our proposal does not change this fact."
Cagigal further stated that, "We look forward to engaging the Greater Madison community in addressing the racial achievement gap in Madison's public schools and supporting the establishment of Madison Prep next fall."
For more information, contact Laura DeRoche Perez, Director of School Development, Urban League of Greater Madison, at Lderoche@ulgm.org or 608-729-1230.
This email was sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by email@example.com |
Urban League of Greater Madison | 2222 S. Park Street | Suite 200 | Madison | WI | 53713
I am ambivalent. My state, Tennessee, is the first state that has implemented the annual teacher and principal evaluations as required by Race to the Top (RTT). In 2010, I was involved with writing Tennessee's successful RTT application, especially the section on "great teachers and leaders." In my state role, I celebrated the RTT requirement for annual teacher and principal evaluations based substantially on student growth as one of the most important levers to accelerate student achievement.
Now, in 2011, I am at the local level watching the fall-out. Although I still support annual teacher evaluations that include student achievement growth and regular teacher observation scores, it is clear that the initiative is off to a rocky start. And this has implications for more than just the educators and students in Tennessee. As noted in Education Week, many policymakers are concerned that the rocky implementation of Tennessee's new teacher evaluation system may hinder efforts in other states.
Supporters of a controversial charter school proposal geared toward low-income, minority students said Tuesday they will continue to fight to establish it next fall -- including possibly as a private school.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Their comments came Tuesday after the Madison School Board voted 5-2 early that day to reject a proposal for Madison Preparatory Academy, which would offer single-sex classrooms and a college preparatory curriculum.
The board didn't vote on an alternate proposal to approve the school but delay its opening until 2013.
David Cagigal, president of the Madison Prep board, said a private school would be expensive because the school's target low-income population wouldn't be able to afford tuition. Instead, the board would ask private donors to replace the roughly $9,300 per pupil it had sought from the School District.
"Maybe money is not the issue if we want to go ahead and prove our point," Cagigal said. "I can assure you we will persist with this idea of closing the achievement gap."
The proposed Madison Prep Charter School was voted down by the Madison school board on Monday. A bold proposal to address the achievement gap in Madison, Madison Prep supporters have a very good point- the status quo is not working for minority students.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
There wasn't any magic to the Madison Prep proposal: longer school year, extended school days, smaller class ratios, additional support services, we know these things work, and taken together these things would likely make a significant impact on student achievement. But all these things cost significant amounts of money which is ultimately the problem. What distribution of resources is the most effective and fair?
Sometimes it's possible to be absolutely right on the specifics of a thing and totally wrong about the big picture.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.a
That's what can be said about the Madison school board's decision the other night to reject the proposal for the Madison Preparatory Academy. Board members were correct to be concerned that their support for the academy could have violated their contract with the Madison teachers union, and they were right to be concerned about lack of oversight over public funds.
But what the Urban League was saying about the big picture remains paramount:
Some readers mentioned, after a recent Admissions 101 discussion of using the average SAT score of the incoming class to pick the school best for you, that this method might be ruined by the growing number of colleges that do not require SAT or ACT tests. Some even suggested that these test-optional colleges might look better than they are on some measures, like the ranked U.S. News college list, because the lowest scorers in their freshmen classes are the ones most likely not to reveal their scores, and thus by not revealing, raising the freshman class SAT or ACT average that forms part of the U.S. News formula.
Last week I wrote that it seemed hypocritical that average Madisonians and other liberals in city government and the left-leaning Madison press haven't been beating the drum for proposed charter school Madison Preparatory Academy.
The school's target clientele, after all, is one the left usually considers sympathetic: poor, disenfranchised minority youth historically denied access to educational opportunity.
But it took a reader to point out an even bigger elephant in this oddly somnolent room: UW-Madison.
It was only a few months ago that Madison's prime educational attraction and the jewel of the UW System mounted a vigorous and very public defense of attempts to create a more diverse student body through its affirmative action policies.
You'd think this powerful institution might also be showing a little love for a similar social justice cause in its own backyard.
The donor whose $350 million gift will be critical in building Cornell University's new high-tech graduate school on Roosevelt Island is Atlantic Philanthropies, whose founder, Charles F. Feeney, is a Cornell alumnus who made billions of dollars through the Duty Free Shoppers Group.
Mr. Feeney, 80, has spent much of the last three decades giving away his fortune, with large gifts to universities all over the world and an unusual degree of anonymity. Cornell officials revealed in 2007 that he had given some $600 million to the university over the years, yet nothing on its Ithaca campus -- where he graduated from the School of Hotel Management in 1956 -- bears Mr. Feeney's name.
The $350 million gift, the largest in the university's history, was announced on Friday, but the donor was not named. Officials at Atlantic Philanthropies confirmed on Monday evening that it was Mr. Feeney, a native of Elizabeth, N.J., who is known for his frugality -- he flies coach, owns neither a home nor a car, and wears a $15 watch -- as well as his philanthropic generosity, particularly to medical research.
Kaleem Caire, via email:
Dear Madison Prep,Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
First, thank you to all of you who have supported the Madison Prep effort to this point. Your volunteer hours, work on Design Teams, attendance at meetings, letters to the district and media, and many other acts of support have not gone unnoticed by the Urban League and Madison Prep.
In earlier morning hours today, the MMSD Board of Education voted 5-2 AGAINST Madison Prep. This outcome came after hours of testimony by members of the public, with Madison Prep supporters outnumbering opponents 2:1. Lucy Mathiak and James Howard voted YES for Madison Prep; Ed Hughes, Arlene Silviera, Beth Moss, Maya Cole, and Marj Passman voted NO. After the vote was taken, Ed Hughes made an amendment to the motion to establish Madison Prep in 2013 (rather than 2012) in order to avoid what some see as a conflict between Madison Prep and the teachers' union contract. Mr. Hughes' motion was not seconded; therefore there was no vote on establishing Madison Prep one year later.
While the Urban League and Madison Prep are shocked by last night's outcome, both organizations are committed to ensuring that Madison Prep becomes a reality for children in Madison. We will continue to press for change and innovation in the Madison Metropolitan School District and Dane County to ensure that the racial achievement gap is eliminated and that all children receive a high quality education that adequately prepares them for their future.
We will advance a number of next steps:
1.We will pursue different avenues, both public and private, to launch Madison Prep. We are still hopeful for an opening in 2012. There will be much the community will learn from Madison Prep and our children need this option now.
2.We will continue to coordinate community support and action to ensure that the Madison Metropolitan School District is accountable for eliminating the racial achievement gap. We will consider several strategies, such as implementing a Citizen Review Board that will hold the school board and district administration accountable for good governance, planning, implementation, execution, community engagement and student achievement results. We will also consider legal avenues to ensure MMSD understands and responds to the community's sense of urgency to address the sizable and decades-long failure rates of Black and Latino children.
3.We must also address the leadership vacuum in K-12 education in Madison. Because of this, we will ensure that parents, students and community members are informed of their rights and responsibilities, and have a better understanding of promising educational strategies to close the achievement gap. We will also work to ensure that they have opportunities to be fully engaged in planning, working and deciding what's best for the children educated in our public schools.
4.We will continue to work in collaboration with MMSD through our existing partnerships, and hope to grow these partnerships in the future.
Thank you for everything you have done and continue to do to ensure that children in our schools and families in our community have hope, inspiration, support and opportunity to manifest their dreams and make a difference in their own lives and the lives of others.
As expected, the Madison Metropolitan School Board voted 5 -2 last night against authorizing the Madison Prep charter school. Only two board members overseeing a school district with an African-American graduation rate below 50% saw fit to support a new approachMuch more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Those voting against the school did offer reasons. Board member Beth Moss told the Wisconsin State Journal she voted no because of concerns about the school's ability to serve students needing more than one year of remedial education. Board member Ed Hughes said he could not support the school until after the Madison teachers union contract expires in 2013.
But no worries, Superintendent Dan Nerad told the Wisconsin State Journal he has a plan:
There's nothing like standing in the schoolhouse door.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
For me, the Madison School Board's 5-2 vote to shoot down Madison Preparatory Academy, a proposed charter school specifically designed for low-income minority students, brings to mind images of George Wallace standing in the schoolhouse door to block the integration of the University of Alabama, or state officials blocking James Meredith's enrollment at the University of Mississippi.
If you think that's harsh, remember that those pieces of history were not only about Civil Rights and desegregation, they were about every person's right to pursue a quality education.
In the Madison Metropolitan School District, a 48% graduation rate among African American students indicates that quality has not been achieved. Not even close.
Fortunately, this is one dream that's not going to be allowed to die. Kaleem Caire, president of the Urban League of Greater Madison, is the driving force behind Madison Prep, and he isn't ready to wave the surrender flag.
Following the school board vote, Caire vowed to file a racial discrimination lawsuit with the U.S. Department of Justice, and he also urged supporters of Madison Prep to run for school board.
Love it, love it, love it.
At one point in the development of Madison Prep, Caire sounded optimistic that the school district was a real partner, but the majority of board members had other ideas. Caire and the Urban League did their best to address every objection critics put in their way, and now it's clear that the intent all along was to scuttle the project with a gauntlet of hurdles.
Kai Ryssdal: For those who haven't been in a modern public school classroom lately, there have been some changes since the days you had to whack the erasers together after class to clean them out. Chalkboards have been replaced not just by whiteboards, but by high-tech "smart" boards. Students are using laptops and iPads all over the place. In all, public schools spend roughly $3 billion a year on education technology -- things meant to make teaching faster, easier and better.
Change can be hard, but companies are trying to ease the transition. From the Marketplace Education Desk at WYPR, Amy Scott reports.
Q. What were some early management challenges for you?
A. At a school in Massachusetts where I once worked, we managed early on through consensus. Which sounds wonderful, but it was just a very, very difficult way to sort of manage anything, because convincing everybody to do one particular thing, especially if it was hard, was almost impossible.
Q. How big a group was this?
A. There were about 25 teachers and instructors and others. And very quickly I went from being this wonderful person, "Geoff is just so nice, he's just such a great guy," to: "I cannot stand that guy. He just thinks he's in charge and he wants to do things his way." And it was a real eye-opener for me because I was trying to change something that everybody was comfortable with. I don't think we were doing a great job with the kids, and I thought we could perform at a higher level.
Educators from across the state made a last-ditch effort Thursday to sway the state Education Board toward adopting their favorite of three teacher evaluation systems that next year will be used to evaluate every teacher in Oklahoma.
In the end, the board decided not to decide.
After an almost equal amount of support was expressed for two of the three systems, the board voted to adopt all three models for a one-year pilot.
School districts will be able to select any of the three models and will receive a portion of approximately $1.5 million in funding for the evaluation system based on student enrollment numbers.
"When I hear the dialogue back and forth about the strengths and weaknesses of these systems, I wonder if it's really about the strengths and weaknesses of these systems or if it's about who gets the money to further develop their model," said state Education Board Member Lee Baxter, of Lawton. "I'd like to find a way to not make this decision. I'd like to find a way to go through the pilot program and allow the districts to be involved with the evaluation system that they want to over a year's period of time."
Proponents of the Madison Preparatory Academy said they're looking to take legal action against the Madison Metropolitan School District after the school board voted against the proposed charter school.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
The Madison Board of Education put an end to the Madison Prep proposal with a 5-2 vote early Tuesday morning, and reaction was swift.
"Because (the school board members) don't take us seriously -- they will sit right up here and look in our face and not even know they're insulting us with the things that they say," said Kaleem Caire, president of the Urban League Of Greater Madison President, shortly after the vote. "We are going to turn our attention immediately, immediately, to address this legally."
In the last decade, we have emerged from the Education Stone Age. No longer must we rely on primitive tools like teachers and principals to assess children's academic progress. Thanks to the best education minds in Washington, Albany and Lower Manhattan, we now have finely calibrated state tests aligned with the highest academic standards. What follows is a look back at New York's long march to a new age of accountability.
DECEMBER 2002 The state's education commissioner, Richard P. Mills, reports to the state Regents: "Students are learning more than ever. Student achievement has improved in relation to the standards over recent years and continues to do so."
JANUARY 2003 New York becomes one of the first five states to have its testing system approved by federal officials under the new No Child Left Behind law. The Princeton Review rates New York's assessment program No. 1 in the country.
The donor whose $350 million gift will be critical in building Cornell University's new high-tech graduate school on Roosevelt Island is Atlantic Philanthropies, whose founder, Charles F. Feeney, is a Cornell alumnus who made billions of dollars through the Duty Free Shoppers Group.
Mr. Feeney, 80, has spent much of the last three decades giving away his fortune, with large gifts to universities all over the world and an unusual degree of anonymity. Cornell officials revealed in 2007 that he had given some $600 million to the university over the years, yet nothing on its Ithaca campus, where he graduated from the School of Hotel Management in 1956.
The $350 million gift, the largest in the university's history, was announced on Friday, but the donor was not named. Officials at Atlantic Philanthropies confirmed on Monday evening that it was Mr. Feeney, a native of Elizabeth, N.J., who is known for his frugality -- he flies coach, owns neither a home nor a car, and wears a $15 watch -- as well as his philanthropic generosity, particularly to medical research.
The Madison School Board voted early Tuesday morning against a charter school geared toward low-income minority students.Nathan Comp:
Moments later, Urban League of Greater Madison President Kaleem Caire announced to a crowd of emotional supporters that he planned to file a racial discrimination lawsuit with the U.S. Justice Department. He also urged the supporters to run for School Board.
"We are going to challenge this school district like they've never been challenged before, I swear to God," Caire said.
The School Board voted against the plan 5-2, as expected, just after midnight. In the hours leading up to the vote, however, hundreds of Madison Preparatory Academy supporters urged them to change their minds.
More than 450 people gathered at Memorial High School for public comments, which lasted more than four hours.
It was the first School Board meeting moved to Memorial since a 2001 debate over the Pledge of Allegiance in schools.
But the night's harshest criticism was leveled not at the proposal but at the board itself, over a perceived lack of leadership "from the superintendent on down."Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
"You meet every need of the unions, but keep minority student achievement a low priority," said one parent.
Others suggested the same.
"This vote is not about Madison Prep," said Jan O'Neill, a citizen who came out to speak. "It's about this community, who we are and what we stand for -- and who we stand up for."
Among the issues raised by opponents, the one that seemed to weigh heaviest on the minds of board members was the non-instrumentality issue, which would've allowed Madison Prep to hire non-union staff.
A work preservation clause in the district's collective bargaining agreement with the teacher's union requires the district to hire union staff. Board member Ed Hughes said he wanted to approve Madison Prep, but feared that approving a non-instrumentality school would put the district in breach of its contract with Madison Teachers, Inc.
"It's undeniable that Madison school district hasn't done very well by its African American students," he said. "But I think it's incumbent upon us to honor the contract."
Elisabeth Krents loves eating hot fudge sundaes, reading Wilkie Collins novels and trying, often unsuccessfully, to grow tomatoes. Yet in certain living rooms, in coffee shops and on Web sites, Ms. Krents, 61, incites the kind of fear and fascination usually reserved for a head of state or an over-covered celebrity.
"When sending thank you to Babby, address envelope to 'Elisabeth Krents,' correct? And leave off 'PhD'?" one anxious parent asked on the online forum Urban Baby. "It's like Santa Claus," responded a more experienced anxious parent. "Just send it to the Babster, UES. She'll get it."
Ms. Krents, called Babby by intimates and hopeful applicants alike, is a singularly powerful New Yorker whose name inspires endless opinion -- some informed, much unsubstantiated.
As admissions director since 1996 at the Dalton School on the Upper East Side, Ms. Krents decides each year which of the city's supply of high-achieving 4-year-olds get the privilege of attending one of the nation's best-regarded kindergartens, which costs $36,970 a year. Because many people believe admission to be a golden ticket leading to the Ivy League and a successful life beyond, and because of the increasingly bad math of private-school admissions in Manhattan, a kind of Babby Krents mythology has developed in certain precincts.
Admissions directors are a feared lot in a city where 10 children often apply for a single seat. Ms. Krents is, to some extent, the queen bee, if only because she has been doing it longer than most and is doing it at Dalton. The school is among the most selective in the city, in part because many parents believe it has perfected the balance between progressive education (learning matters) and results (graduates get into top colleges).
Power brokers fear her, well-heeled mothers seek advice on how to dress for her, wads of money are spent on preparing small children to impress her -- and people, it seems, are unwilling to share their names along with their thoughts about her.
"I lived in fear of her because of all the rumors," said one Dalton mother, speaking, like more than a dozen others interviewed, on the condition of anonymity out of concern that it could affect her children, one of whom has yet to face the admissions gantlet.
Conventional wisdom has it that not scoring a face-to-face meeting with Ms. Krents is tantamount to rejection. (Not true, she said in a recent interview; it is merely a matter of scheduling.)
Some posit that calling her "Elisabeth" in the parent or child interview will alienate her. (Nonsense, she said, though only her mother, now deceased, called her that.) Summer birthdays need not apply. ("No!" she said excitedly. "The school is filled with summer birthdays!") Being rich helps. ("We look at the full pie, and that's not part of the decision.")
Ms. Krents turns out to be warm and easy to talk to; "she was perfectly lovely" is how the aforementioned fearful mother put it. She loves meeting people and hearing their stories, and she does not seem burned out from the drone of similar questions, anxieties and attempted bribes. (Recalling a vat of fudge offered by one parent, she said, "I had to turn that away with tears in my eyes.")
She is famous for remembering details about every child. Another mother recalled Ms. Krents's suggesting that her 5-year-old meet another boy with common interests; years later, they are best friends. "It's weird," the mother said. "She could see it."
For her part, Ms. Krents said of applicants, "I feel it's my role to hold their hand." Her goal in interviewing parents, as she asks them to describe their precious little ones, is to see them settle back in their seats and relax their hunched shoulders. "That's what I'm about," she said. "I want to know as much as I can about their child."
Perhaps it is her affability that feeds the "Babby" divide. Those who meet her like her. But most of their children will inevitably be rejected, so the warmth is often clouded, if not replaced, by feelings of resentment -- hence the not-nice things that proliferate on the Web and in certain kaffeeklatsches.
"It's upsetting," Ms. Krents said. "People get very disappointed when they can't have what they want."
Ms. Krents and Ellen Stein, Dalton's head of school, declined to disclose how many applications pour in each year, for fear of elevating the already-elevated anxiety.
In recent years, Ms. Krents, like many of her counterparts across the city, has been on a mission to diversify Dalton, which has only exacerbated the unfortunate odds and the attendant anxiety. Forty-seven percent of Dalton's 97 kindergartners this year are members of minority groups, a fact that has upset some families in which a parent attended the school and perhaps donated to its endowment as a kind of down payment on that golden ticket.
"It's creating resentment in the community," said one alumna, who has refused to give any more money to the school until her child is accepted. "The whole point of a legacy is that it creates a sense of longevity and community."
Victoria Goldman, an admissions consultant, put it this way: "Babby feels she's doing right by the school, but families with siblings feel outraged."
Ms. Krents, for her part, disputes the notion that legacies or siblings of current students have been disadvantaged by the push for diversity. "This is a misconception," she said, adding that siblings make up a third to a half of each class, a portion that has not changed. "First and foremost, the spots go to siblings and alumni and faculty."
The drive to diversify, Ms. Krents said, started as far back as she did, 15 years ago. She defines diversity broadly -- "racial, ethnic, cultural, religious, socioeconomic, geographic, family background, family style, gender orientation, children with physical challenges, diversity of thought, co-ed" -- and personally, having had a brother, Harold, who was blind and who became the inspiration for the Broadway play "Butterflies Are Free."
"I saw families with a lack of understanding hurt him by not letting their children play with him," she said of Harold, who died in 1987 of a brain tumor. "It's instilled in you early on."
Dalton is hardly alone in its push to look more like New York City: half of this year's kindergarten students at Ethical Culture Fieldston's lower school in the Bronx are members of minority groups, as are 65 percent of the school's pre-K students. At Trinity School, on the Upper West Side, more than 40 percent of kindergartners are nonwhite.
But Felicia Washington, an African-American mother of two Dalton graduates whose name was provided by Ms. Krents, said hers was "the only school that talked about diversity up front."
"They wanted children of color and other kids to have a more well-rounded education," recalled Ms. Washington, who also sat on Dalton's board.
Financial aid is increasing as well. Last year, Dalton granted a total of $6.5 million to about 20 percent of the student body, school officials said. That amounted to 16 percent of tuition dollars, up from 13 percent in 2005-6.
Ms. Krents herself is a Dalton legacy: she graduated in the class of 1968, though she went to Scarsdale public schools, in Westchester County, through 10th grade. Her children followed her to Dalton -- in the classes of 1997 and 2000 -- and she is currently trying to teach her months-old grandson the school song.
"He's not doing well," she said.
She studied English and fine arts at Harvard and earned a master's degree and a Ph.D. at Columbia, with a dissertation on humor development in children, including the hearing-impaired, that she defended the day she delivered her second daughter.
Ms. Krents went to work in Dalton's development office in 1990. By the time she became admissions director, Ms. Stein was running the elementary school, and they became fast friends. Today the two women swap books, interrupt each other's thoughts and frequently finish each other's sentences.
Both women said they empathized with the anxiety that parents might feel in the admissions rush -- which, for many, does not abate even after they have scored one golden ticket.
"I think I fear her more now than I did before," another Dalton mother said. "She holds my kids in the palm of her hand."
Indeed, as this reporter left her office, Ms. Krents's parting words were, "Will we see you when your daughter turns 4?"
(new charter school being opened in the MASH [Middleton Alternative Senior High School] building. This proposal got started less than a year ago, got a planning grant from DPI in August, and will open in the fall.)Middleton High School Black Students Find A Voice
It's Thursday morning and a group of students are seated around an oblong table in a classroom at Middleton High School.Much more on the Clark Street Community Charter School.
Most of the students are black. A few are white. Together they make up the school's Black Student Union (BSU), which was founded last year thanks in large part to the work of a few dedicated teen-agers. Today they are passing around a small toy, a black and white Holstein cow (the student holding the cow has the floor), and talking candidly about issues of race.
"I don't want us to be a joke," said one student. "I don't see other student organizations treated like a joke, and I want this one taken seriously, too."
Another turns her criticism inward, saying she feels it is important that African-American students not perpetuate negative stereotypes about themselves in the school's corridors.
Yet another suggests holding more public events and charitable activities, prompting one young woman to volunteer to prepare food for a bake sale.
In a casual conversation between an upper-middle-class parent and a senior faculty member at a four-year institution of higher education, the parent bemoaned the steep increase in the cost of sending his youngest daughter to college, compared to that of her eldest sibling. Clearly intimating that the substantial monetary difference went into the faculty member's pocket, the parent quipped, "I hope you are enjoying the car that I bought for you."
This parent's conclusion raises two questions -- one about rising costs and the other about faculty salaries. Addressing these questions must take into consideration various factors. First, for example, institutions of higher education vary widely. The answers here are limited to four-year public and private, nonprofit colleges and universities. Second, the sources of data vary in their objectivity and in their time periods. These answers identify the sources, which are reputable as not particularly skewed. Similarly, although not uniformly available for the same long-term period, the cited data cover at least 8-10 years so as not to rely on short-term changes.
Question 1: Have college prices to parents really risen steeply, when inflation, institutional financial aid grants, and other sources of "tuition discounting" are taken into account?
Part 1 here, (the introductory material is copied from there).Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
The discussion around the Madison Preparatory Academy (MPA) proposal and the related events and processes has been heated, but not always grounded in reality. Many have said that just having this conversation is a good thing. I don't agree. With myths being so prevalent and prominent, a productive conversation is nearly impossible. Since the vote is scheduled for Monday (12/19), I thought it would be good to take a closer -- fact based, but opinionated -- look at some of the myths. This is part two, although there are plenty of myths left to be examined, I've only gotten one up here. I may post more separately or in an update here on Monday.
Three things to get out of the way first.
One is that the meeting is now scheduled to be held at 6:00 Pm at the Memorial High School Auditorium and that for this meeting the sign up period to speak will be from 5:45 to 6:00 PM (only).
Second, much of the information on Madison Prep can be found on the district web page devoted to the topic. I'm not going do as many hyperlinks to sources as I usually do because much of he material is there already. Time constraints, the fact that people rarely click the links I so carefully include, and, because some of the things I'll be discussing presently are more along the lines of "what people are saying/thinking," rather than official statements, also played a role in this decision. I especially want to emphasize this last point. Some of the myths being examined come straight from "official" statements or sources, some are extensions of "official" things taken up by advocates, and some are self-generated by unaffiliated advocates.
Millions of learners have enjoyed the free lecture videos and other course materials published online through the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's OpenCourseWare project. Now MIT plans to release a fresh batch of open online courses--and, for the first time, to offer certificates to outside students who complete them.
The credentials are part of a new, interactive e-learning venture, tentatively called MITx, that is expected to host "a virtual community of millions of learners around the world," the institute will announce on Monday.
Here's how it will work: MITx will give anyone free access to an online-course platform. Users will include students on the MIT campus, but also external learners like high-school seniors and engineering majors at other colleges. They'll watch videos, answer questions, practice exercises, visit online labs, and take quizzes and tests. They'll also connect with others working on the material.
The first course will begin around the spring of 2012. MIT has not yet announced its subject, but the goal is to build a portfolio of high-demand courses--the kind that draw more than 200 people to lecture halls on the campus, in Cambridge, Mass. MIT is investing "millions of dollars" in the project, said L. Rafael Reif, the provost, and the plan is to solicit more from donors and foundations.
Carolyn Bucior now has greater respect for classroom teachers.
She also has a greater sense of annoyance at some teachers.
And she has a grasp on a generally ignored issue in education that has led to her voice being heard nationally.
Substitute teaching is usually looked at somewhat benignly as one of those things that is part of school life. Like everyone else, teachers get sick sometimes or have other reasons to be absent. So someone gets called in to fill in.
I suspect everyone knows this is unlikely to be productive. Goofing off (or worse) when a sub is in the classroom has been a staple of student life since schools were invented.
You have to have an adult keep an eye on what kids are doing, but to expect education to move forward when someone steps in cold is rarely realistic. Well, maybe to watch a video the teacher left behind.
A majority of the Madison School Board won't support opening next fall a controversial, single-sex charter school geared toward low-income minority students.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
But it's unclear whether a compromise proposal to start Madison Preparatory Academy in 2013 will gain enough votes Tuesday night when the board meets.
School Board members Beth Moss and Arlene Silveira were the latest to publicly express their opposition to the current proposal for the school.
Moss said Monday in a letter to the State Journal published on madison.com that she doesn't believe the school will help the neediest students. Silveira confirmed her opposition in an interview.
The seven-member board is scheduled to vote Tuesday night on the proposal.
For the last 17 months, I have followed the commentary and misinformation shared about our organization's proposal to establish Madison Preparatory Academy.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Some who have written and commented about our proposal have been very supportive; others don't think Madison Prep should exist. With less than 24 hours until the Madison School Board votes on the school, we would like to bring the public back to the central reasons why we proposed Madison Prep in August 2010.
First, hundreds of black and Latino children are failing to complete high school each year. In 2009, the Madison School District reported that 59 percent of black and 61 percent of Latino students graduated. In 2010, the percentage of graduates dropped to 48 percent for Black and 56 percent for Latino students. This not only has an adverse impact on our young people, their families and our community, it results in millions in lost revenue to the Madison district every year.
Second, in 2010, just 20 percent of the 387 black and 37 percent of the 191 Latino seniors enrolled in the district completed the ACT college entrance exam. The ACT is required for admission by all public colleges and universities in Wisconsin. Unfortunately, just 7 percent of black and 18 percent of Latino student who completed the ACT were "ready for college." This means that only 5 of 387 black and 13 of 191 Latino students were academically ready for college.
The motto of fee-paying Robert Gordon's College in Aberdeen is: "Now you should use all your masterly skills" (Omni nunc arte magistra).
Michael Gove, the education secretary, is a former pupil. Since his appointment, he has given every sign that he has taken the motto to heart. In a blizzard of reforms, his skill has been to appear charming, collaborative and collegiate, while exercising a determination to do it his way, "it" in this case being the radical remodelling of the education system.
Yesterday, a glimpse of how his affability camouflages an iron resolve was again revealed when it was announced that the final results of an independent review of the national curriculum, expected in the new year, will now be delayed for 12 months. Critics say the delay is driven by the minister's desire to stamp his authority on the review process.
The main principle of the Harlem Children's Zone is simple: When failure is not allowed, success prevails.
"Are your kids graduating high school? No. Are your kids going to college? No. That's not success," Geoffrey Canada, president and chief executive officer of the Harlem Children's Zone, asked a Buffalo audience Friday.
Canada, nationally recognized as an advocate for education reform, was the keynote speaker at the first Education Summit presented by the Community Action Organization of Erie County's Education Task Force.
Entitled "Power of Education -- Children First," the summit was held at the Adam's Mark Hotel in downtown Buffalo. The purpose was to advance the cause of educational reform in the interests of children across Western New York and explore how to create those opportunities. About 300 people attended.
Public employee union leaders Mary Bell and Marty Beil say the collective bargaining restrictions on their members enacted this year have galvanized the state's labor movement and paved the way for victory in potential recall elections in 2012.
But even if Dems are swept into the governor's office and the Senate majority, the union heads say they aren't necessarily seeking a complete return to the way things were before February.
"There has to be some changes ... has to be some tweaking there," said Beil (left), executive director of the Wisconsin State Employees Union. "But certainly not tweaking in the areas of the unions being able to bargain collectively for wages, hours and working conditions."
Bell, leader of the Wisconsin Education Association Council -- the state's largest teachers union -- added she's simply hoping for a collective bargaining environment that ensures the voice of workers and "whether that is the law we had or the law that we needed even then, I think, is the question."
"But the most important piece of this is that if you're going to make that kind of significant change, you do not do it without a conversation among the people that are affected," Bell told a WisPolitics.com luncheon. "That's what's been so offensive about the last year."
The other day AP published an article titled, "Census shows 1 in 2 people are poor or low-income," which pointed to a US Census Bureau report showing that half of all households earn less than the median national income. Yes, you read that correctly.
The AP's Hope Yen reported:
Squeezed by rising living costs, a record number of Americans -- nearly 1 in 2 -- have fallen into poverty or are scraping by on earnings that classify them as low income.
The Census Bureau's definition of a 'low-income household' is less than $45,000, as the AP's Yen wrote:
Many middle-class Americans are dropping below the low-income threshold -- roughly $45,000 for a family of four...
As we noted in a post on the AP 'story,' the US Census Bureau estimates that the median 2009 US household income was about $50,000.
So it seems the crux of the AP article can be accurately shortened to: Half of all households have an income below the median average!
As No Child Left Behind becomes an ever bigger disaster, Secretary Duncan faces a major dilemma. How can he continue to enforce this law he has declared a train wreck?
Last spring, in an attempt to goad Congress into accepting his formula for revising No Child Left Behind, Education Secretary Arne Duncan made some dire predictions.
In his testimony, he said:
...we did an analysis which shows that -- next year -- the number of schools not meeting their goals under NCLB could double to over 80 percent -- even if we assume that all schools will gain as much as the top quartile in the state.
So let me repeat that: four out of five schools in America many not meet their goals under NCLB by next year. The consequences under the current law are very clear: states and districts all across American may have to intervene in more and more schools each year, implementing the exact same interventions regardless of the schools' individual needs.
The state has threatened to withhold $2.5 million in federal funding from the Brandywine School District because it believes it is not giving teachers enough time to plan how to best educate students.
State Department of Education officials decided to put the school district on notice after it was discovered it failed to properly implement required 90-minute common planning times for high school teachers.
The state has offered to help the school find a way to incorporate the program properly. But if that's not accomplished by next school year, the district stands to lose its portion of the state's Race to the Top grant.
At 12:30 am on June 10, 2002, Israel Lane Joubert and his family of seven set out for a long drive home following a family reunion in Beaumont, Texas. Joubert, who had hoped to reach home in faraway Fort Worth in time to get to work by 8 am, fell asleep at the wheel, plowing the family's Chevy Suburban into the rear of a parked 18-wheeler. He survived, but his wife and five of his six children were killed.
The Joubert tragedy underscores a problem of epidemic proportions among workers who get too little sleep. In the past five years, driver fatigue has accounted for more than 1.35 million automobile accidents in the United States alone, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The general effect of sleep deprivation on cognitive performance is well-known: Stay awake longer than 18 consecutive hours, and your reaction speed, short-term and long-term memory, ability to focus, decision-making capacity, math processing, cognitive speed, and spatial orientation all start to suffer. Cut sleep back to five or six hours a night for several days in a row, and the accumulated sleep deficit magnifies these negative effects. (Sleep deprivation is implicated in all kinds of physical maladies, too, from high blood pressure to obesity.)
In 2008, lawmakers in Springfield cobbled together a $530 million rescue package for Chicago's transit system, which was on the brink of collapse because of sky-high labor and legacy costs. Just this week they pushed through $300 million of tax credits for the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Chicago Board Options Exchange and Sears to prevent the businesses from fleeing to lower-tax climes. Both Indiana and Ohio have been aggressively poaching Illinois businesses, especially since January, when lawmakers raised the state income tax to a flat 5% from 3% and the corporate tax to 9.5% from 7.3%.
The special carve-outs may stop Sears and the financial exchanges from flying the coop, but the income-tax hikes will still prove job-killers. While the jobless rate in other Midwest states has stayed relatively flat over the past year, Illinois's unemployment rate has risen to 10.1% from 9%. Most of the lost jobs are in information technology and financial services, which are some of the easiest to move.
Hawaii's charter school system received a scathing report from the state auditor's office Thursday.
The Charter School Review Panel, which is the agency charged with overseeing charter schools, "has misinterpreted state law and minimized its role in the system's accountability structure," the report states in its summary. It adds that the panel has delegated too much of the monitoring and accountability to the boards of individual schools.
The auditor's two overarching findings were:
The Charter School Review Panel fails to hold charter schools accountable for student performance.
Charter school operations fail to comply with state law and principles of public accountability.
Most of the information in the report was not news to the officials who oversee the 32-school charter school system, or to members of the public following the numerous nepotism, ethics and other scandals at charter schools around the state.
No matter where the votes fall Monday when the Madison School Board decides whether to OK a charter school proposal for the controversial Madison Preparatory Academy, the idea of a buttoned-down, no-nonsense alternative to the city's public schools already has entered the local popular culture. It is not only a beacon of hope in efforts to end a lingering race-based academic achievement gap, but also has become an emblematic stick to nudge underperforming kids into line.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
As high school senior Adaeze Okoli tells it, when her little brother isn't working up to his potential, her mom jokingly threatens to send him to Madison Prep.
That anecdote says a lot about how distinct a presence the proposed school already has become in local communities of color. It makes me wonder how kids would feel about attending a school that is boys-only or girls-only and requires uniforms, longer school days, a longer school year and greater parental involvement.
Put the kids first for a change, Urban League of Greater Madison president Kaleem Caire, the architect and unflagging advocate of the school plan, chided school district administrators after they declared that his proposal would violate the district's union contract with its teachers and provide inadequate accountability to the School Board. But for all the analysis and debate about the Madison Prep plan, I haven't heard much from young people about how they would like to go to such a school, and how they think the strict rules would influence learning.
To sound out some students, I turned to the Simpson St
Superintendent Dan Nerad acknowledged last week that existing Madison School District programs aimed at boosting minority achievement "are not having the impact we need for our kids."
"The data is telling us we need to do different things," Nerad added.
And the Urban League of Greater Madison's proposal for an unusual public charter school catering to low-income blacks and Latinos "has elevated the conversation, and I appreciate that," the superintendent said.
"I'm not raising any concerns about the programming side of it," he told the State Journal editorial board.
It sounded like a windup to endorsing the Madison Preparatory Academy, which faces a final vote by the Madison School Board on Monday night.
Instead, Nerad is recommending the School Board reject the academy, primarily because of complicated contract language.
That shouldn't happen.
The Madison School Board Monday night needs to work out the necessary details to make the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy a reality.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
There's absolutely no question that our school system, long deemed to be one of the best in the country for a vast majority of its students, is failing its African-American students and, as board member Ed Hughes recently pointed out, we need to accept that fact and be willing to give the Urban League an opportunity to show us a better way.
Still, it needs to be done carefully and not by yielding to heated tempers and ill-informed finger-pointers. This, after all, is not about conservatives vs. liberals, as some would gleefully proclaim, or even union supporters against those who believe unions lurk behind every failure in American education. It's about honest philosophical differences among well-meaning people on how best to educate our children during troubling economic times.
Yet, more importantly, despite the enormous hurdles, it has got to be about the kids and finding a way for them to succeed.
Though there are difficult issues to overcome, there's no need for the board and the Madison Prep advocates to draw lines in the sand. There surely is a middle ground that can honor the union contract, maintain a level of accountability at an acceptable cost to the taxpayers, and give the final OK to open the school.
The Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors met on December 15, 2011, and adopted the following resolution:Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Motion: The Board of Directors encourages a comprehensive approach to eliminate the student achievement gap currently present in Madison schools.
The Board strongly endorses the advancement of the Urban League of Greater Madison's proposed Madison Preparatory Academy. The Board also acknowledges and endorses the continued investment in successful strategies already employed by the Madison Metropolitan School District and the United Way of Dane County.
The Chamber Board recognizes that there is no panacea or singular solution to eliminating the student racial achievement gap. Rather, a comprehensive approach should be employed utilizing multiple strategies to address this problem.
The Chamber Board acknowledges the work of community and school leaders who have worked tirelessly on this issue. In particular, the United Way of Dane County has demonstrated tremendous leadership to ensure all struggling students achieve better results. The GMCC is a partner in Schools of Hope, a collaborative community initiative aimed at reducing the achievement gap. In addition, the United Way is committing more than $2 million over the next year for programs to address this issue.
One of the last remaining opportunities for a locally-elected government body to stop the increasing spread of the entitlement society and the dumbing down of education will occur Monday when the Madison School Board, together with their highly paid educational professionals, will determine the fate of Madison Prep Academy.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Based on news reports, the local teachers union and its always pushy head, John Matthews, oppose the venture. Why? Because the proposal advocates flexibility by hiring non-union teachers at a cost savings of millions!
To Matthews and MTI, your argument that "it's all about the kids" rings hollow and empty again.
Even though I am not a member of a minority and I dislike paying more real estate taxes for unnecessary projects, this non-union driven proposal by Kaleem Caire deserves approval for the future benefit of Madison's kids and residents.
It's ironic that John Matthews, executive director for Madison Teachers Inc., writes in a State Journal guest column that Madison Prep charter school could be implemented only if it was more like Nuestro Mundo.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
In 2004, when Nuestro Mundo applied, Matthews didn't support the formation of a charter school. He opposed the charter despite the fact that Nuestro Mundo wanted teachers to remain in the collective bargaining agreement as members of MTI.
If the Madison School Board had listened to Matthews back in 2004, there would not be a Nuestro Mundo charter school.
Nuestro Mundo came into existence through the work of members of the community and the efforts of three Madison School District board members, Ruth Robarts, Ray Allen and Juan Jose Lopez. In spite of the many legal and economic questions, they found a way to make Nuestro Mundo a reality.
Matthews has not assisted in the formation of charter schools. Don't look to him for a balanced opinion -- he's anti-charter.
-- Peter Joyce, Madison
Yesterday, the California Charter Schools Association caused a stir. The pro-charter group came out with a list of 10 independently-run schools it deemed underperforming -- and encouraged their respective school districts to close them when their 5-year contracts expire!
That list included West County Community High in Richmond, as my colleague Hannah Dreier reported in today's paper. Leadership High in San Francisco was also on it.
The complete list included 31 schools, but the association only published the names of those that are nearing the end of their 5-year terms and seeking a charter renewal.
Here's the reasoning behind the mov, from the news release:
When the Obama administration was seeking to drum up support for its education initiatives last spring, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told Congress that the federal law known as No Child Left Behind would label 82 percent of all the nation's public schools as failing this year. Skeptics questioned that projection, but Mr. Duncan insisted it was based on careful analysis.
President Obama repeated it in a speech three days later. "Four out of five schools will be labeled as failing," Mr. Obama said at Kenmore Middle School in Arlington, Va., in March. "That's an astonishing number."
Now a new study, scheduled for release on Thursday, says the administration's numbers were wildly overstated. The study, by the Center on Education Policy, a Washington research group headed by a Democratic lawyer who endorses most of the administration's education policies, says that 48 percent of the nation's 100,000 public schools were labeled as failing under the law this year.
More schoolchildren than ever are taking their classes online, using technology to avoid long commutes to school, add courses they wouldn't otherwise be able to take -- and save their school districts money.
But as states pour money into virtual classrooms, with an estimated 200,000 virtual K-12 students in 40 states from Washington to Wisconsin, educators are raising questions about online learning. States are taking halting steps to increase oversight, but regulation isn't moving nearly as fast as the virtual school boom.
The online school debate pits traditional education backers, often teachers' unions, against lawmakers tempted by the promise of cheaper online schools and school-choice advocates who believe private companies will apply cutting-edge technology to education.
Is online education as good as face-to-face teaching.
You'll often hear the argument that half or almost half of all beginning U.S. public school teachers leave the profession within five years.
The implications of this statistic are, of course, that we are losing a huge proportion of our new teachers, creating a "revolving door" of sorts, with teachers constantly leaving the profession and having to be replaced. This is costly, both financially (it is expensive to recruit and train new teachers) and in terms of productivity (we are losing teachers before they reach their peak effectiveness). And this doesn't even include teachers who stay in the profession but switch schools and/or districts (i.e., teacher mobility).*
Needless to say, some attrition is inevitable, and not all of it is necessarily harmful, Many new teachers, like all workers, leave (or are dismissed) because they are just aren't good at it - and, indeed, there is test-based evidence that novice leavers are, on average, less effective. But there are many other excellent teachers who exit due to working conditions or other negative factors that might be improved (for reviews of the literature on attrition/retention, see here and here).
As chief financial officer for one of Illinois's largest school districts, Cheryl Crates watches the money.
Early this year, she was counting on $14 million more rolling in for Community Unit District 300, after the expiration of a tax break at Sears Holdings' 800-acre headquarters in Hoffman Estates; it is the Sears corporate campus, which includes an on-site auto center, walking trails and even a hair salon for employees. When Crates met with Hoffman Estates officials in March, she learned the money might not be coming after all because the tax break might not expire.
"I cried," Crates said. "The school district has cut for the last two years. We've had no wage increases, and we were planning on that revenue to bring down our class sizes. We have one algebra class with 47 students. It was devastating."
Crates and her school district had suddenly found themselves at the epicenter of Illinois's latest political and financial crisis, described by one lawmaker as round-robin blackmail among Midwestern states. Unless Illinois agreed to extend the tax break, Sears threatened to leave. The state of Ohio, for one, dangled $400 million in tax incentives as a lure.
Online learning--for students and for teachers is one of the fastest growing trends in educational uses of technology. The National Center for Education Statistics (2008) estimated that the number of K-12 public school students enrolling in a technology-based distance education course grew by 65 percent in the two years from 2002-03 to 2004-05. On the basis of a more recent district survey, Picciano and Seaman (2009) estimated that more than a million K-12 students took online courses in school year 2007-08.
Online learning overlaps with the broader category of distance learning, which encompasses earlier technologies such as correspondence courses, educational television and videoconferencing. Earlier studies of distance learning concluded that these technologies were not significantly different from regular classroom learning in terms of effectiveness. Policy makers reasoned that if online instruction is no worse than traditional instruction in terms of student outcomes, then online education initiatives could be justified on the basis of cost efficiency or need to provide access to learners in settings where face-to-face instruction is not feasible. The question of the relative efficacy of online and face-to-face instruction needs to be revisited, however, in light of today's online learning applications, which can take advantage of a wide range of Web resources, including not only multimedia but also Web based applications and new collaboration technologies. These forms of online learning are a far cry from the televised broadcasts and videoconferencing that characterized earlier generations of distance education. Moreover, interest in hybrid approaches that blend in-class and online activities is increasing. Policy makers and practitioners want to know about the effectiveness of Internet based, interactive online learning approaches and need information about the conditions under which online learning is effective.
New York Times, University of Texas President Ends Tough Year With Yet Another Battle:[O]n Dec. 8, Mr. Powers abruptly demanded -- and received -- the resignation of Lawrence Sager as dean of the School of Law. Mr. Powers, who had formerly held the post, said the move was necessary to quell unrest among a deeply divided faculty. "You can't have a unit be productive, frankly, both on the teaching and on the research side, if there's not a sense of common enterprise," he said. "And for whatever reason, that has broken down." ...Brian Leiter (Chicago), Playing the "Gender Card" at Texas:
Tensions at the law school spiked following the distribution of 75 pages of documents requested from the university by three faculty members. The records, which have since been made public online, reveal complaints about gender equity at the school and detail the use of money from the University of Texas Law School Foundation, a separate nonprofit organization, to supplement faculty salaries -- including a $500,000 "forgivable loan" made in 2009 to Mr. Sager.One of the ugliest, and most unjust aspects, of recent turmoil at Texas is that allegations of gender discrimination have surfaced. "Patriotism" may still be the first refuge of scoundrels, but at least at the University of Texas School of Law, the demand for "gender equity" has taken on that role.
There are women on the Texas faculty who don't perform any institutional service or committee work, who barely publish, who publish but whose work isn't very highly regarded, and/or who are poor teachers. There are men who fit those descriptions too, unsurprisingly. And in looking over the public salary data, I am struck by how equitable the under-performing men and women are treated, with a few exceptions in both directions (and of both genders). By the way, that is what "gender equity" means: it means faculty are treated equally without regard to gender, not that women are paid as much as men, regardless of their job performance or scholarly reputation.
Chicago Public Schools is floating a plan to phase out one of its most popular magnet schools.Related: Matthew DeFour:
LaSalle Language Academy magnet school in Old Town gets 1,500 applications a year for around 70 openings.
Now, CPS wants to slowly convert the magnet to a neighborhood school that draws from the immediate area, one of the ritziest in the city. The school would take no new magnet school kindergartners in the fall, unless they already had a sibling enrolled in the school. Instead, the kindergarten would be filled with neighborhood children.
The change would relieve overcrowding at nearby Lincoln Elementary, where rising test scores have made the school a popular option for Lincoln Park families.
But LaSalle parents say the change would also dismantle their school's diversity, achieved from 30 years as a desegregation school.
Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad said Wednesday he will unveil next month a new plan for improving the achievement of low-income minority students.
The plan will summarize the district's current efforts as well as put forth new approaches, such as a longer school year and opening magnet schools, Nerad said.
One out of every 15 high school students smokes marijuana on a near daily basis, a figure that has reached a 30-year peak even as use of alcohol, cigarettes and cocaine among teenagers continues a slow decline, according to a new government report.
The popularity of marijuana, which is now more prevalent among 10th graders than cigarette smoking, reflects what researchers and drug officials say is a growing perception among teenagers that habitual marijuana use carries little risk of harm. That perception, experts say, is fueled in part by wider familiarity with medicinal marijuana and greater ease in obtaining it.
Although it is difficult to track the numbers, "we're clearly seeing an increase in teenage marijuana use that corresponds pretty clearly in time with the increase in medical marijuana use," said Dr. Christian Thurstone, medical director of the adolescent substance abuse treatment program at Denver Health and Hospital Authority, who was not involved in the study. Medical marijuana is legal in 16 states, including Colorado, and the District of Columbia.
One drive back from Dallas on Interstate 30 is indelibly etched into my memory. I was in the center lane. And just forward of me in the right lane, a soft-top Jeep slowly started drifting across all three lanes of traffic, never slowing down. I honked my horn to alert the driver, but the Jeep left the highway and slammed into the first wooden pike in a crash barrier, throwing the vehicle's rear end so high that I thought it might flip over.
Pulling onto the shoulder 50 or so feet ahead of the Jeep, I ran back, expecting the worst. But, while the driver was certainly going to be bruised, she was actually all right. So was her dog, in the front passenger floorboard. When I asked what had happened, she said she'd leaned over to pour some water into her dog's bowl on the floorboard and just wasn't paying attention. But I'd watched this accident unfold over five to seven seconds: She didn't just lean over for a second, she was completely oblivious to her loss of control of her vehicle until it crashed. I couldn't help but notice all the prescription bottles littering the Jeep's interior; one, filled the day before, was for Valium.
Because I had my cell phone with me, I had called Arlington 911 before I ever made it to her wreck.
The Madison Metropolitan School District has a problem educating minority pupils. Less than 50 percent of African-Americans graduate in four years and only 31 percent even take the ACT, an important prerequisite for admittance to four-year colleges. Yet the Madison School Board appears poised to vote down Kaleem Caire's promising proposal to educate the very demographic the district has proved incapable of reaching.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Caire's proposed school, Madison Prep, has several attributes that differentiate it from traditional MMSD schools. Among other things the school would have an extended school day and offer an International Baccalaureate program. Both features have proven track records in schools in Milwaukee.
Much has been made of the fact that there is no guarantee that Madison Prep would be successful. Well no, but the strength of the charter model is that, if the school is unsuccessful, the MMSD board is empowered to terminate its contract. Given the achievement levels of Madison's minority students, any hesitation of the board to try the innovative model is inexplicable.
Worse yet, the reasons for rejecting Madison Prep are divorced from education. The proposed school is a non-instrumentality charter, meaning the School Board authorizes the school but the school is not required to use MMSD employees, including union teachers. Madison Teachers Inc. Executive Director John Matthews finds this problematic, telling The Capital Times that the Madison Prep proposal could "easily be implemented" if it was an instrumentality school employing union teachers. Perhaps it would be easier, but it would also take away from Caire's goal of raising minority student achievement. There are key advantages to the non-instrumentality structure, most notably the ability to assemble and compensate a staff free from the pay schedule and work rules contained in the MTI contract.
Inside Chicago Public Schools, the joke long has been that when a school gets a fresh coat of paint and new windows, you can expect the central office to shut it down and open a charter in the building.
On Thursday, as Chicago Public Schools released a detailed list of $660 million in capital construction projects for the coming year, the district's top financial officer acknowledged, for perhaps the first time, that there's a kernel of truth in that.
"If we think there's a chance that a building is going to be closed in the next five to 10 years, if we think it's unlikely it's going to continue to be a school, we're not going to invest in that building," Chief Operating Officer Tim Cawley said.
HOUSTON, TX -- November 14, 2008 This week ABC-CLIO will launch its new annual research competition for secondary students at the National Council for the Social Studies 88th Annual Conference in Houston. The award-winning developer and publisher of history research databases will award more than $60,000 in cash and prizes in this unique competition for teams of secondary students working in collaboration with their social studies teachers and school library media specialists.
The topic for the inaugural competition is "Select the top 10 people, events or places that have shaped the course of history." Coached by their teacher and/or school library media specialist, student teams will identify their choices and then defend them and present their research findings to ABC-CLIO in an electronic format such as a slide show, online essay, video or animation, or an audio podcast. Entries should be submitted in standards-aligned curriculum categories for high school and middle grades. For high school, the categories are U.S. History, Ancient World History, Modern World History, U.S. Government and Civics, and Geography. For middle grades, the categories are Ancient Civilizations, World History and U.S. History and Government.
"We launched this competition to support ABC-CLIO's overall commitment to helping students develop critical-thinking skills, as well as the ability to think historically," said Becky Snyder, president, ABC-CLIO. "Our competition is unique because it maps closely to the topics that history educators are already teaching in their middle grades and high school classrooms. They can easily integrate it into instruction, assign it as a project or offer participation as an extra-credit opportunity. We are excited to see the innovative and creative approaches in the student team projects."
To conduct their research, teams must use and cite one or more of ABC-CLIO's eight online history databases. For schools not currently subscribing to the databases, free access to all eight databases is available for 90 days. Entries will be judged in April 2009 by a panel of leading historians and history educators, and grand-prize winners will be announced in May 2009.
I want to support the Urban League's Madison Prep charter school proposal. It is undeniable that the Madison School District has not done well by its African-American students. We need to accept that fact and be willing to step back and give our friends at the Urban League an opportunity to show us a better way.One wonders what additional hurdles will appear between now and 2013, should the District follow Ed's proposal. Kaleem Caire:
The issue is far more complicated than this, however. There are a number of roadblocks on the path to saying yes. I discuss these issues below. Some are more of an obstacle than others.
The biggest challenge is that a vote in favor of Madison Prep as it is currently proposed amounts to a vote to violate our collective bargaining agreement with our teachers. I see no way around this. I believe in honoring the terms of our contracts with our employees. For me, this means that I have to condition my support for Madison Prep on a one-year delay in its opening.
Most other obstacles and risks can be addressed by including reasonable provisions in the charter school contract between the school district and Urban League.
For the last 16 months, we have been on an arduous journey to develop a public school that would effectively address the educational needs of children who have under-performed or failed to succeed in Madison's public schools for at least the last 40 years. If you have followed the news stories, it's not hard to see how many mountains have been erected in our way during the process.Monday's vote will certainly reflect the District's priorities.
Some days, it has felt like we're desperately looking at our children standing dangerously close to the edge of a cliff, some already fallen over while others dangling by their thumbs waiting to be rescued; but before we can get close enough to save them, we have to walk across one million razor blades and through thousands of rose bushes with our bare feet. As we make our way to them and get closer, the razor blades get sharper and the rose bushes grow more dense.
Fortunately, our Board members and team at the Urban League and Madison Preparatory Academy, and the scores of supporters who've been plowing through the fields with us for the last year believe that our children's education, their emotional, social and personal development, and their futures are far more important than any pain we might endure.
President Obama's remarks on inequality, stoking populist anger at "the rich," suggest that the theme for his reelection bid will be not hope and change but focus on reducing class disparity with government help. But this effort isn't limited to economics; it is playing out in our nation's schools as well.
The issue is whether federal education efforts will compromise opportunities for our highest-achieving students. One might assume that a president determined to "win the future" would make a priority of ensuring that our ablest kids have the chance to excel.
To Obama, however, as for President George W. Bush, such concerns are a distraction at best. Last year the Education Department's civil rights division announced that it would investigate local school policies that have a "disparate impact" on poor or minority students -- signaling a willingness to go to court if department officials think that school systems have too few of such children in gifted programs or Advanced Placement courses. This bit of social engineering ignores the unseemly reality that advantaged children are statistically more likely to be ready to succeed in tough classes than are low-income children raised in households with fewer books and more television.
The result is a well-intended but misguided crusade to solve via administrative fiat the United States' long-standing achievement gap: the dramatic differences in test scores between white and minority students and between middle-class and poor youngsters. The message to schools was unmistakable: Get more poor and minority children into your advanced courses or risk legal action by Uncle Sam.
Then, in September, the president offered states and school districts flexibility around onerous provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act -- linked to certain conditions. Among these: States must explain how they are going to move more students into "challenging" courses. The effect will be yet another push to dilute high-level classes.
The goal of helping more young people succeed in challenging coursework is laudable. But pushing ill-prepared students into tougher classes without adequate preparation isn't doing anyone any favors. Indeed, the administration's strategy has been tried. Nationally, the number of graduates who had taken Advanced Placement exams rose from 1 million students in 2003 to 1.6 million in 2008. In a 2009 study of AP teachers, just 14 percent of educators said that the growth stemmed from an increase in the pool of qualified students. Half of the AP teachers in high-poverty schools said that their African American and Hispanic students were not prepared for AP instruction. Fifty-six percent said that too many students were in over their heads, with adverse consequences for those students and their better-prepared classmates.
Our single-minded focus on closing achievement gaps has almost certainly hurt our top students. In 1996, Rand Corp. scholars determined that low-achieving pupils benefit when placed in mixed-ability classrooms, faring about five percentage points better than those placed in lower-track classes, but that high-achievers score six percentage points worse in such general classes.
In 2008, six years after No Child Left Behind became law, a survey of teachers found 60 percent saying that struggling students were a "top priority" at their schools, while just 23 percent said the same of "academically advanced" students. Eighty percent said that struggling students were most likely to get one-on-one attention from teachers; only 5 percent said the same of advanced students.
The Thomas B. Fordham Institute and the Northwest Evaluation Association released a study in September that tracked more than 100,000 high-achieving pupils over time and found that more than one-third lost steam as they progressed through school. The Brookings Institution's Tom Loveless has reported that, while the nation's lowest-achieving students made significant gains in reading and math between 2000 and 2007, top students' gains were "anemic."
There are trade-offs here. But the possibility that what's best for our worst-off students is bad for high achievers is blithely ignored by the Obama team and many other school reformers. (To be fair, it was ignored by the Bush team, too.) Advocates with a single-minded focus on closing achievement gaps have insisted that what's good for the neediest kids is best for all kids. Those who question this mantra risk being labeled racist.
It's not like we can afford to coast. Just 6 percent of U.S. eighth-graders scored "advanced" on the 2007 international Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study assessment, while many nations fared at least twice that well.
Implemented thoughtfully, a commitment to getting more students into advanced classes is an objective worthy of a great nation. But it's not going to happen overnight -- not without defining "excellence" down.
At this very moment, millions of high-achievers are waiting to be challenged. Meeting their needs is another objective worthy of a great nation. They deserve our encouragement, not our indifference.
Michael J. Petrilli is executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Frederick M. Hess is director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute and author of "Our Achievement-Gap Mania," an article published in the journal National Affairs' Fall 2011 edition.
In Oakland, recall is in the air.
As some citizens collect signatures to recall Mayor Jean Quan, another group named Concerned Parents and Community Coalition is trying to oust five of the seven Oakland school board directors. It's targeting those who voted `yes' on the proposal this fall to close elementary schools: Jody London, David Kakishiba, Jumoke Hinton Hodge, Gary Yee, and Chris Dobbins.
The school board meets tonight, and members of the coalition planned to march to the district office from nearby Laney College at 4 p.m. and present the directors with intent to gather signatures for a recall. Our photographer went out there around 4:30 p.m. and found about six people, not counting reporters.
(7:15 p.m. UPDATE: More supporters have packed the board room. Board President Jody London turned off the mic after Joel Velasquez, of Concerned Parents, went over the time limit. London later called a recess as he continued to speak, with the help of supporters, in Occupy "mic-check" fashion. People then began chanting "Stop closing schools!" and "Recall!")
The public debate about the success and expansion of charter schools often seems to gravitate toward a tiny handful of empirical studies, when there is, in fact, a relatively well-developed literature focused on whether these schools generate larger testing gains among their students relative to their counterparts in comparable regular public schools. This brief reviews this body of evidence, with a focus on high-quality state- and district-level analyses that address, directly or indirectly, three questions:Download the "Policy Brief here (PDF).
Do charter schools produce larger testing gains overall?
What policies and practices seem to be associated with better performance?
Can charter schools expand successfully within the same location?
The available research suggests that charter schools' effects on test score gains vary by location, school/student characteristics and other factors. When there are differences, they tend to be modest. There is tentative evidence suggesting that high-performing charter schools share certain key features, especially private donations, large expansions of school time, tutoring programs and strong discipline policies. Finally, while there may be a role for state/local policies in ensuring quality as charters proliferate, scaling up proven approaches is constrained by the lack of adequate funding, and the few places where charter sectors as a whole have been shown to get very strong results seem to be those in which their presence is more limited. Overall, after more than 20 years of proliferation, charter schools face the same challenges as regular public schools in boosting student achievement, and future research should continue to focus on identifying the policies, practices and other characteristics that help explain the wide variation in their results.
The Madison Metropolitan School District's Board of Education vote on the proposed charter school, Madison Preparatory Academy, is just around the corner.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
We have heard from school board members, business leaders, teachers and other members of the community. It's safe to say that this is one of the most important issues in this city's history. While I am happy that Madison is finally having the long overdue conversation about how we educate our students who are falling through the cracks, I am not happy that the Urban League of Greater Madison and the school district couldn't come together to agree on a solution. In fact, it bothers me greatly.
It is a huge mistake to have this yearlong discussion come down to a contentious school board vote on Dec. 19. Both sides needed to come together to figure out a way to make Madison Prep a reality before that meeting.
Madison Metropolitan School District Superintendent Dan Nerad and various members of the school board say approving Madison Prep would violate the current contract with Madison Teachers, Inc. So, if 2012 isn't feasible, committing to a date to open Madison Prep's doors in 2013, and using the next three to six months to figure out the terms of that agreement should have been an option. But, unfortunately, that's not going to happen. Instead we have a school district and a civil rights organization arguing over ways to address the achievement gap and graduation rates. Not a good look. And the future relationship between the MMSD and the African American community could hang in the balance.
The Michigan House of Representatives voted Wednesday night to approve Senate Bill 618, which will lift the state's various caps on charter schools, House sources have confirmed. If and when the bill is signed by Governor Rick Snyder, it will go into law. The bill was passed 58-49, according to the Michigan Information & Resource Service (MIRS).
SB 618 had been tie-barred to a group of other Senate bills in the so-called "parent empowerment package," which means they all would've had to pass for any to take effect. But that tie-bar was broken when the House Education Committee approved SB 618 at its Nov. 30 meeting.
Some 35 amendments were offered, according to a House source. Several were approved. Perhaps the most consequential among the amendments phases in the lifting of the cap on charter schools, allowing up to 300 to be established through the end of 2012, 500 through 2014, and starting in 2015, no cap at all.
State Rep. Jeff Irwin, who represents Ann Arbor in Lansing, said that the "huge, gaping problem" in the bill, lifting the cap all at once, was addressed but he still wasn't happy with the way the bill turned out. None of the amendments proposed by Democrats passed, Irwin said; they weren't even brought to a vote.
As students gain access to sophisticated gadgets both at school and at home, educators are on the lookout for new kinds of cheating. From digitally inserting answers into soft drink labels to texting each other test answers and photos of exams, kids are finding new ways to get ahead when they haven't studied.
YouTube alone has dozens of videos that lay out step-by-step instructions: One three-minute segment shows how to digitally scan the wrapper of a soft drink bottle, then use photo editing software to erase the nutrition information and replace it with test answers or handy formulas. The video has gotten nearly 7 million hits.
Marriage rates in the US have hit an all-time low, as economic forces and social shifts have pushed couples to delay or avoid matrimony, according to an analysis of census data by the Pew Research Center.
Just 51 per cent of people over age 18 are married today, compared to 57 per cent in 2000 and 72 per cent in 1960, with trends pointing toward wedded couples becoming a social minority within a few years.
"Public attitudes about the institution of marriage are mixed," the report said. "Nearly four-in-10 Americans say marriage is becoming obsolete," yet most people who have never married say they would like to some day.
A sharp drop in marriages occurred between 2009 and 2010 when the US economy was in recession, with new nuptials declining 5 per cent. Young people, in particular, drove the rates down, as marriage rates fell 13 per cent among 18 to 24 year olds.
It looks like the biggest traffic jam in California next year may well be the various tax increases being pushed for the November ballot.
So far, at least five big tax measures are in play. Think Long Committee for California, a group of high-powered movers and shakers funded by billionaire Nick Berggruen, has proposed a $10 billion revenue increase by expanding the sales tax to services. A teachers' union is advocating an income tax increase on those who earn more than $1 million annually to fund schools. Environmental activists are trying to generate $1.1 billion for clean energy by taxing out-of-state businesses. Another measure would tax oil and gas generation to help pay for education and state universities.
And then there's Gov. Jerry Brown's recently announced measure to temporarily increase the sales tax and bump up income tax rates for the state's top earners. Brown had hoped to have a ballot measure last June to extend a temporary increase in income, sales and vehicle license fee rates that went into effect in 2009, but was unable to coax a single Republican legislator into voting even to put such an extension on the ballot. Hence, the tax increases have all expired.
George W. Bush is writing a sequel to his big education act. The No Child Left Behind law was signed almost a decade ago, with overwhelming approval from Congress (384 to 45 in the House and 91 to 8 in the Senate). Now, amid a bipartisan effort to gut its accountability measures, the former President is quietly pushing new education-reform initiatives aimed at improving and empowering school principals, who too often lack the training or authority to effectively run their schools. And once again, he's approaching this massive education problem by blurring political lines.
I was invited in my role as TIME's education columnist to sit in on a small meeting this week that Bush organized in New York City, and I was struck by the roster of advisers he had assembled to guide the George W. Bush Institute's education work. The group included some big names in the education non-profit world as well as leaders of traditional public schools and charter schools. But by my informal count, most of the 10 people around the table were Democrats, including Clinton and Obama administration alums. "He cares about education deeply, and he gets it," one staunchly Democratic education consultant, who now works with the institute, told me. The former President has already recruited officials from his administration as well as liberal stalwarts like Amy Wilkins of the Education Trust and Democratic education leaders like former North Carolina Governor James Hunt.
The University of California, Berkeley, announced Wednesday that it would offer far more financial aid to middle-class students starting next fall, with families earning up to $140,000 a year expected to contribute no more than 15 percent of their annual income, in what experts described as the most significant such move by a public institution.
As state budget cuts have led to rising tuition and fees at the University of California and other prestigious campuses across the nation, the middle class has increasingly been squeezed out of what was long seen as higher education's best balance between quality and affordability.
At Berkeley, officials said, the number of low-income and wealthy students has grown over the last several years, while the number from middle-class families has remained flat. That has raised concerns that some of the state's best and brightest are choosing private schools whose generous financial aid can erase differentials in sticker price or not enrolling at all. The cost of a year at Berkeley has risen sharply to $32,000.
Don Severson, via a kind email:
The Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education will vote December 19, 2011, on the Madison Preparatory Academy proposal for non-instrumentality charter school authorization. Active Citizens for Education endorses and supports the approval of the proposal.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
In addition to the rationale and data cited by the Urban League of Greater Madison, and significant others throughout the Madison community, supporting the curricular, instructional, parental and behavioral strategies and rigor of the school, ACE cites the following financial and accountability support for approval of the Academy as a non-instrumentality charter school.
The MMSD Board of Education is urged to approve the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy non-instrumentality charter school proposal; thereby, relieving the bondage which grips students and sentences them to a future lifetime of under-performance and lack of opportunities. Thank you.
- Financial: Should the Board deny approval of the proposal as a non-instrumentality the District stands to lose significant means of financial support from state aids and property tax revenue. The District is allowed $10,538.54 per student enrolled in the District the 2011-12 school year. With the possibility of Madison Prep becoming a private school if denied charter school status, the 120 boys and girls would not be enrolled in MMSD; therefore the District would not be the beneficiary of the state and local revenue. The following chart shows the cumulative affect of this reduction using current dollars:
2012-2013 6th grade 120 students @10,538.54 = $1,264,624.80
2013-2014 2 grades 240 students @10,538.54 = $2.529,249.60
2014-2015 3 grades 360 students @10,538.54 = $3,793,874.40
2015-2016 4 grades 480 students @10,538.54 = $5,058,499.20
2016-2017 5 grades 600 students @10,538.54 = $6.323.124.00
2017-2018 6 grades 720 students @10,538.54 = $7,587,748.80
2018-2019 7 grades 840 students @10,538.54 = $8,852,373.60
This lost revenue does not include increases in revenue that would be generated from improved completion/graduation rates (currently in the 50% range) of Black and Hispanic students resulting from enrollees in a charter school arrangement.
- Accountability: The MMSD Administration and Board have been demonstrating a misunderstanding of the terms 'accountability' and 'control'. The State charter school law allows for the creation of charter schools to provide learning experiences for identified student groups with innovative and results-oriented strategies, exempt from the encumbrances of many existing state and local school rules, policies and practices. Charter schools are authorized and designed to operate without the 'controls' which are the very smothering conditions causing many of the problems in our public schools. The resulting different charter school environment has been proven to provide improved academic and personal development growth for learners from the traditional school environment. Decreasing impediments and controls inhibiting learning increases the requirements for 'accountability' to achieve improved learner outcomes on the part of the charter school. Should the charter school not meet its stated and measurable goals, objectives and results then it is not accountable and therefore should be dissolved. This is the 'control' for which the Board of Education has the authority to hold a charter school accountable.
Let us describe an analogy. Private for-profit business and not-for-profit organizations are established to provide a product and/or service to customers, members and the public. The accountability of the business or organization for its continued existence depends on providing a quality product/services that customers/members want or need. If, for whatever reasons, the business or organization does not provide the quality and service expected and the customer/member does not obtain the results/satisfaction expected, the very existence of the business/organization is jeopardized and may ultimately go 'out of business'. This scenario is also absolutely true with a charter school. It appears that the significant fears for the MMSD Administration and Board of Education to overcome for the approval of the proposed non-instrumentality Madison Prep charter school are: 1) the fear of loss of 'control' instead of accepting responsibility for 'accountability', and 2) the fear that 'some other organization' will be successful with solutions and results for a problem not addressed by themselves.
Contact: Don Severson, President, 608 577-0851, firstname.lastname@example.org
Don Severson, via a kind email:
(Madison, WI) The Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education will make a decision at its regular meeting December 19th regarding the Urban League of Greater Madison (ULGM) proposal for a non-instrumentality charter school. Active Citizens for Education (ACE) has discussed several issues related to the proposal with the Board of Education, administration and with ULGM.
The Board of Education, in its deliberations, must weigh several implications and consequences for the schools, students, parents and the taxpaying public.
In its public statement, ACE will announce its position on the
financial implications of the proposal for future MMSD budgets and the taxpayers; how the issues of "control" and "accountability" relate to the authority of the Board of Education regarding approval or non-approval of the charter school proposal; and Madison Preparatory Academy over-all proposal.
The media conference will be held
December 15, 2011 (Thursday)
12:30 PM, Conference Room
Genesis Enterprise Center (GEC)
313 West Beltline Highway (off Rimrock Road to the west)
Mr. Severson will be available for questions and comments following the media conference.
BARACK OBAMA invited a puzzling group of people into the White House on December 5th: university presidents. What should one make of these strange creatures? Are they chief executives or labour leaders? Heads of pre-industrial guilds or champions of one of America's most successful industries? Defenders of civilisation or merciless rack-renters?
Whatever they might be, they are at the heart of a political firestorm. Anger about the cost of college extends from the preppiest of parents to the grungiest of Occupiers. Mr Obama is trying to channel the anger, to avoid being sideswiped by it. The White House invitation complained that costs have trebled in the past three decades. Arne Duncan, the secretary of education, has urged universities to address costs with "much greater urgency".
A sense of urgency is justified: ex-students have debts approaching $1 trillion. But calm reflection is needed too. America's universities suffer from many maladies besides cost. And rising costs are often symptoms of much deeper problems: problems that were irritating during the years of affluence but which are cancerous in an age of austerity.
Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad said Wednesday he will unveil next month a new plan for improving the achievement of low-income minority students.Superintendent Nerad's former District; Green Bay offers three "magnet options":
The plan will summarize the district's current efforts as well as put forth new approaches, such as a longer school year and opening magnet schools, Nerad said.
Nerad discussed the plan in a meeting with the State Journal editorial board less than a week before the School Board is to vote on Madison Preparatory Academy, a proposed charter school geared toward low-income, minority students.
Nerad said he opposes the current proposal for Madison Prep primarily because it would violate the district's contract with its teachers union, but that he agrees with the charter school's supporters in that a new approach to close the achievement gap is necessary.
"I made a purposeful decision to not bring (a plan) forward over the past several months to not cloud the discussion about Madison Prep," Nerad said. "It's caused us to take a step back and say, 'We're doing a lot of things, but what else do we need to be doing?'"
Here's a quote from an on-line comment of a Madison Prep opponent responding to one of the several op-ed pieces posted in the Cap Times in recent days: "There are barriers to students with special education needs, barriers to students with behavioral needs, and barriers to kids who rely on public transportation. These children are simply not the 'right fit'. It is Madison Prep's proposal to leave these kids in their neighborhood schools."Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
The notion seems to be that Madison Prep may not be welcoming for students from all points along the spectrum of educational needs, even though our neighborhood schools are obligated to serve everyone.
I think the self-selection process for Madison Prep should be taken into account in assessing how its students perform. But it does not trouble me that the school is not designed to meet the needs of all our students. No one need apply to attend and no student will be denied current services or programs if Madison Prep is authorized.
Thirteen high schools won high praise for their soaring graduation rates during the Miami-Dade School Board's last meeting for the year Wednesday.Related: Excellence in Education explains Florida's reading reforms and compares Florida's NAEP progress with Wisconsin's at the July 29th Read to Lead task force meeting.
Overall, Miami-Dade County's public schools hit their highest graduation rate ever, nearly 78 percent -- higher than Broward County's and just shy of the state's 80 percent rate.
But the celebration came with a warning: Next year could be very different.
There is a new FCAT 2.0 and, in the pipeline, a new scoring scale for that exam, plus more weight on reading and a new grading model for state-issued letter grades. Other changes in 2012: More tests will be administered via computers and new end-of-course exams will be given in geometry and biology.
"As we celebrate this year's outstanding graduation accomplishments, it's important to inform the community what's happening in Tallahassee and across our state," said Superintendent Alberto Carvalho. "The new standards are going to change the game for all of us."
Parts of the new standards are still being developed. On Monday, the State Board of Education will consider proposed new scoring levels for the FCAT 2.0 and the algebra end-of-course exam.
With all the talk about online education lately, it's clear that the vision evoked by the words "home schooling" is changing. The image of Mom and kids sitting at the kitchen table has given way to a child logging onto a virtual class from the home office.
The number of students in kindergarten through 12th grade enrolled in virtual schools nationwide has grown to 225,000 from 50,000 a decade ago--and 30% year over year since 2001, says Susan Patrick, chief executive of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning, a nonprofit advocacy group. Some parents choose virtual schooling to accommodate a heavy schedule of extracurricular classes or interests; others feel their children's needs are better served outside a traditional classroom. Here are two families' experiences.
A Chicago Board of Education meeting came to a sudden halt Wednesday when a raucous group of protesters from the Chicago Teachers Union, Occupy Chicago and other organizations erupted into a chorus of chants denouncing board members.
It was the first board meeting since Chicago Public Schools announced a series of closings, consolidations and turnarounds that could affect 21 schools on the city's South and West sides. While none of those actions were being voted on, the agenda included the approval of 12 new charter schools.
The protesters drowned out the voice of CPS chief executive Jean-Claude Brizard, who had just begun a presentation to board members. "You have failed...You have produced chaos...You should be fired" they chanted.
When they paused, board president David Vitale said he hoped they had "gotten it out of their system," which set off another round of shouting.
Welcome to the third edition of the relaunched Learning Matters podcast. In this episode, Learning Matters web producer Ted Bauer speaks with UPenn vice dean and professor Doug Lynch about various issues in education, including his business plan competition. Lynch draws pointed contrasts between corporate education and public education, and is candid about the notion of success and failure within the field. Enjoy the conversation.
There's a longstanding myth of a gender gap between boys' and girls' math performance, suggesting some basic biological difference in how the two genders approach math. It's deeply controversial and widely discredited. And now, a new study has completely debunked it.
Until now, there was maybe a sliver of statistical data to support the existence of this gender gap -- nothing remotely convincing, mind you, but just enough that the idea couldn't be entirely dismissed out of hand. While most who studied the issue pointed for cultural or social reasons why girls might lag behind boys in math performance, there was still room for biological theories to be proposed.
The best-known of these is the "greater male variability hypothesis", which basically says ability among males varies more widely than that of females, which means you'll see more males at the extreme ends of the spectrum, good and bad. Then-Harvard president Larry Summers infamously put forward this idea back in 2005 as a way to explain the lack of great female mathematicians, and this was one of about a dozen different factors that ultimately cost him his job.
School districts across Wisconsin have made strides toward reforming the state's teacher evaluation process by implementing new merit-based salaries for teachers under new powers provided by the budget repair legislation.
Under Gov. Scott Walker's controversial legislation, bargaining units for teachers are still able to negotiate base wages, but cannot negotiate other areas, including certain funds allocated for teacher performance. The bill now gives more authority to district leaders to make changes in working conditions, hours and compensation systems for teachers and staff.
Cedarburg School District in eastern Wisconsin is one of many schools making a move toward the merit-pay system for teachers. The district's superintendent, Daryl Herrick, said the new criteria for pay would be based on a new evaluation model.
"There would be teachers in three-year cycles," Herrick said. "There will be varied activities in the cycles where both the evaluator and the teacher provide direct observations to indicate their performance levels. We'll also have a goal-setting process in order to determine performance."
Appearances suggest Madisonians would be sympathetic to Madison Preparatory Academy.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School, here.
Here is a citizenry known for its progressivism, inclusiveness and embrace of the disenfranchised.
And here is a five-year educational experiment aimed at helping students of darker skin and lesser means who are sometimes only a couple of years removed from failing schools in Chicago and Milwaukee.
I guess appearances can be deceiving.
On Monday, the Madison School Board is likely to go along with district administrators' recommendation to vote down a five-year charter for Madison Prep, a project of the Urban League of Greater Madison that would aim to improve the performance and life prospects of students the district has so far failed to reach.
I suspect Madison Prep's future wouldn't be so dire if over the last year Madison's supposedly liberal power structure had been willing to take up its cause.
My decision to vote against the Madison Prep proposal is very difficult. I pushed for the planning grant over a year ago when only one other School Board member would sponsor the proposal.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School, here.
I raised many questions because of the complex scope of the Urban League's proposal for a charter school that aims to reduce the achievement gap between white and minority students. My concerns come down to this: Will this proposal be the best investment for the most students? Is this college-prep program the area of focus that would best serve the many struggling students in our district?
The fundamental conclusion I came to over the course of a year is that this proposal would put the district at risk legally and would challenge our district philosophy pertaining to special education students. Perhaps more importantly, the proposal constructs undue barriers such as mandatory information meetings, fundraising and parent contracts. These admission policies would have the effect of excluding students based on language background, prior academic performance, or parental self-selection.
My decision has nothing to do with defending the status quo or protecting the union. However, as a School Board member, parent and neighbor to many children in our district, I believe we have some of the most dedicated and knowledgeable staff in education today.
The bigger question here is whether bankruptcy would actually help any of these struggling districts. Debts could be restructured and bondholders paid off, but would the districts be in any better shape? It's not even clear to me that a higher level of state oversight would make a difference. The state might just know sooner that it has to find the money for a bailout. And with revenues falling everywhere, it would probably be impossible for the state to insist that all at-risk districts bulk-up their reserve funds.
Throwing up your hands probably isn't an option, however, when it comes to public education. But obviously in close to a fifth of the state's school districts, cost structures aren't able to cope with major budget shocks, at the state or local level. And remember, the state's population is growing -- it could hit 48 million by 2020. A well-educated workforce is something that California will urgently need to remain competitive in the 21st century. But in order to have that, the state is going to need to do something to stabilize the finances of its public education system. And before that...deal with the falling axe of the trigger cuts.
For many students who take a foreign language, the highest authority they have to answer to is their teacher.
But for some of the 220 students who study Japanese at St. Paul's School in Brooklandville, Monday offered an opportunity to show their skills for an expert guest: Japan's ambassador to the United States
Japanese Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki and his wife, Yoriko, were accompanied by Takahisa Murakami, Counselor of Education for the Japanese Embassy, and Takayuki Iriya, Fujisaki's first secretary, to sample Japanese educational offerings at St. Paul's School in Brooklandville.
It's the kind of calculation that ruffles the robes of administrators at the most prestigious universities in the country. It's a blunt bottom-line approach to a postsecondary education, a show-me-the-money college survey. And it's one academic contest that the Ivies don't win.
For decades, the best-known college rankings have tried to encompass everything from alumni giving and "academic reputation" to dorm amenities. But a few years ago, SmartMoney stripped all that away in favor of a simpler benchmark. With help from PayScale, a Seattle-based compensation-data company that maintains salary profiles of 29 million workers, we collected median pay figures for two pools of each school's alums: recent grads (who've been out of school for an average of two years) and midcareer types (an average of 15 years out). For each class, we divided the median alumnus salary by tuition and fees (assuming they paid full price at then-current rates), averaged the results and, finally, converted that result to a percentage figure. The outcome: a measure of return on (tuition) investment that we've dubbed the Payback Score. For example, a hypothetical grad who spent $100,000 to attend college and now earns $150,000 a year would score 150. The higher the score, obviously, the better.
1) For NEA and Affiliates, It's Already 2012. Back in May, and again in July, there was a huge stink about NEA's decision to endorse President Obama for reelection a year earlier than usual. Despite the debate over what message the endorsement sent to the members and the White House, it was procedurally necessary, because the union could not devote money and resources to the Presidential campaign until after an endorsement - and these days waiting until July of an election year is simply too little, too late.
We now have some indications of what NEA has been doing with the additional time. To begin with, the union cleverly melded its organizing in support of Obama's latest edu-jobs legislation with organizing for Obama himself in 2012. Though the bill itself has little chance of passage, it does serve the purpose of emphasizing where the President and NEA align, rather than where they differ.
The union devoted the fall to identifying potential Obama activists from among its members in 16 states, presumably those NEA considers to be battleground states. They are: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin. Along with this recruiting, the union's PAC has a "Educators for Obama" web site where volunteers can sign up.
Last week, I posted an item that asked readers for their suggestions on how to reform Michigan schools. It drew a good number of comments, and I'll be posting some of them later this week.
But today I'm offering offering more food for thought, in the form of a memo written by my good friend Tim Bartik, an economist for the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research and a former school board president for Kalamazoo Public Schools. Through his work as an economist and as a school board member, Bartik is one of the best-informed people around on best-practices in education and here's what he has to say:
Who pays a tax is determined not by the laws of Congress but by the law of supply and demand," as Tyler and I say in Modern Principles. In particular, whether demanders or suppliers pay a tax is determined by the elasticities of demand and supply. The more elastic side of the market can better escape a tax, leaving more of it to be paid by the inelastic side. The same thing is true for a subsidy but in reverse, the inelastic side of the market gets the benefit of the subsidy. Virginia Postrel applies the idea to education and education subsidies.
This week's map takes advantage of new migration data recently released by the IRS. It shows, for the year 2009, the net annual income of all migrants to and from each state to other states, as a percentage of that state's aggregate income. (Foreign migration is deliberately excluded.) At the top of the list is Montana, where migrants, in a single year, brought with them a net income totaling more than 1% of the state's entire annual income. At the bottom is Michigan, where migrants leaving the state took with them 0.43% of Michigan's entire annual income.
HELEN F. LADD and EDWARD B. FISKE
NO one seriously disputes the fact that students from disadvantaged households perform less well in school, on average, than their peers from more advantaged backgrounds. But rather than confront this fact of life head-on, our policy makers mistakenly continue to reason that, since they cannot change the backgrounds of students, they should focus on things they can control.
No Child Left Behind, President George W. Bush's signature education law, did this by setting unrealistically high -- and ultimately self-defeating -- expectations for all schools. President Obama's policies have concentrated on trying to make schools more "efficient" through means like judging teachers by their students' test scores or encouraging competition by promoting the creation of charter schools. The proverbial story of the drunk looking for his keys under the lamppost comes to mind.
The Occupy movement has catalyzed rising anxiety over income inequality; we desperately need a similar reminder of the relationship between economic advantage and student performance.
The correlation has been abundantly documented, notably by the famous Coleman Report in 1966. New research by Sean F. Reardon of Stanford University traces the achievement gap between children from high- and low-income families over the last 50 years and finds that it now far exceeds the gap between white and black students.
Data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress show that more than 40 percent of the variation in average reading scores and 46 percent of the variation in average math scores across states is associated with variation in child poverty rates.
International research tells the same story. Results of the 2009 reading tests conducted by the Program for International Student Assessment show that, among 15-year-olds in the United States and the 13 countries whose students outperformed ours, students with lower economic and social status had far lower test scores than their more advantaged counterparts within every country. Can anyone credibly believe that the mediocre overall performance of American students on international tests is unrelated to the fact that one-fifth of American children live in poverty?
Yet federal education policy seems blind to all this. No Child Left Behind required all schools to bring all students to high levels of achievement but took no note of the challenges that disadvantaged students face. The legislation did, to be sure, specify that subgroups -- defined by income, minority status and proficiency in English -- must meet the same achievement standard. But it did so only to make sure that schools did not ignore their disadvantaged students -- not to help them address the challenges they carry with them into the classroom.
So why do presumably well-intentioned policy makers ignore, or deny, the correlations of family background and student achievement?
Some honestly believe that schools are capable of offsetting the effects of poverty. Others want to avoid the impression that they set lower expectations for some groups of students for fear that those expectations will be self-fulfilling. In both cases, simply wanting something to be true does not make it so.
Another rationale for denial is to note that some schools, like the Knowledge Is Power Program charter schools, have managed to "beat the odds." If some schools can succeed, the argument goes, then it is reasonable to expect all schools to. But close scrutiny of charter school performance has shown that many of the success stories have been limited to particular grades or subjects and may be attributable to substantial outside financing or extraordinarily long working hours on the part of teachers. The evidence does not support the view that the few success stories can be scaled up to address the needs of large populations of disadvantaged students.
A final rationale for denying the correlation is more nefarious. As we are now seeing, requiring all schools to meet the same high standards for all students, regardless of family background, will inevitably lead either to large numbers of failing schools or to a dramatic lowering of state standards. Both serve to discredit the public education system and lend support to arguments that the system is failing and needs fundamental change, like privatization.
Given the budget crises at the national and state levels, and the strong political power of conservative groups, a significant effort to reduce poverty or deal with the closely related issue of racial segregation is not in the political cards, at least for now.
So what can be done?
Large bodies of research have shown how poor health and nutrition inhibit child development and learning and, conversely, how high-quality early childhood and preschool education programs can enhance them. We understand the importance of early exposure to rich language on future cognitive development. We know that low-income students experience greater learning loss during the summer when their more privileged peers are enjoying travel and other enriching activities.
Since they can't take on poverty itself, education policy makers should try to provide poor students with the social support and experiences that middle-class students enjoy as a matter of course.
It can be done. In North Carolina, the two-year-old East Durham Children's Initiative is one of many efforts around the country to replicate Geoffrey Canada's well-known successes with the Harlem Children's Zone.
Say Yes to Education in Syracuse, N.Y., supports access to afterschool programs and summer camps and places social workers in schools. In Omaha, Building Bright Futures sponsors school-based health centers and offers mentoring and enrichment services. Citizen Schools, based in Boston, recruits volunteers in seven states to share their interests and skills with middle-school students.
Promise Neighborhoods, an Obama administration effort that gives grants to programs like these, is a welcome first step, but it has been under-financed.
Other countries already pursue such strategies. In Finland, with its famously high-performing schools, schools provide food and free health care for students. Developmental needs are addressed early. Counseling services are abundant.
But in the United States over the past decade, it became fashionable among supporters of the "no excuses" approach to school improvement to accuse anyone raising the poverty issue of letting schools off the hook -- or what Mr. Bush famously called "the soft bigotry of low expectations."
Such accusations may afford the illusion of a moral high ground, but they stand in the way of serious efforts to improve education and, for that matter, go a long way toward explaining why No Child Left Behind has not worked.
Yes, we need to make sure that all children, and particularly disadvantaged children, have access to good schools, as defined by the quality of teachers and principals and of internal policies and practices.
But let's not pretend that family background does not matter and can be overlooked. Let's agree that we know a lot about how to address the ways in which poverty undermines student learning. Whether we choose to face up to that reality is ultimately a moral question.
Helen F. Ladd is a professor of public policy and economics at Duke. Edward B. Fiske, a former education editor of The New York Times, is the author of the "Fiske Guide to Colleges."
The Urban League's proposal to create a Madison Preparatory charter school is, at its heart, a proposal about public education in our community. Although the discussions often boil down to overly simplistic assertions about whether one position or the other is supportive of or hostile toward public education, it is not that simple. What we are facing is a larger and more fundamental question about our values when it comes to the purpose of public education and who it is supposed to serve.Also posted at the Capital Times.
I am voting "yes" because I believe that strong public education for all is the foundation for a strong society. While our schools do a very good job with many students who are white and/or living above the poverty line, the same cannot be said for students of color and/or students living in poverty. The record is most dismal for African American students.
The Madison Prep proposal is born of over 40 years of advocacy for schools that engage and hold high academic expectations for African American and other students of color. That advocacy has produced minor changes in rhetoric without changes in culture, practice, or outcome. Yes, some African American students are succeeding. But for the overwhelming majority, there are two Madison public school systems. The one where the students have a great experience and go on to top colleges, and the one that graduates only 48% of African American males.
The individual stories are heartbreaking, but the numbers underscore that individual cases add up to data that is not in keeping with our self-image as a cutting edge modern community. We ALL play a role in the problem, and we ALL must be part creating a sound, systemic, solution to our failure to educate ALL of our public school students. In the meantime, the African American community cannot wait, and the Madison Prep proposal came from that urgent, dire, need.
Our track record with students and families of color is not improving and, in some cases, is going backward rather than forward as we create more plans and PR campaigns designed to dismiss concerns about academic equality as misunderstandings. To be sure, there are excellent principals, teachers, and staff who do make a difference every day; some African American students excel each year. But overall, when presented with opportunities to change and to find the academic potential in each student, the district has failed to act and has been allowed to do so by the complicit silence of board members and the community at large.
A few turning points from the past year alone:
The single most serious issue this year, however, came in May when MMSD administration was informed that we are a District Identified for Improvement (DIFI) due to test scores for African American students along with students from low income families and those with learning disabilities. This puts Madison on an elite list with Madison (Milwaukee?) and Racine. The superintendent mentioned DIFI status in passing to the board, and the WI State Journal reported on the possible sanctions without using the term DIFI.
- The Urban League - not MMSD administration or the board - pointed out the dismal graduation rates for African American students (48% for males)
- Less than 5% of African American students are college ready.
- AVID/TOPs does a terrific job with underrepresented students IF they can get in. AVID/TOPs serves 134 (2.6%) of MMSD's 4,977 African American secondary students.
- The number of African American students entering AVID/TOPs is lower this year after MMSD administration changed the criteria for participation away from the original focus on students of color, low income, and first generation college students.
- Of almost 300 teachers hired in 2011-12, less than 10 are African American. There are fewer African American teachers in MMSD today than there were five years ago.
- Over 50 African Americans applied for custodian positions since January 1, 2011. 1 was hired; close to 30 custodians were hired in that time.
- 4K - which is presented as a means to address the achievement gap - is predominantly attended by students who are not African American or low-income.
- In June, the board approved a Parent Engagement Coordinator to help the district improve its relations with African American families. That position remains unfilled. The district has engagement coordinators working with Hmong and Latino families.
Whether one agrees or disagrees with NCLB, DIFI status is a serious matter because of the ladder of increasing sanctions that come with poor performance. In an ideal world, the district would have articulated the improvement plan required by DPI over the summer for implementation on the first day of school. Such a plan would include clear action steps, goals, and timelines to improve African American achievement. Such a plan does not exist as of mid-December 2011, and in the most recent discussion it was asserted that the improvement plan is "just paper that doesn't mean much." I would argue that, to the African American community, such a plan would mean a great deal if it was sincerely formulated and implemented.
At the same time, we have been able to come up with task forces and reports - with goals and timelines - that are devoted to Talented and Gifted Programing, Direct Language Instruction, Fine Arts Programing, and Mathematics Education to name a few.
Under the circumstances, it is hard to see why the African American community would believe that the outcomes will improve if they are 'just patient' and 'work within the existing public school structures to make things better.' Perhaps more accurately, I cannot look people in the face and ask them to hope that we will do a better job if they just give up on the vision of a school structure that does what the MMSD has failed to do for the African American community since the advocacy began some 40 years ago.
Join us for an evening with one of the country's most notable figures in public education. Labor lawyer, former President of the United Teachers Federation and current President of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten discusses the challenging terrain of our public education system.334 amsterdam ave at 76th st, new york, ny 10023 | 646.505.4444
Burke, who made headlines recently for pledging $2.5 million to Madison Preparatory Academy, a controversial charter school proposal, plans to run for the seat being vacated by Lucy Mathiak.
Burke also served as president of the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County for nine years and along with the Burke Foundation has donated about $2.6 million to the AVID/TOPS program, which has shown promising results in improving achievement among low-income, minority students.
Burke emphasized closing the district's racial achievement gap as a motivation for her decision to run.
Several others have expressed interest in running for the seat, including Joan Eggert, a Madison schools parent and reading specialist in the McFarland School District, who issued an official announcement last week.
Others who said they are considering a run include parents Jill Jokela and Mark Stokosa. Tom Farley, who ran unsuccessfully in 2010 against James Howard, said Monday he is no longer interested in running and Burke's entry in the race makes him confident in that decision.
December 11, 2011Related: Who Runs the Madison Schools?
Mr. Ed Hughes
Board of Education
Madison Metropolitan School District 545 West Dayton Street
Madison, WI 53713
Dear Mr. Hughes:
This letter is intended to respond to your December 4, 2011 blog post regarding the Madison Preparatory Academy initiative. Specifically, this letter is intended to address what you referred as "a fairly half-hearted argument [advanced by the Urban League] that the state statute authorizing school districts to enter into contracts for non-instrumentality charter schools trumps or pre-empts any language in collective bargaining agreements that restricts school districts along these lines." Continuing on, you wrote the following:I say the argument is half-hearted because no authority is cited in support and itjust isn't much ofan argument. School districts aren't required to authorize non-instrumentality charter schools, and so there is no conflict with state statutesfor a school district to, in effect, agree that it would not do so. Without that kind of a direct conflict, there is no basis for arguing that the CBA language is somehow pre-empted.We respectfully disagree with your assessment. The intent of this letter is to provide you with the authority for this position and to more fully explain the nature of our concern regarding a contract provision that appears to be illegal in this situation and in direct conflict with public policy.
As you are aware, the collective bargaining agreement (the "CBA") between MMSD and MTI Iprovides "that instructional duties where the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction requires that such be performed by a certificated teacher, shall be performed only by 'teachers."' See Article I, Section B.3.a. In addition, "the term 'teacher' refers to anyone in the collective bargaining unit." See Article I, Section B.2. You have previously suggested that "all teachers in MMSD schools-- including non-instrumentality charter schools- must be members of the MTI bargaining unit." As we indicated in our December 3, 2011 correspondence to you, under a non-instrumentality charter, the school board may not be the employer of the charter school's staff. See§ 118.40(7)(a).
Under Wisconsin's charter school law, the MMSD School Board (the "Board") has the exclusive authority to determine whether a school is an instrumentality or not an instrumentality of the school district. See§ 118.40(7)(a). That decisio n is an important decision reserved to the Board alone. The effect of that decision drives whether teachers and staff must be, or cannot be, employees of the Board. The language of the CBA deprives the Board ofthe decision reserved to it under the statute and that language cannot be harmonized to give effect to both the statute and the CBA. Alternatively, the CBA language creates a situation whereby the Board may exercise its statutory authority to approve a non- instrumentality charter, but it must staff the school with school district employees, a result clearly prohibited under the statute. For reasons that will be explained below, in our view, the law trumps the CBA in either of these situations.
Under Wisconsin law, "[a]labor contract may not violate the law." Glendale Professional Policeman's Ass'n v. City ofGlendale, 83 Wis. 2d 90, 102 (Wis. 1978). City ofGlendale addressed the tension that can arise between bargained for provisions in a collective bargaining agreement and statutory language. In City of Glendale, the City argued that a provision dealing with job promotions was unenforceable because it could not be harmonized with statutory language. Specifically, the agreement in question set forth parameters for promoting employees and stated in part that openings "shall be filled by the applicant with the greatest department seniority..." City of Glendale, 83 Wis. 2d at 94. Wisconsin law provided the following:The chiefs shall appoint subordinates subject to approval by the board. Such appointments shall be made by promotion when this can be done with advantage, otherwise from an eligible list provided by examination and approval by the board and kept on file with the clerk.Wis. Stat.§ 62.13(4)(a).
The City contended that "the contract term governing promotions is void and unenforceable because it is contrary to sec. 62.13(4)(a), Stats." City ofGlendale, 83 Wis. 2d at 98. Ultimately, the court ruled against the City based on the following rationale:Although sec. 62.13(4)(a), Stats., requires all subordinates to be appointed by the chief with the approval of the board, it does not, at least expressly, prohibit the chief or the board from exercising the power of promotion of a qualified person according to a set of rules for selecting one among several qualified applicants.The factual scenario in City ofGlendale differs significantly from the present situation. In City of Glendale, the terms of the agreement did not remove the ability of the chief, with the approval of the board, to make promotions. They could still carry out their statutory duties. The agreement language simply set forth parameters that had to be followed when making promotions. Accordingly, the discretion of the chief was limited, but not eliminated. In the present scenario, the discretion of the Board to decide whether a charter school should be an instrumentality or a non-instrumentality has been effectively eliminated by the CBA language.
There is nothing in the CBA that explicitly prohibits the Board from voting for a non-instrumentality charter school. This discretion clearly lies with the Board. Pursuant to state law, instrumentality charter schools are staffed by District teachers. However, non-instrumentality charter schools cannot be staffed by District teachers. See Wis. Stat.§ 118.40. Based on your recent comments, you have taken the position that the Board cannot vote for a non-instrumentality charter school because this would conflict with the work preservation clause of the CBA. Specifically, you wrote that "given the CBA complications, I don't see how the school board can authorize a non-instrumentality Madison Prep to open its doors next fall, and I say that as one who has come to be sympathetic to the proposal." While we appreciate your sympathy, what we would like is your support. Additionally, this position creates at least two direct conflicts with the law.
First, under Wisconsin law, "the school board of the school district in which a charter school is located shall determine whether or not the charter school is an instrumentality of the school district." Wis. Stat. § 118.40(7)(a) (emphasis added.) The Board is required to make this determination. If the Board is precluded from making this decision on December 19"' based on an agreement previously reached with MTI, the Board will be unable to comply with the law. Effectively, the instrumentality/non- instrumentality decision will have been made by the Board and MTI pursuant to the terms and conditions of the CBA. However, MTI has no authority to make this determination, which creates a direct conflict with the law. Furthermore, the Board will be unable to comply with its statutory obligation due to the CBA. Based on your stated concerns regarding the alleged inability to vote for a non-instrumentality charter school, it appears highly unlikely that the Board ever intentionally ceded this level ofauthority to MTI.
Second, if the Board chose to exercise its statutorily granted authority on December 19th and voted for a non-instrumentality charter school, this would not be a violation of the CBA. Nothing in the CBA explicitly prohibits the Board from voting for a non-instrumentality charter school. At that point, to the extent that MTI chose to challenge that decision, and remember that MTI would have to choose to grieve or litigate this issue, MTI would have to try to attack the law, not the decision made by the Board. Pursuant to the law, "[i] f the school board determines that the charter school is not an instrumentality of the school district, the school board may not employ any personnel for the charter school." Wis. Stat.§ 118.40(7)(a) (emphasis added). While it has been suggested that the Board could choose to avoid the legal impasse by voting down the non-instrumentality proposal, doing so would not cure this conflict. This is particularly true if some Board members were to vote against a non-instrumentality option solely based on the CBA. In such a case, the particular Board Member's obligation to make this decision is essentially blocked. Making a decision consistent with an illegal contract provision for the purposes of minimizing the conflict does not make the provision any less illegal. "A labor contract term whereby parties agree to violate the law is void." WERC v. Teamsters Local No. 563, 75 Wis. 2d 602, 612 (Wis. 1977) (citation omitted).
In Wisconsin, "a labor contract term that violates public policy or a statute is void as a matter of law." Board of Education v. WERC, 52 Wis. 2d 625, 635 (Wis. 1971). Wisconsin law demonstrates that there is a public policy that promotes the creation of charter schools. Within that public policy, there is an additional public policy that promotes case-by-case decision making by a school board regarding whether a charter school will be an instrumentality or a non-instrumentality. The work preservation clause in the CBA cannot be harmonized with these underlying public policies and should not stop the creation of Madison Preparatory Academy.
The Madison Prep initiative has put between a rock and a hard place. Instrumentality status lost support because of the costs associated with employing members of MTI. Yet, we are being told that non-instrumentality status will be in conflict with the CBA and therefore cannot be approved. As discussed above, the work preservation clause is irreconcilable with Wisconsin law, and would likely be found void by acourt of law.
Accordingly, I call on you, and the rest of the Board to vote for non- instrumentality status on December 19th. In the words of Langston Hughes, "a dream deferred is a dream denied." Too many children in this district have been denied for far too long. On behalf of Madison children, families and the Boards of the Urban League and Madison Prep, I respectfully request your support.
President & CEO
cc: Dan Nerad, Superintendent
Dylan Pauly, Legal Counsel
MMSD Board ofEducation Members
ULGMand Madison Prep Board Members and Staff
Godfrey & Kahn, S.C.
As schools across California bemoan increasing class sizes, the Alliance Technology and Math Science High School has boosted class size -- on purpose -- to an astonishing 48. The students work at computers most of the school day.
Next door in an identical building containing a different school, digital imaging -- in the form of animation, short films and graphics -- is used for class projects in English, math and science.
At a third school on the same Glassell Park campus, long known as Taylor Yards, high-schoolers get hands-on experience with a working solar panel.
These schools and two others coexist at the Sotomayor Learning Academies, which opened this fall under a Los Angeles school district policy called Public School Choice. The 2009 initiative, the first of its kind in the nation, has allowed groups from inside and outside the Los Angeles Unified School District to compete for the right to run dozens of new or low-performing schools.
Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School, here.
As a fledgling voice of reform in higher education, Salman Khan is an oddity. He cannot name any higher education accrediting agencies off the top of his head. He advocates for competency-based credentialing, but has never heard of Western Governors University. He is capable of talking on the phone for a full hour without using the word "disruptive" once. Until recently, he was an analyst for a hedge fund.
Here is what Khan does know: algebra, statistics, trigonometry, calculus, computer science, biology, chemistry, astronomy, physics, economics, and finance -- well enough, at least, to demonstrate the concepts via brief video tutorials on Khan Academy, his free learning website. What began in 2006 as an attempt to tutor his young cousin from afar has evolved into a 2,700-video library with millions of monthly visitors.
Many have lauded Khan's natural skill as a teacher. Khan's charmingly unpolished home recordings form the public face of the organization and provide a peg for media narratives about online learning and the YouTube-ification of the textbook in an era where the rising prices and demand for higher education has collided with the Internet's culture of free.
The public is in a foul mood over increasing college costs and student debt burdens. Talk of a "higher education bubble" is common on the contrarian right, while the Occupy Wall Street crowd is calling for a strike in which in which ex-students refuse to pay off their loans.
This week, President Barack Obama held a summit with a dozen higher-education leaders "to discuss rising college costs and strategies to reduce these costs while improving quality." The administration plans to introduce some policy proposals in the run-up to the presidential campaign.
Any serious policy reform has to start by considering a heretical idea: Federal subsidies intended to make college more affordable may have encouraged rapidly rising tuitions.
It's not as crazy as it might sound.
What does the Hillsborough County, Fla., school district have that Milwaukee Public Schools doesn't? What about Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools in North Carolina?
Much better overall scores in reading and math, for one thing. They were at the top of the list of 21 urban school districts in results released last week as part of the National Assessment of Education Progress, or NAEP. Milwaukee was near the bottom.
But here's something else Hillsborough County - which is the Tampa school district - has: Among its 193,000 students, 57% are from low-income homes. For Charlotte-Mecklenburg, the percentage of low-income students among its 136,000 students is 52%.
For MPS, with 80,000-plus students, the low-income rate is 83%.
Each of the four urban districts that scored the best in fourth-grade reading had a low-income rate of 61% or less. Among the four with the worst results, MPS was the lowest with its 83% rate. Detroit, with the worst scores, was listed in the NAEP report at 87%, Cleveland at 100%, and Fresno, Calif., at 93%.
Two other things:
Amber Dias couldn't be sure what was wrong with her little boy.
Chase was a bright, loving 2 1/2-year-old. But he didn't talk much and rarely responded to his own name. He hated crowds and had a strange fascination with the underside of the family tractor.
Searching the Internet, Amber found stories about other children like Chase -- on websites devoted to autism.
"He wasn't the kid rocking in the corner, but it was just enough to scare me," recalled Dias, who lives with her husband and three children on a dairy farm in the Central Valley town of Kingsburg.
She took Chase to a psychologist in Los Angeles, who said the boy indeed had autism and urged the family to seek immediate treatment.
The budget signed by Gov. Scott Walker makes some of the biggest cuts in the nation to education even as it makes one of the largest spending increases in the country in health care for the poor, two new reports show.Related: Wisconsin's debt in the top 10 amongst US States.
At the same time, Wisconsin has avoided large tax increases and ranks more toward the middle of the pack when looking at cuts to schools over the past four years and what the overall education spending in the state is.
Together, the new reports highlight a trend in Wisconsin - the priorities of holding down taxes and paying for rapidly growing Medicaid health care programs are squeezing school funding.
"You're going to see everything else in the budget under stress as long as Medicaid is growing rapidly, at least more rapidly than tax revenues," said Todd Berry, president of the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance.
Walker and Republican lawmakers closed a $3 billion budget gap over two years by relying on cuts to schools and local governments rather than tax increases. Democrats decried the cuts as harmful to students and local services, but the governor said he had protected those services by allowing local governments to find savings from union employees' benefits.
A survey this month by the nonpartisan National Governors Association and the National Association of State Budget Officers showed that the budget as passed by Walker and GOP lawmakers made the fifth-largest cuts to state funding for education in the nation at $409 million, with Wisconsin topped only by the much larger states of New York, California, Pennsylvania and Florida.
Gov. Bobby Jindal continued his push for overhauling the state's public education system, asking a handful of lawmakers and some members of the state's chief school board for their input Friday. Jindal, who has targeted "education reform" as his chief agenda item for his second term, met with several veteran and rookie lawmakers and Board of Elementary and Secondary Education members behind closed doors at the Governor's Mansion for 90 minutes to get their thoughts on potential programs and legislation.
"We are open to listening to people's ideas," Jindal told reporters after the meeting. "But we will not tolerate those who defend the status quo and (want to) keep doing what we have been doing and expect different results.
And no matter which way the Dec. 19 vote goes, there's no way to know now whether the school will be entirely effective.Two School Board seats will be on the Spring, 2012 ballot. They are currently occupied by Lucy Mathiak, who is not running again and Arlene Silveira. I suspect the outcome of this vote will drive new candidates, and perhaps, even recalls.
"This is the most difficult decision I will ever make on the School Board," said Marj Passman, who plans to vote against the proposal. "It has the potential for polarizing our community, and that's the last thing I want to happen."
The vote comes more than a year after the charter was proposed and in the wake of a School District report outlining its opposition to Madison Prep. The school would violate the district's contract with its teachers and preclude sufficient oversight of the $17.5 million in district funds the school would receive over five years, the report said.
District opposition likely will lead the board to reject the proposal, said School Board president James Howard.
"I don't see how it can pass," said Howard. He and Lucy Mathiak are the only two board members who said they will vote to approve the school.
Urban League of Greater Madison president Kaleem Caire, the lead proponent of the charter, acknowledged he doesn't have the votes. But he's engaged in a full-court press to generate public support for the proposal.
"We have a moral obligation to do whatever it takes to support our children and special interest of adults should not come before that," Caire said last week.
In research organizations that have been "captured" by vested interests, the scholars who receive the most attention, praise, and reward are not those who conduct the most accurate or highest quality research, but those who produce results that best advance the interests of the group. Those who produce results that do not advance the interests of the group may be shunned and ostracized, even if their work is well-done and accurate.
The prevailing view among the vested interests in education does not oppose all standardized testing; it opposes testing with consequences based on the results that is also "externally administered"--i.e., testing that can be used to make judgments of educators but is out of educators' direct control. The external entity may be a higher level of government, such as the state in the case of state graduation exams, or a non-governmental entity, such as the College Board or ACT in the case of college entrance exams.
One can easily spot the moment vested interests "captured" the National Research Council's Board on Testing and Assessment (BOTA). BOTA was headed in the 1980s by a scholar with little background or expertise in testing (Wise, 1998). Perhaps not knowing who to trust at first, she put her full faith, and that of the NRC, behind the anti-high-stakes testing point of view that had come to dominate graduate schools of education. Proof of that conversion came when the NRC accepted a challenge from the U.S. Department of Labor to evaluate the predictive validity of the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB) for use in unemployment centers throughout the country.
What inspired you to start The Concord Review?
Diane Ravitch, an American historian of education, wrote a col- umn in The New York Times in 1985 about the ignorance of his- tory among 17-year-olds in the United States, based on a study of 7,000 students. As a history teacher myself at the time, I was interested to see that what concerned me was a national problem, and I began to think about these issues. It occurred to me that if I had one or two very good students writing his- tory papers for me and perhaps my colleagues had one or two, then in 20,000 United States high schools (and more overseas) there must be a large number of high school students doing exemplary history research papers. So in1987, I established The Concord Review to provide a journal for such good work in his- tory. I sent a four-page brochure calling for papers to every high school in the United States, 3,500 high schools in Canada, and 1,500 schools overseas. The papers started coming in, and in the fall of 1988, I was able to publish the first issue of The Concord Review. Since then, we have published 89 issues.
Editor's Note: Once again, I have to thank NAS for providing the opportunity for meeting contributor Will Fitzhugh. Will has an AB in English Literature and Ed.M. in Guidance from Harvard. After a number of years in industry, he taught high school for ten years in Concord, Massachusetts. In 1987 he started The Concord Review, the only journal in the world for the academic papers of secondary students, which has now published 978 history essays from 44 states and 38 other countries. These essays truly are examples of outstanding writing and scholarship. Most of us who teach at the college level wish all high school teachers would heed Will's advice.
What follows below is a speech given at the 2010 meeting of NACAC, prefaced by his introductory note.
by Will Fitzhugh
At the 2010 Conference of the National Association of College Admissions Counselors, the primary organization for admissions professionals, I spoke about the way the emphasis on little 500-word personal "college" essays erodes students' chances to learn to do actual academic term papers at least once before they get to college.
"The College Essay"
I propose a thought experiment for what it may be worth:
What if we change the name of our organization from the National Association of College Admissions Counselors to: The National Association of College Completion Counselors?
Note that the new name is more comprehensive, as Completion presupposes Admission, but, as is all too obvious these days, Admission cannot assume Completion.
You are all at least as aware as I am of the numbers about the need for academic remediation in Higher Education and the numbers of dropouts from college, but I will review a couple of them. Tony Wagner of Harvard reports that in general, including community colleges, half of college freshman do not return for a second year, and a huge percentage of our high school graduates take six years or more to complete a Bachelor's degree, and four years or more to complete an Associate's degree.
Students who need remediation in basic academic skills are more likely to drop out, and the more remedial courses they have to take, the more likely they are to drop out.
The California State College System reported at a conference last Fall that 47% of their Freshman students are in remedial reading courses.
Does anybody read any more?
We may assume that these students have had 12 years of reading in school already, but they still can't read well enough to do college work, at least by California standards.
Reading is not calculus or chemistry, it is just a basic academic skill in which we expect that the schools have offered practice for 12 years.
Now, a youngster can start to play Pop Warner football at age 6. By graduation from high school, he could have had 12 years of practice at the basic skills of football. Imagine athletes reporting for a college football team, only to be told that they need a year of remedial blocking and tackling practice before they can be allowed to play. It seems unlikely that they would not have learned basic blocking and tackling skills in their previous 12 years of playing football.
I am not just talking about improvement here. Of course, students in college can learn to read more difficult material in new academic subjects. And of course college athletes can get better at all the skills needed for success in their sports.
But we are talking about basic, entry-level academic skills. 47% of freshmen in the California State College System don't have them in reading, after 12 years of practice in school.
When I went into the Army in 1960, I had never fired a rifle before, but in a week or two on the range in Basic Training, I was able to meet the standard for "Sharpshooter." I missed "Expert" by one target.
I am convinced that if I had had 12 years of practice with my M-1 Garand, I really could have scored "Expert"--perhaps even by the higher standards of the U.S. Marine Corps.
I have to confess I am stunned that so many of our high school students, having been awarded one of our high school diplomas, and having been accepted at one of our colleges, are found [by ACT] to be unable to read well enough to do college work.
The Diploma to Nowhere report of the Strong American Schools project said that more than one million of our high school graduates are now in remedial courses each year when they get to college.
It also notes that these students, having satisfied our requirements for the high school diploma, and graduated--having applied to college and been accepted--are told when they get there, that they can't make the grade without perhaps an additional year of work on their academic fundamentals. Naturally this experience is surprising to them, given that they satisfied our requirements for graduation and admission to college, and embarrassing, humiliating and discouraging, as well.
As you may know, my particular interest since 1987 has been in student history research papers at the high school level. I have published 978 essays by secondary students from 44 states and 38 other countries over the last 25 years.
Some of the students who wrote the required Extended Essays for the IB Diploma and were published in The Concord Review, and some of our other authors as well, have told me that in their freshman dorms they are often mobbed by their peers who are facing a serious term paper for the first time and have no idea how to do one.
It is absurd to contemplate, but imagine a well-prepared college basketball player being mobbed for help by his peers who had never been taught to dribble, pass, or shoot in high school.
If even colleges like Harvard and Stanford require all their Freshmen to take a year of expository writing, that may not exactly be remedial writing, but I would argue that a student who has completed an Extended Essay for the International Baccalaureate Diploma, and a student who has published a 12,000-word paper on Irish Nationalism or a 15,000-word paper on the Soviet-Afghan War for The Concord Review, should perhaps be allowed to skip that year of remedial writing. The author of the Soviet-Afghan War paper, from Georgia, is now at Christ Church College, Oxford, where I believe he did not have to spend a year in an expository writing course, and the author of the Irish Nationalism paper is at Princeton, where she may very well have been asked to spend a year in such a course.
If so many of our students need to learn how to do academic writing (not to mention how to read), what are they spending time on in high school?
I believe that writing is the most dumbed-down activity we now have in our schools. The AP program includes no research paper, only responses to document-based questions, and most high school Social Studies departments leave academic writing tasks to the English Department.
Now, in general, English Departments favor personal and creative writing and the five-paragraph essay, but college admission requirements have given them an additional task on which they are working with students. Teaching writing takes time, not only in preparing and monitoring students, but more especially in reading what students have written and offering corrections and advice. Time for one kind of writing necessarily means less time for another kind.
Personal and creative writing and the five-paragraph essay have already taken a lot of the time of English teachers and their students, but as college admissions officers ask for the 500-word personal essay, time has to be given to teaching for that.
While high school English departments work with their students on the 500-word personal essay, they do not have the time to give to serious term papers, so they don't do them, and I believe that is why so many students arrive in our colleges in need of a one-year course on the expository writing they didn't get a chance to do in school.
Lots of the public high school students whose work I publish simply do their papers as independent studies, as there is no place for serious academic writing like that in the curriculum.
I would suggest that college admissions officers ask for an academic research paper from applicants in place of the short little personal essay; while it would be more work for them, it would make it more likely that students would arrive ready for college work.
Making sure that our high school students arrive in college able to manage college-level nonfiction reading and academic expository writing might really help us earn our new credential as professionals who work not just to help students get accepted at college, but to help them complete college as well.
Will Fitzhugh's website is www.tcr.org, and he can be reached at Fitzhugh@tcr.org
Every year, the education magazine Phi Delta Kappan hires the Gallup Organization to survey American opinion on the public schools. Though Gallup conducts the poll, education grandees selected by the editors of the Kappan write the questions. In 2007 the poll asked, "Will the current emphasis on standardized tests encourage teachers to 'teach to the tests,' that is, concentrate on teaching their students to pass the tests rather than teaching the subject, or don't you think it will have this effect?"
The key to the question, of course, is the "rather than"--the assumption by many critics that test preparation and good teaching are mutually exclusive. In their hands, "teach to the test" has become an epithet. The very existence of content standards linked to standardized tests, in this view, narrows the curriculum and restricts the creativity of teachers--which of course it does, in the sense that teachers in standards-based systems cannot organize their instructional time in any fashion they prefer.
A more subtle critique is that teaching to the test can be good or bad. If curricula are carefully developed by educators and the test is written with curricula in mind, then teaching to the test means teaching students the knowledge and skills we agree they ought to learn--exactly what our teachers are legally and ethically obligated to do.
In an earlier comment thread someone asked whether Asian-American college performance is commensurate with their SAT scores. If A-A SAT scores are artificially elevated by cramming then one might expect it to under-predict college GPA. (On the other hand, if Asians are more conscientious and hard working overall, one might* expect both SAT scores and college GPA to be elevated relative to other groups.) This data from the College Board shows that the validity of SAT as a predictor of college GPA is about the same for whites and Asians.
*Regarding cramming, I have yet to see any data which shows that large groups of people can significantly elevate their SAT scores through preparation. Test prep companies will claim this is possible, but detailed studies by ETS suggest otherwise. In our U Oregon data set (covering all students at the university over a 5 year period) it is quite rare to see a change of 1 population SD between max and average score for individual students who take the SAT multiple times.
(Click for larger version. FYGPA = Freshman Year GPA.)
There's a very disturbing tendency among academics -- though many people in policy fights do it -- to dodge substantive debate by declaring, basically, "the other side is full of garbage so just ignore them." You probably see it most glaringly about climate change -- no one credible disagrees with Al Gore! -- but I see it far too frequently regarding the possibility that government student aid, the bulk of which comes from Washington, is a significant factor behind college price inflation.
Today, we are treated to this lame dodge in a letter to the Washington Post from Terry Hartle, Senior Vice President at the American Council on Education, arguably the most powerful of Ivory Tower advocacy groups. He writes:
Seeing that the district is quietly working towards presenting a plan to build yet another elementary school (to the tune of $18-22M), we felt it was long overdue to take a look at our debt picture. That is what people do before planning big purchase, right????
Pick up any newspaper or magazine and it won't be long before you see what folks all over the country are doing during this 3 year (and counting) downturn in the economy. They're paying down their debt and not creating new debt. Sounds like a solid plan...right? Nope, at least not in Sun Prairie. The FTT Committee will be reviewing APL population estimates this coming Monday, and that will be the first shot fired in a battle to build an 8th elementary school. APL estimates are ALWAYS a prelude to "time to build".
A technology shift is underway. The PC's promise to transform how learning happens in the classroom is being realized by Apple's iPad. Students and teachers in grade school through higher education are using the iPad to augment their lessons or to replace textbooks.Technology's role in schools continues to be a worthwhile discussion topic.
The iPad is especially helpful for students with special needs. Its simplified touch interface and accessibility features help these children learn more independently; aftermarket accessories assist in making the iPad more classroom-friendly.
In March, I wrote about how my mother learned how to use her iPad for basic stuff-like checking e-mail and browsing the Web-without ever having used a PC in her life. Students at all grade levels are finding it just as easy to use.
Jennifer Kohn's third grade class at Millstone Elementary School in Millstone, NJ, mastered the iPad with minimal training. For the most part, the students didn't need to be taught how to use their apps, Kohn says.
It is simply time to be honest. If you are sincerely concerned about the educational problems in Milwaukee and want to see real solutions implemented, then it is time to take a look at the truth. The desire to be politically correct for some and the reluctance to accept reality for others is what has delayed real progress in Milwaukee.
So, here it is point blank:
Wisconsin - not just Milwaukee - has a problem educating African-American youths.
According to the recent test scores reported by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the achievement gap continues to widen. In other words, white students continue to outperform minority students, especially African-Americans. In fact, Wisconsin has the largest white-black achievement gap in the nation and continues to be the only state with a gap well above the national average.
Basically, white students have an 86% high school graduation rate, while African-American students graduate at a rate of 49%. So, quality education is not difficult to find in Wisconsin, but for some reason African-American youths are not getting it.
Flor Perez, a 1995 Santa Cruz High graduate, sits inside the library of her alma mater with her 15-year-old son Alex as the two plot his path to college.
As part of a preparedness course for ninth-graders and their families, the Perezes match high school course offerings with entry requirements for four-year universities. They want to make sure Alex knows the right classes to take now to get into college after earning his diploma.
Flor wished there had been a similar program when she was growing up. Now in her 30s and expecting her third child, she's majoring in health science and nursing at San Jose State University while raising Alex and his younger brother.
"We had to see a counselor and make our own appointment," she said of her time in high school. "This workshop actually includes the parents. It allows us to make sure our kids are on track."
Kaleem Caire, via email:
December 10, 2011Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school, here.
Dear Friends & Colleagues.
For the last 16 months, we have been on an arduous journey to develop a public school that would effectively address the educational needs of children who have under-performed or failed to succeed in Madison's public schools for at least the last 40 years. If you have followed the news stories, it's not hard to see how many mountains have been erected in our way during the process.
Some days, it has felt like we're desperately looking at our children standing dangerously close to the edge of a cliff, some already fallen over while others dangling by their thumbs waiting to be rescued; but before we can get close enough to save them, we have to walk across one million razor blades and through thousands of rose bushes with our bare feet. As we make our way to them and get closer, the razor blades get sharper and the rose bushes grow more dense.
Fortunately, our Board members and team at the Urban League and Madison Preparatory Academy, and the scores of supporters who've been plowing through the fields with us for the last year believe that our children's education, their emotional, social and personal development, and their futures are far more important than any pain we might endure.
Our proposal for Madison Prep has certainly touched a nerve in Madison. But why? When we launched our efforts on the steps of West High School on August 29, 2010, we thought Madison and its school officials would heartily embrace Madison Prep.We thought they would see the school as:
(1) a promising solution to the racial achievement gap that has persisted in our city for at least 40 years;
(2) a learning laboratory for teachers and administrators who admittedly need new strategies for addressing the growing rate of underachievement, poverty and parental disengagement in our schools, and
(3) a clear sign to communities of color and the broader Greater Madison community that it was prepared to do whatever it takes to help move children forward - children for whom failure has become too commonplace and tolerated in our capital city.
Initially, the majority of Board of Education members told us they liked the idea and at the time, had no problems with us establishing Madison Prep as a non-instrumentality - and therefore, non-union, public school. At the same time, all of them asked us for help and advice on how to eliminate the achievement gap, more effectively engage parents and stimulate parent involvement, and better serve children and families of color.
Then, over the next several months as the political climate and collective bargaining in the state changed and opponents to charter schools and Madison Prep ramped up their misinformation and personal attack campaign, the focus on Madison Prep got mired in these issues.
The concern of whether or not a single-gender school would be legal under state and federal law was raised. We answered that both with a legal briefing and by modifying our proposal to establish a common girls school now rather than two years from now.
The concern of budget was raised and how much the school would cost the school district. We answered that through a $2.5 million private gift to lower the per pupil request to the district and by modifying our budget proposal to ensure Madison Prep would be as close to cost-neutral as possible. The District Administration first said they would support the school if it didn't cost the District more than $5 million above what it initially said it could spend; Madison Prep will only cost them $2.7 million.
Board of Education members also asked in March 2011 if we would consider establishing Madison Prep as an instrumentality of MMSD, where all of the staff would be employed by the district and be members of the teacher's union. We decided to work towards doing this, so long as Madison Prep could retain autonomy of governance, management and budget. Significant progress was made until the last day of negotiations when MMSD's administration informed us that they would present a counter-budget to ours in their analysis of our proposal that factored in personnel costs for an existing school versus establishing a modest budget more common to new charter schools.
We expressed our disagreement with the administration and requested that they stick with our budget for teacher salaries, which was set using MMSD's teacher salary scale for a teacher with 7 years experience and a masters degree and bench-marked against several successful charter schools. Nevertheless, MMSD argued that they were going to use the average years of experience of teachers in the district, which is 14 years with a master's degree. This drove up the costs significantly, taking teacher salaries from $47,000 to $80,000 per year and benefits from $13,500 to $25,000 per year per teacher. The administration's budget plan therefore made starting Madison Prep as an instrumentality impossible.
To resolve the issue, the Urban League and Board of Madison Prep met in November to consider the options. In doing so, we consulted with every member of MMSD's Board of Education. We also talked with parents, stakeholders and other community members as well. It was then decided that we would pursue Madison Prep as a non-instrumentality of the school district because we simply believe that our children cannot and should not have to wait.
Now, Board of Education members are saying that Madison Prep should be implemented in "a more familiar, Madison Way", as a "private school", and that we should not have autonomy even though state laws and MMSD's own charter school policy expressly allow for non-instrumentality schools to exist. There are presently more than 20 such schools in Wisconsin.
As the mountains keep growing, the goal posts keep moving, and the razor blades and rose bushes are replenished with each step we take, we are forced to ask the question: Why has this effort, which has been more inclusive, transparent and well-planned, been made so complicated? Why have the barriers been erected when our proposal is specifically focused on what Madison needs, a school designed to eliminate the achievement gap, increase parent engagement and prepare young people for college who might not otherwise get there? Why does liberal Madison, which prides itself on racial tolerance and opposition to bigotry, have such a difficult time empowering and including people of color, particularly African Americans?
As the member of a Black family that has been in Madison since 1908, I wonder aloud why there are fewer black-owned businesses in Madison today than there were 25 years ago? There are only two known black-owned businesses with 10 or more employees in Dane County. Two!
Why can I walk into 90 percent of businesses in Madison in 2011 and struggle to find Black professionals, managers and executives or look at the boards of local companies and not see anyone who looks like me?
How should we respond when Board of Education members tell us they can't vote for Madison Prep while knowing that they have no other solutions in place to address the issues our children face? How can they say they have the answers and develop plans for our children without consulting and including us in the process? How can they have 51 black applicants for teaching positions and hire only one, and then claim that they can't find any black people to apply for jobs? How can they say, "We need more conversations" about the education of our children when we've been talking for four decades?
I have to ask the question, as uncomfortable as it may be for some to hear, "Would we have to work this hard and endure so much resistance if just 48% of white children in Madison's public schools were graduating, only 1% of white high school seniors were academically ready for college, and nearly 50% of white males between the ages of 25-29 were incarcerated, on probation or under some form of court supervision?
Is this 2011 or 1960? Should the black community, which has been in Madison for more than 100 years, not expect more?
How will the Board of Education's vote on December 19th help our children move forward? How will their decision impact systemic reform and seed strategies that show promise in improving on the following?
Half of Black and Latino children are not completing high school. Just 59% of Black and 61% of Latino students graduated on-time in 2008-09. One year later, in 2009-10, the graduation rate declined to 48% of Black and 56% of Latino students compared to 89% of white students. We are going backwards, not forwards. (Source: MMSD 2010, 2011)
Black and Latino children are not ready for college. According to makers of the ACT college entrance exam, just 20% of Madison's 378 Black seniors and 37% of 191 Latino seniors in MMSD in 2009-10 completed the ACT. Only 7% of Black and 18% of Latino seniors completing test showed they had the knowledge and skills necessary to be "ready for college". Among all MMSD seniors (those completing and not completing the test), just 1% of Black and 7% of Latino seniors were college ready
Too few Black and Latino graduates are planning to go to college. Of the 159 Latino and 288 Black students that actually graduated and received their diplomas in 2009-10, just 28% of Black and 21% of Latino students planned to attend a four-year college compared to 53% of White students. While another 25% of Black and 33% of graduates planned to attend a two-year college or vocation program (compared to 17% of White students), almost half of all of all Black and Latino graduates had no plans for continuing their education beyond high school compared to 27% of White students. (Source: DPI 2011)
Half of Black males in their formative adult years are a part of the criminal justice system. Dane County has the highest incarceration rate among young Black men in the United States: 47% between the ages of 25-29 are incarcerated, on probation or under some form of court supervision. The incarceration phenomena starts early. In 2009-10, Black youth comprised 62% of all young people held in Wisconsin's correctional system. Of the 437 total inmates held, 89% were between the ages of 15-17. In Dane County, in which Madison is situated, 49% of 549 young people held in detention by the County in 2010 were Black males, 26% were white males, 12% were black females, 6% were white females and 6% were Latino males and the average age of young people detained was 15. Additionally, Black youth comprised 54% of all 888 young people referred to the Juvenile Court System. White students comprised 31% of all referrals and Latino comprised 6%.
More importantly, will the Board of Education demonstrate the type of courage it took our elders and ancestors to challenge and change laws and contracts that enabled Jim Crow, prohibited civil rights, fair employment and Women's right to vote, and made it hard for some groups to escape the permanence of America's underclass? We know this is not an easy vote, and we appreciate their struggle, but there is a difference between what is right and what is politically convenient.
Will the Board have the courage to look in the faces of Black and Latino families in the audience, who have been waiting for solutions for so long, and tell them with their vote that they must wait that much longer?
We hope our Board of Education members recognize and utilize the tremendous power they have to give our children a hand-up. We hope they hear the collective force and harmony of our pleas, engage with our pain and optimism, and do whatever it takes to ensure that the proposal we have put before them, which comes with exceptional input and widespread support, is approved on December 19, 2011.
Madison Prep is a solution we can learn from and will benefit the hundreds of young men and women who will eventually attend.
If not Madison Prep, then what? If not now, then when?
SCHOOL BOARD VOTE ON MADISON PREP
Monday, December 19, 2011 at 5:00pm
Madison Metropolitan School District
Doyle Administration Building Auditorium
545 West Dayton Street
Madison, WI 53703
Contact: Laura DeRoche Perez, Lderoche@ulgm.org
CLICK HERE TO RSVP: TELL US YOU'LL BE THERE
Write the School Board and Tell Them to "Say 'Yes', to Madison Prep!"
Madison Prep 2012!
President & CEO
Urban League of Greater Madison
OUR RESPONSE TO MMSD'S NEW CONCERNS
Autonomy: MMSD now says they are concerned that Madison Prep will not be accountable to the public for the education it provides students and the resources it receives. Yet, they don't specify what they mean by "accountability." We would like to know how accountability works in MMSD and how this is producing high achievement among the children it serves. Further, we would like to know why Madison Prep is being treated differently than the 30 early childhood centers that are participating in the district's 4 year old kindergarten program. They all operate similar to non-instrumentality schools, have their own governing boards, operate via a renewable contract, can hire their own teachers "at their discretion" and make their own policy decisions, and have little to no oversight by the MMSD Board of Education. All 30 do not employ union teachers. Accountability in the case of 4K sites is governed by "the contract." MMSD Board members should be aware that, as with their approval of Badger Rock Middle School, the contract is supposed to be developed "after" the concept is approved on December 19. In essence, this conversation is occurring to soon, if we keep with current district practices.
Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA): MMSD and Madison Teachers, Incorporated have rejected our attorney's reading of ACT 65, which could provide a path to approval of Madison Prep without violating the CBA. Also, MTI and MMSD could approve Madison Prep per state law and decide not to pursue litigation, if they so desired. There are still avenues to pursue here and we hope MMSD's Board of Education will consider all of them before making their final decision.
The economic divide is not confined to Wall Street and Main Street.
Within the world of private higher education, there are a handful of college presidents who earn considerably more than professors on their campuses, or gobble up a notable share of their institutions' budgetary pie, a Chronicle analysis has found. There are also significant pay gaps among presidents, 36 of whom earned more than $1-million in 2009.
A typical private-college leader made 3.7 times as much as the average full professor on his or her campus in 2009, but six presidents reviewed by The Chronicle made more than 10 times as much as their faculty colleagues, according to national faculty-salary data and the most-recent available federal-tax filings. While most colleges spent less than $5 on presidential pay for every $1,000 of their budgets, 14 of the institutions The Chronicle reviewed spent two times that.
We were not able to get to all the audience questions at the SchoolBook community event in Brooklyn on Thursday night. Here is a sampling of 10 of them. Keep the conversation going on your school pages and with SchoolBook editors. We will do our best to get some answers for you.
Meanwhile, the video above was shown during the event at the Pratt Institute. See what the students have to say about the choice process.
What happens to students that schools don't "compete" for?
Why do all the kids have to be tutored to get into the specialized schools?
I just moved to Harlem and found out I'm in District 5 with almost no choice for middle schools. Why is this?
Why were the neighborhood schools discontinued? MetroCards and buses are very expensive.
Why don't you see which principals have success and copy their idea and fire the incompetent ones?
If 2010 was the year of the bombshell in research in the three "major areas" of market-based education reform - charter schools, performance pay, and value-added in evaluations - then 2011 was the year of the slow, sustained march.
Last year, the landmark Race to the Top program was accompanied by a set of extremely consequential research reports, ranging from the policy-related importance of the first experimental study of teacher-level performance pay (the POINT program in Nashville) and the preliminary report of the $45 million Measures of Effective Teaching project, to the political controversy of the Los Angeles Times' release of teachers' scores from their commissioned analysis of Los Angeles testing data.
In 2011, on the other hand, as new schools opened and states and districts went about the hard work of designing and implementing new evaluations compensation systems, the research almost seemed to adapt to the situation. There were few (if any) "milestones," but rather a steady flow of papers and reports focused on the finer-grained details of actual policy.*
A nice analytic giblet from a Times profile of new Nobel economists Thomas Sargent and Christopher Sims:Because of his father's College Board connections, Mr. Sims got hold of an old SAT exam, which he and Mr. Willoughby used to conduct a statistical analysis. They found that on multiple-choice questions in English and social studies, the "longer answers tended to be correct." In math, they determined that the number that was "closest to all of the other numerical choices" was probably the right one.
Newt Gingrich has a penchant for saying provocative and often downright crazy things. When the former House Speaker gave a lecture at Harvard last month, calling child labor laws "truly stupid" and suggesting that low-income kids should be required to do some manual labor in their schools, it was a classic Gingrich proposal: over-the-top, totally tone-deaf, and way too broad in scope. But it also was not entirely wrong. Although his specifics are often bewildering, it's hard to deny that Gingrich has a knack for spotting trends in education.
In 1994, when Gingrich was the leader of House Republicans, he suggested a radical welfare reform: to break the cycle of poverty, take poor kids away from their unwed teen mothers and put them in state-run facilities. His orphanage idea was designed to free up single parents for job training while simultaneously instilling better work habits in their children. Not surprisingly, the proposal quickly died on Capitol Hill. But in the 17 years since then, hundreds of schools have sprung up across the country that are designed to get students to spend more time on school-related activities and less time exposed to adverse influences in their neighborhoods and, yes, sometimes in their homes. These schools also have clear nonacademic curricula that focus on behavior, self-management and life skills. The goal, as described by journalist David Whitman, the current speechwriter for Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, in Sweating the Small Stuff: Inner-City Schools and the New Paternalism, is to use school as an anti-poverty tool by deliberately fostering a strong work ethic in students.
Madison Metropolitan School District was provided an award from the Microsoft Cy Pres settlement in the Fall of 2009. Since that time the district has utilized many of these funds to prorate projects across the district in order to free up budgeted funds and to provide for more flexibility. The plan and process for these funds liquidates the General Purpose portion of the Microsoft Cy Pres funds, provides an equitable allocation per pupil to each school, and is aimed at increasing the amount of technology within our schools.I found the device distribution to be quite interesting. The iPad revolution is well underway. Technology's role in schools continues to be a worthwhile discussion topic.
The total allocation remaining from Cy Pres revenues totals $2,755,463.11, which was the target for the technology acquisition plan. Two things happened prior to allocating funds to schools: first was to hold back $442,000 for the future purchase of iPads for our schools (at $479 per iPad this equates to a 923 iPads), and second was to hold back $200,000 necessary for increased server capacity to deal with the increase in different types of technology.
The final step was to allocate the remaining funding ($2,113,463.11) out to the schools on a per pupil basis. This was calculated at $85.09 per pupil across all schools within the district.
John Matthews, Executive Director of Madison Teachers, Inc., via email:
The Urban League proposes that Madison Prep be operated as a non-instrumentality of the Madison Metropolitan School District. The Urban League's proposal is unacceptable to Madison Teachers, because it would effectively eliminate supervision and accountability of the school to the Madison School Board regarding the expenditure of millions of dollars in taxpayer money, and because it would also violate long-standing terms and conditions of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the Madison Metropolitan School District and MTI.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school, here.
The Urban League proposes to use District funds to hire non-District teaching staff at lower salaries and benefits than called for in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. It was recently stated in a meeting between representatives of Madison Prep, the School District and MTI that the Urban League plans to hire young African-American males and asks that MTI and the District enable them to pay the teachers they hire less than their counterparts, who are employed by the District. MTI cannot agree to enable that. We believe that such is discriminatory, based both on race and gender. The MTI/MMSD Contract calls for teachers to be compensated based upon their educational achievement and their years of service. MTI and MMSD agreed in the early 1970's that the District would not enable such undermining of employment standards. The costing of the Contract salary placement was explained by both Superintendent Nerad and John Matthews. Those explanations were ignored by the Urban League in their budgeting, causing a shortfall in the proposed operational budget, according to Superintendent Nerad.
It is also distasteful to MTI that the Urban League proposes to NOT ADDITIONALLY pay their proposed new hires for working a longer day and a longer school year. Most employees in the United States receive overtime pay when working longer hours. The Urban League proposes NO additional compensation for employees working longer hours, or for the 10 additional school days in their plan.
Finally, the Urban League is incorrect in asserting that MTI and the District could modify the MMSD/MTI Contract without triggering Act 10, Governor Walker's draconian attack on teachers and other public employees. The Contract would be destroyed if MTI and the District agreed to amend it. Such is caused by Walker's Law, Act 10. MTI is not willing to inflict the devastating effects of Act 10 on its members. The Urban League states that Walker's Act 65 would enable the Contract to be amended without the horrible impact cause by Act 10. That claim is unfounded and in error.
The Madison Prep proposal could easily be implemented if it followed the Charter Plan of Wright School, Nuestro Mundo, and Badger Rock School, all of which operate as instrumentalities of the District, under its supervision and the MMSD/MTI Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Madison Preparatory Academy could easily open if it followed the same model as the district's other charter schools, Madison Teachers Inc. Executive Director John Matthews said in response to yesterday's Urban League press conference.Related: Some Madison Teachers & Some Community Members (*) on the Proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School.
But the current proposal is "unacceptable" to Madison teachers because it would "effectively eliminate School Board oversight of the expenditure of millions of dollars in taxpayer money" and violate the district's contract with its union, Matthews said.
Matthews initially declined to comment on Madison Prep when I contacted him yesterday, but later responded in an e-mail.
In his response, Matthews criticized Madison Prep's plan to pay its teachers lower salaries and benefits than other district teachers, and not offer overtime for working longer days.
He also said the Urban League is incorrect in asserting that the current union contract can be modified without nullifying it under the state's new collective bargaining law.
Related: student learning has become focused instead on adult employment - Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman.
In the world of finance, there is always talk of bubbles - mortgage bubbles, tech stock bubbles, junk bond bubbles. But bubbles don't develop only in financial markets. In recent years, there's been another one quietly inflating, not capturing the attention of most observers.
It's an education bubble - just not the one of student debt that has graced the pages of the New York Times and so many other publications in recent months.
The problem is not that we are overeducating ourselves as many would have you believe. Rather, it's that we are spending a fortune to undereducate ourselves.
The United States has always been a very educated country. But it is becoming less and less so, especially in the areas that matter to our individual and collective economic futures. Our undereducation begins with a stubbornly high dropout rate among secondary education students. About a quarter of those who begin high school don't finish.
I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. - Mark Twain
Disclaimer: I write this as a university student. Some of my points may or may not be applicable in a high school environment.
The grading system in schools and universities has a long history of opponents and criticism. I won't go into the arguments here because, quite frankly, I don't have anything new to say about it. In short: the system sucks. It encourages memorization and frenzied, last-minute studying, can be played in a variety of ways, etc. Educators can debate the alternatives and run pilot projects, and that's all well and good. But what can we - the students - do about it?
My answer: Don't Worry About It.
Of course, this could easily be interpreted as a call to rebel against the system, forget grades entirely, and party night and day. So let me expand on that:
Pick courses that interest you, and focus on learning. And don't worry about the grades - they will come with the territory.
Persistently rising college tuitions, high spending per student, and mounting student debt burdens have re-emerged as key issues in Washington. Secretary Arne Duncan has called on college and university officials to show more urgency in keeping down their prices and spending, the House subcommittee on postsecondary education has held another hearing to wring its hands about college unaffordability, and President Obama has now summoned a select group of college presidents and higher education thought leaders to consider what can be done.
Federal efforts in the past have focused on shining a spotlight on institutions with the highest rates of tuition growth and exhorting college officials to do more to restrain their spending growth and rein in their price increases. Recent news stories indicate that these largely symbolic approaches will continue to dominate the debate as the focus seems to be on extolling the virtues of those schools or states that freeze or reduce their tuition levels, move to three-year degrees, measure learning outcomes, or find ways to use technology to lower their costs per student and hopefully their prices.
But these efforts are unlikely to yield satisfactory results, just as previous efforts have failed to slow cost and price growth or to reduce the amount students must borrow to pay for their education and related expenses. They will continue to fail unless the aim is to reshape the relationship between governments and institutions and the rules that determine how much students can and do borrow. Federal and state officials must recognize that the signals embedded in a number of policies have contributed to the past growth in costs, prices and student debt -- and then do something about it.
Lanya Olmstead was born in Florida to a mother who emigrated from Taiwan and an American father of Norwegian ancestry. Ethnically, she considers herself half Taiwanese and half Norwegian. But when applying to Harvard, Olmstead checked only one box for her race: white.
"I didn't want to put 'Asian' down," Olmstead said, "because my mom told me there's discrimination against Asians in the application process."
For years, many Asian-Americans have been convinced that it's harder for them to gain admission to the nation's top colleges.
Studies show that Asian-Americans meet these colleges' admissions standards far out of proportion to their 6 percent representation in the U.S. population and that they often need test scores hundreds of points higher than applicants from other ethnic groups to have an equal chance of admission. Critics say these numbers, along with the fact that some top colleges with race-blind admissions have double the Asian percentage of Ivy League schools, prove the existence of discrimination.
Supporters of a controversial, single-sex charter school Thursday blasted the Madison School District for its opposition to the proposal and said the teachers union is an impediment to improving student achievement.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school, here.
At a news conference, the Urban League of Greater Madison's president, Kaleem Caire, also said the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy, which would target low-income, minority students, isn't dead and called on the School Board to put "learning before labor" when it votes Dec. 19 whether to approve the charter.
"Our children aren't there to be subjects of teachers and teachers unions," Caire said. "But the decisions that have been made in the Madison Metropolitan School District for a mighty long time have been determined by adults getting what they need first before kids."
Madison Teachers Inc. executive director John Matthews declined comment Thursday.
In Dane County, median household income dropped an inflation-adjusted $64,410 in 1999 to $58,661 in 2010. In Madison, median income dropped about 8 percent to $50,508.
In the county, the rate of people living in poverty jumped from 9.4 percent to 12.2 percent. In Madison, the percentage of people in poverty jumped to 18.7 from 15.
For those younger than 18, the rise was more dramatic in Dane County: 7.2 percent at the turn of the last decade, 11.9 percent in 2010. For those younger than 18, 17.1 percent in Madison live in poverty, up from 11.4 percent in 1999.
In Dane County, 6.5 percent of households surveyed in 2010 reported an income less than $11,000, half of the federal poverty line for a family of four, defined as extreme poverty. In Madison, 9.8 percent met that standard. Both outpaced the statewide average of 5.6 percent.
School employees approved state certification for about 85 percent of the unions seeking the limited collective bargaining rights allowed under Wisconsin's controversial new law governing public employees, officials said Thursday.
Members of 208 local bargaining units for teachers and school support staff voted by telephone over the last two weeks, according to the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission, which oversaw the elections.
In November, all six state employee unions that sought official status won recertification elections.
Elections for municipal employee unions are scheduled to take place early in 2012.
Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school, here.
Kaleem Caire, via email:
Fails to address core issues impacting racial achievement gap and middle class flightRelated: "They're all rich, white kids and they'll do just fine" -- NOT!.
WHAT: The Urban League of Greater Madison and the founding Board of Madison Preparatory Academy will share their response to the Madison Metropolitan School District Administration's recommendation that the Board of Education not Support Madison Prep, and will call for immediate and wider education reforms within the Madison Metropolitan School District to address the racial achievement gap and middle-class flight and crises.
WHEN: 12:00 pm, Thursday, December 8, 2011
WHERE: Urban League of Greater Madison, 2222 S. Park St., Suite 200, Madison, WI 53713
WHO: Kaleem Caire, Urban League President & CEO Urban League of Greater Madison Board of Directors Madison Preparatory Academy Board of Directors Community Leaders and Parents
For more information, contact Laura DeRoche Perez, Director of School Development, Urban League of Greater Madison, at email@example.com or 608-729-1235.
Fellow members of the Electronic Educational Entertainment Association. My remarks will be brief, as I realize you all have texts to read, messages to tweet, and you will of course want to take photos of those around you to post on your blog.
I only want to remind you that the book is our enemy. Every minute a student spends reading a book is time taken away from purchasing and using the software and hardware the sale of which we depend on for our livelihoods.
You should keep in mind the story C.S. Lewis told of Wormwood, the sales rep for his uncle Screwtape, a district manager Below, who was panicked when his target client joined a church. What was he to do? Did this mean a lost account? Screwtape reassured him with a story from his own early days. One of his accounts went into a library, and Screwtape was not worried, but then the client picked up a book and began reading. However, then he began to think! And, in an instant, the Enemy Above was at his elbow. But Screwtape did not panic--fortunately it was lunchtime, and he managed to get his prospect up and at the door of the library. There was traffic and busyiness, and the client thought to himself, "This is real life!" And Screwtape was able to close the account.
In the early days, Progressive Educators would sometimes say to students, in effect, "step away from those books and no one gets hurt!" because they wanted students to put down their books, go out, work for social justice, and otherwise take part in "real life" rather than get into those dangerous books and start thinking for themselves, for goodness' sake!
But now we have more effective means of keeping our children in school and at home away from those books. We have Grand Theft Auto and hundreds of other games for them to play at escaping all moral codes. We have smartphones, with which they can while away the hours and the days texting and talking about themselves with their friends.
We even have "educational software" and lots of gear, like video recorders, so that students can maintain their focus on themselves, and stay away from the risks posed by books, which could very possibly lead them to think about something besides themselves. And remember, people who read books and think about something besides themselves do not make good customers. And more than anything, we want and need good customers, young people who buy our hardware and software, and who can be encouraged to stay away from the books in libraries, which are not only free, for goodness's sake, but may even lead them to think. And that will be no help at all to our bottom line. Andrew Carnegie may have been a philanthropist, but by providing free libraries he did nothing to help us sell electronic entertainment products. We must never let down our guard or reduce our advertising. Just remember every young person reading a book is a lost customer! Verbum Sap.
"Teach by Example"
Will Fitzhugh [founder]
The Concord Review 
Ralph Waldo Emerson Prizes 
National Writing Board 
TCR Institute 
730 Boston Post Road, Suite 24
Sudbury, Massachusetts 01776-3371 USA
I recently received a history paper submitted by a high school Junior who was kind enough
to enumerate the hours he has spent on athletics in a recent year:
Football: 13 hours a week, 13 weeks per year. (169 hours)
Basketball: 12 hours a week, 15 weeks per year. (180 hours)
Lacrosse: 12 hours a week, 15 weeks per year. (180 hours)
Summer Lacrosse: 10 hours per week, 15 weeks per year. (150 hours)
This yields a total, by my calculations, of
169 + 180 + 180 hours = 529 hours + 150 in the summer, for a new total of 679 hours.
We are told that there is no time for high school students to write serious history research papers, which they need to do to prepare themselves for college academic requirements. It seems likely that this young man will be better prepared in athletics
than in academics.
If it were considered important for all students to read history books and to write a serious history research paper, 679 hours (84 eight-hour days) might just be enough for them to manage that.
This particular young man made the time on his own to write a 28-page history research paper with a bibliography and 107 endnotes and submit it to The Concord Review, but this was not his high school requirement.
"Teach by Example"
Will Fitzhugh [founder]
The Concord Review 
Ralph Waldo Emerson Prizes 
National Writing Board 
TCR Institute 
730 Boston Post Road, Suite 24
Sudbury, Massachusetts 01776-3371 USA
Madison Teacher's Inc. Twitter feed can be found here.
Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school, here.
* Please see TJ Mertz's comment below. A link to the document was forwarded to me via a kind reader from Madison Teachers, Inc. Twitter Feed (a "retweet" of Karen Vieth's "tweet"). Note that I enjoyed visiting with Karen during several Madison School District strategic planning meetings.
A screenshot of the link:
The outcome of the Madison Prep "question" will surely reverberate for some time.
Finally, I suspect we'll see more teacher unions thinking different, as The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers has done: Minneapolis teacher's union approved to authorize charter schools.
Attention Nevada college students: Your tuition is going up again next year.
The Nevada System of Higher Education's Board of Regents on Friday approved an 8 percent tuition increase for undergraduate students statewide.
Regents and institutional leaders said the permanent tuition hike would help restore some of the multimillion-dollar budget cuts to higher education in recent years.
"States are disinvesting in higher education across the country," UNLV President Neal Smatresk said. "That's the direct cause of this...We're stuck between a rock and a hard place."
As a fledgling voice of reform in higher education, Salman Khan is an oddity. He cannot name any higher education accrediting agencies off the top of his head. He advocates for competency-based credentialing, but has never heard of Western Governors University. He is capable of talking on the phone for a full hour without using the word "disruptive" once. Until recently, he was an analyst for a hedge fund.
Here is what Khan does know: algebra, statistics, trigonometry, calculus, computer science, biology, chemistry, astronomy, physics, economics, and finance -- well enough, at least, to demonstrate the concepts via brief video tutorials on Khan Academy, his free learning website. What began in 2006 as an attempt to tutor his young cousin from afar has evolved into a 2,700-video library with millions of monthly visitors.
Many have lauded Khan's natural skill as a teacher. Khan's charmingly unpolished home recordings form the public face of the organization and provide a peg for media narratives about online learning and the YouTube-ification of the textbook in an era where the rising prices and demand for higher education has collided with the Internet's culture of free.
Chicago Public Schools on Tuesday became the latest large urban district to sign a compact agreement with the education-reform powerhouse Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, pledging greater cooperation and collaboration between the city's charter and traditional neighborhood schools.
The agreement allows Chicago to compete for a piece of a $40 million grant from the Gates Foundation, aimed at building relationships between charters and neighborhood schools and allow for the sharing of innovative ideas.
Chinese universities graduate more than 600,000 engineering students a year. China has consistently placed at or near the top of programming competitions. And while we have not seen China become a leader in information technology and computing, I expect that this will change in the coming decade.
Since the Internet revolution of the late 1990s, many successful companies have been built by taking American ideas and localizing them for China. These companies may have "copied" from the United States at first, but they acted swiftly, focused on their customers and developed their products, adding more and more local innovations.
For example, Tencent, one of China's three Internet juggernauts, started with an instant-messaging product named QQ, which was a replica of the same system on which Yahoo Messenger and MSN Messenger were based. But today, QQ has evolved to become a very different product -- a combination of instant messaging, social networking, universal ID and gaming center. QQ has built the world's largest online community (about 700 million active accounts), while its American counterparts continue to build instant messaging as loss leaders.
Most Atlantic readers know that, although the U.S. spends more per student on K-12 education than any other nation except Luxembourg, students in a growing number of nations outperform our own. But think about this: Among the consistent top performers are not only developed nations (Japan, Finland, Canada), but developing countries and mega-cities such as South Korea, Hong Kong, and Shanghai.
Even if we find a way to educate our future work force to the same standards as this latter group -- and we are a very long way from that now -- wages in the United States will continue to decline unless we outperform those countries enough to justify our higher wages. That is a very tall order.
You would think that, being far behind our competitors, we would be looking hard at how they are managing to outperform us. But many policymakers, business leaders, educators and advocates are not interested. Instead, they are confidently barreling down a path of American exceptionalism, insisting that America is so different from these other nations that we are better off embracing unique, unproven solutions that our foreign competitors find bizarre.
Kaleem Caire has only been back in Madison for less than two years, but he sure has grabbed our attention.
Caire didn't waste any time after coming home from a successful private sector career on the East Coast to be the new president for the Urban League of Greater Madison, starting to shake up the local establishment more or less immediately upon arrival. He has been pushing a bold proposal to attack the long-standing issue of minority underachievement in the Madison public schools. His idea for the Madison Preparatory Academy was vetted well in Nathan Comp's cover story for Isthmus last week.
For well over a year now, Caire has been shuttling between the district administration, Madison Teachers, Inc. (MTI) union leaders, school board members, parents, editorial boards and community meetings fighting for this idea.
In response to union and district administration concerns, he changed the proposal to make the school an "instrumentality" of the district, meaning it would be under school board control and be staffed by MTI member teachers. But that proposal came in at a cost for the district of $13 million over five years. Superintendent Dan Nerad, for whom I have a lot of respect, told the League that he couldn't support anything over $5 million.
IF you want to see the direction that education reform is taking the country, pay a visit to my leafy, majority-black neighborhood in Washington. While we have lived in the same house since our 11-year-old son was born, he's been assigned to three different elementary schools as one after the other has been shuttered. Now it's time for middle school, and there's been no neighborhood option available.
Meanwhile, across Rock Creek Park in a wealthy, majority-white community, there is a sparkling new neighborhood middle school, with rugby, fencing, an international baccalaureate curriculum and all the other amenities that make people pay top dollar to live there.
Such inequities are the perverse result of a "reform" process intended to bring choice and accountability to the school system. Instead, it has destroyed community-based education for working-class families, even as it has funneled resources toward a few better-off, exclusive, institutions.
This article evaluates the economic viability of a student's decision to borrow money in order to attend law school. For individuals, firms, and entire nations, the ratio of debt to income serves as a measure of economic stability. The ease with which a student can carry and retire educational debt after graduation may be the simplest measure of educational return on investment.
Mortgage lenders evaluate prospective borrowers' debt-to-income ratios. The spread between the front-end and back-end ratios in mortgage lending provides a basis for extrapolating the maximum amount of educational debt that a student should incur. Any student whose debt service exceeds the maximum permissible spread between mortgage lenders' front-end and back-end ratios will not be able to buy a house on credit.
These measures of affordability suggest that the maximum educational back-end ratio (EBER) should fall in a range between 8 and 12 percent of monthly gross income. Four percent would be even better. Other metrics of economic viability in servicing educational debt suggest that the ratio of total educational debt to annual income (EDAI) should range from an ideal 0.5 to a marginal 1.5.
The grin hasn't changed. It still reaches his eyes.Congratulations!
The grin was there last week at Van Hise Elementary School when one of his classmates asked Awonder Liang, age 8, about his medal.
"Where is it?"
"Right here," Awonder said. It lay on a nearby table. Awonder picked it up and put it around his neck.
The grin - I'd first seen it a year earlier - is evidence that Awonder can light up a room like any happy 8-year-old.
The medal is evidence of something else. It means Awonder Liang is the best chess player his age in the world.
Oregon plans to recruit and hire a new "chief education officer" who will have unprecedented power over education, including control of the chancellor of higher education, the next superintendent of Oregon's public schools and the state community college commissioner.
Gov. John Kitzhaber's new overarching education board, with control over preschool through universities, unanimously endorsed the general job description for that education officer Thursday.
Kitzhaber said he hopes to have the right person in the job by April.
The chosen leader will need the vision to help Oregon streamline, improve and connect all the education programs and institutions that serve or should serve learners from birth through college, he said. He or she will also have to be an education expert, plus be able to motivate those who work in the current system to embrace change. The political challenges will be huge.
If policymakers (see Brown, Jerry) still aren't convinced that education data matters, two reports released this week demonstrate that high quality, actionable information about schools and students is vital in efforts to improve education and student outcomes.
Bill summarized the important work of the Data Quality Campaign yesterday. More states than ever are collecting the information educators and policymakers need to make informed decisions about what's working and what isn't in schools. But just because the data can be collected, it doesn't mean that states' work is complete. Data for Action 2011 identifies four challenges - turf, trust, technical issues, and time - that continue to hinder states' efforts to utilize the full potential of their data (shameless plug: you should read my report, Data That Matters, for another set of 4 Ts that all states should follow to make their data user-friendly and actionable for school leaders).
Millions of students attend abysmally weak school systems that leave them unprepared for college, even as more jobs require some higher education. The states have an obligation to help these students retool.
More than 35 percent of students need remediation when they reach college, according to the federal government. A study by the organization that administers the ACT, the college entrance exam, finds that only a quarter of the 1.6 million 2011 high school graduates who took the exam met college-readiness benchmarks in English, reading, math and science.
Some students need one or two remedial courses before they can enroll in credit-bearing college classes. Others need so much remedial work that they will exhaust state and federal student aid without ever getting a degree. This is especially troubling because many of these students have passed state exams that are supposed to certify them as ready for college.
The District unveiled its first rankings of public charter schools Tuesday, part of a new rating system that offers parents a broader assessment of school progress than annual standardized test results.
The new performance evaluation shows how test scores of students have grown over the last year, relative to their academic peers across the city. Schools also are assessed against a series of leading indicators and "gateway" measurements that researchers regard as predictors of future educational success. They include third-grade DC CAS reading scores, eighth-grade math scores and 11th-grade PSAT results.
John Gurda wrote this weekend on the Socialist roots of the Milwaukee Public School's (MPS) Department of Recreation and Community Services. The department offers sports programs, community education, and various other activities for the Milwaukee community. Gurda argues, and I agree, that Milwaukee Recreation is an asset to the city and its residents. The question I have is should it be part of MPS?Related: Madison's Fund 80.
I do not question the ability of MPS to run the department, just the rationale for having a program not directly related to the education of MPS students housed in the school district. Maybe the task of providing recreational opportunities for residents of Milwaukee would be better placed at the City or County.
Perhaps more important, Milwaukee Recreation is funded through MPS; 4.4% of the 2011 MPS tax levy ($13.3 million) was for this department. This raises a broader question, should the MPS tax levy be used to raise funds for anything beyond educating MPS pupils?
In 2011, only about 80% ($244,262,102) of the MPS levy went towards regular district operations.
The debate over whether the Madison School Board should give the final OK to the Madison Preparatory Academy is getting a bit nasty.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
And that should not be.
While the passion on the part of the advocates for the school, led by the energetic Urban League CEO Kaleem Caire, is perfectly understandable given our schools' dismal record on minority achievement, so is the questioning from those who aren't convinced the prep idea will solve that problem.
Now, on the eve of a vote on that final approval, is not the time to point fingers and make accusations, but to come together and reasonably find ways to overcome the obstacles and reassure those who fret about giving up duly elected officials' oversight of the school and the impact it will have on the entire district's union contracts if not done correctly.
The union problem is not the fault of the union, but stems from Gov. Scott Walker and the Legislature's action to dramatically change public employee collective bargaining in Wisconsin. If the union or the School Board makes concessions for Madison Prep, the collective bargaining agreement for the entire district, which is to expire in June 2013, could be negated.
The conventional wisdom among many education commentators is that U.S. public school teachers "come from the bottom third" of their classes. Most recently, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg took this talking point a step further, and asserted at a press conference last week that teachers are drawn from the bottom 20 percent of graduates.
All of this is supposed to imply that the U.S. has a serious problem with the "quality" of applicants to the profession.
Despite the ubiquity of the "bottom third" and similar arguments (which are sometimes phrased as massive generalizations, with no reference to actual proportions), it's unclear how many of those who offer them know what specifically they refer to (e.g., GPA, SAT/ACT, college rank, etc.). This is especially important since so many of these measurable characteristics are not associated with future test-based effectiveness in the classroom, while those that are are only modestly so.
Still, given how often it is used, as well as the fact that it is always useful to understand and examine the characteristics of the teacher labor supply, it's worth taking a quick look at where the "bottom third" claim comes from and what it might or might not mean.
Jesse Roe, a ninth-grade math teacher at a charter school here called Summit, has a peephole into the brains of each of his 38 students.
He can see that a girl sitting against the wall is zipping through geometry exercises; that a boy with long curls over his eyes is stuck on a lesson on long equations; and that another boy in the front row is getting a handle on probability.
Each student's math journey shows up instantly on the laptop Mr. Roe carries as he wanders the room. He stops at each desk, cajoles, offers tips, reassures. For an hour, this crowded, dimly lighted classroom in the hardscrabble shadow of Silicon Valley hums with the sound of fingers clicking on keyboards, pencils scratching on paper and an occasional whoop when a student scores a streak of right answers.
The software program unleashed in this classroom is the brainchild of Salman Khan, an Ivy League-trained math whiz and the son of an immigrant single mother. Mr. Khan, 35, has become something of an online sensation with his Khan Academy math and science lessons on YouTube, which has attracted up to 3.5 million viewers a month.
About 12 percent of all charter schools have bargaining agreements. Why do charter schools unionize? What is in these charter school contracts? Can they be considered innovative or models for union reform? And how do they compare to traditional district/union teacher contracts? Center on Reinventing Public Education legal analyst Mitch Price investigated those questions in his study of charter school collective bargaining agreements.
Price examined nine charter schools unionized either by management design or by teacher vote. For comparison, he examined traditional district contracts and analyzed data from non-unionized charter schools as well. He found that the new contracts can be crafted in ways that respect the unique missions and priorities of charter schools, provide teachers with basic protections, and maintain organizational flexibility. However, while these new contracts innovate in many ways, they could go much further given the opportunity to create contracts from scratch.
Prior to the Thanksgiving break, we administered a survey asking for feedback from families about their knowledge and thoughts on the changes we are making to the curriculum delivery model at Wedgwood. Thank you to the 259 families who responded to the survey. We have 449 students currently enrolled at Wedgwood, 185 of whom are siblings. If respondents only completed one survey per family, as requested, our sample is quite accurate.Charlie Mas has more:
Overall, families want more information about what cluster grouping is. This was expressed in a variety of ways by families of general education, spectrum and special education students. I will attempt to clarify what it is here and how Wedgwood staff is using this information to move forward.
For those who do not know, cluster grouping is a method of grouping gifted students (gifted being identified as students who score in the 98th - 99th percentile on a cognitive ability test) into clusters of 6 students in one classroom that also include high achievers and above average students. The remaining students would be clustered so that the highest achieving students and lowest achieving students are not in the same classroom. With that as a guide, Wedgwood is developing plans to move from having self-contained spectrum classrooms to integrated classrooms using an interpretation of this model. We are already doing this in 1st grade, albeit more heterogeneously than what the research we based our 1st grade model on suggests.
Are you confused about what Wedgwood is doing with their Spectrum program? Join the club. Everyone is confused about what Wedgwood is doing with their Spectrum program. The president of the confusion club appears to be the school's principal, Chris Cronas.
In another issue, Sam Castaneda Holdren, a spokesman for Stand for Children, said the organization collected about 100,000 voter signatures for a ballot question that would codify into law new educator-evaluation regulations approved in June by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
The new state regulations call for evaluating teachers and administrators partly by the scores of their students on the MCAS statewide tests, feedback from students and parents, by state and local observations in classrooms and other measures.
The ballot question would go beyond the state regulations in some respects, said Jason Williams, executive director of Stand for Children in Massachusetts. For example, the question would mandate that the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education approve evaluation plans developed through bargaining with unions in school districts if those local plans differ from a state model that will eventually be developed. Right now, the department could only review those local plans, not reject them, Williams said
In a New York Times op-ed article on Monday, Natalie Hopkinson writes that school choice in her neighborhood in Washington has destroyed community-based education for working-class families. With New York ranked No. 1 in the nation in giving parents and students choices, according to one study last week, Amy Stuart Wells, a parent of an eighth grader and a professor at Teachers College, has her own take on New York's system.
When my son's high school choice process began last spring, I already had a full-time job. I was not looking for a second one. But as the summer turned to fall, and the high school touring and test-taking kicked into full gear, I watched as many 8th grade parents (myself included) became increasingly bleary eyed and overwhelmed.
We sought each other's empathy and commented that orchestrating our children's school choices was like a full-time job -- a second one for many of us.
The Urban League's Madison Prep proposal continues to garner attention as we draw closer to the School Board's December 19 up-or-down vote on the proposal.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
This weekend the news has been the school district administration's analysis of the Urban League's current proposal for a non-instrumentality charter school (i.e., one where the teachers and other school staff would be employees of the Urban League rather than the school district and the school would be free of most administrative oversight from the district).
The analysis recommends that the School Board reject the Madison Prep proposal, for two principal reasons.
The first is that, as a matter of policy, the administration is opposed to non-instrumentality charter schools because of the lack of day-to-day oversight of their operations. The second reason is that there does not seem to be a way the school district could enter into a contract for a non-instrumentality charter school without running afoul of our collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with Madison Teachers Inc. (MTI).
Presidents at 36 private colleges earned more than $1 million in 2009, up from 33 the previous year, according to a study by The Chronicle of Higher Education.
The annual study, using data from federal tax documents, found that the median compensation -- including salary and benefits -- was $385,909, a 2.2 percent increase from the previous year. The median base salary increased by 2.8 percent to $294,489.
The highest-paid president in 2009 was Constantine Papadakis of Drexel University. Mr. Papadakis, who died in April that year, earned $4,912,127, most of it from life insurance and previously accrued compensation paid to his widow. His base salary was $195,726.
The next three top earners -- William R. Brody of Johns Hopkins University ($3,821,886); Donald V. DeRosa of University of the Pacific ($2,357,540); and Henry S. Bienen of Northwestern University ($2,240,775) -- also left their presidencies.
America now finds itself at an interesting crossroads. Over the next few years, it is estimated that this country will need one million new teachers, as more and more baby boomers begin to retire. (A baby boomer is a person who was born during the demographic Post-War II baby boom and who grew up during the period between 1946 and 1964.)
This impending shortfall of public educators is further exacerbated by the disturbing national trend that has severely undermined job security for many public-sector employees by restricting, or outright prohibiting workers from engaging in the collective bargaining process.
As we have seen, Wisconsin has become the embarrassing leader of the political attack now being orchestrated against the poor and working-class families in this country. But vilifying teachers is nothing new for the Badger State. Former Governor and now U.S. Senate hopeful, Tommy Thompson used teachers and its union (WEAC) as convenient political scapegoats back in the 1990s. He succeeded in making the case that state property taxes were so out of whack, solely as a result of the exorbitant salaries and benefits being afforded to teachers. Talk about pure political demagoguery!
How much is a good school system worth?
The Virginia Beach, Va., school district believes its own system is worth about $1.53 for every $1 spent from the 70,000-student district's operating fund.
Not content with making an argument that good schools have an economic value that is unmeasurable, the district asked a university economist to calculate just what it brings both to the city and the Hampton Roads region in southeastern Virginia.
The report generated for the district, the third-largest in the state, is more than an academic exercise for James G. Merrill, the Virginia Beach superintendent. The district is one of the few in the state that receive money from local taxpayers based on a revenue-sharing formula, which is currently under fire. As the city and the school district head into budget season, Mr. Merrill said he wanted to make an argument for school funding based on business principles.
Paula Prosper worried that her son was not ready for the differences between his private Montessori school and the public Fairfax County seventh grade she planned to transfer him to next year.
Prosper, a teacher, asked if he and she could sit for a few hours at Longfellow Middle School "to see what happens in classes and to get a feel for the school in general." The answer was no, with explanations that made little sense.
Prosper said Longfellow's director of student services, Gail Bigio, told her "it had to do with privacy issues for the teachers -- the public employees whose salaries are paid by my tax dollars. Then she brought up immunization and likened it to the students attending the school who wish to have a visiting cousin shadow them." Longfellow Principal Carole Kihm told me Bigio did not mention teacher privacy.
Roughly one-third of students in Harris County's public schools leave without a diploma, according to a new analysis from Children at Risk.
The Houston-based research and advocacy nonprofit calculated for the first time a decade of average graduation rates for Harris County. It also calculated graduation rates for all the public high schools with available data in Harris, Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Liberty, Montgomery and Waller counties for the ninth-grade class of 2004-05. The rate reflects students who graduated within six years.
As the graphic below shows, the percentage of students graduating high school has increased over the decade, but black and Hispanic students and those from low-income families graduate at much lower rates than their Anglo, Asian and more affluent classmates.
There's a debate brewing - mostly via keyboards - about whether schools still need to teach cursive writing to classrooms of digitally wired kids.
I'd be a better defender of beautifully flowing handwriting if my own hadn't deteriorated over the years to a hybrid of cursive, printing, squiggles and shorthand. My wife nudges me out of the way every time we step up to sign a guest book. My lame defense is that I'm left-handed.
Still, I'm glad I learned cursive at Our Lady of Sorrows, my Catholic elementary school where every classroom came with a strip of capital and lowercase letters above the blackboard. Even if a person doesn't write that way very often - thank-you notes and postcards come to mind - it's nice to be able to decipher other people's hen-scratching.
Wisconsin is one of more than 40 states that don't require cursive in their core curriculum standards, though the state Department of Public Instruction doesn't have any data on schools or districts that have actually dropped it in favor of spending more time on other subjects. Cursive may indeed fade away, but who wants to jump first?
What's most important, said DPI spokesman Patrick Gasper, is learning the various types of writing - persuasive, storytelling, speeches and so forth - and not whether it's written, printed or typed.
If we don't change the way ICT is thought about and taught, we're shutting the door on our children's futures
So, in the immortal words of Rory Cellan-Jones, the BBC's technology correspondent, coding (ie computer programming) is "the new Latin". This was the headline on his blog post about the burgeoning campaign to boost the teaching of computer skills in UK schools.
Dedicated readers will recall that it is also a bee in the bonnet of this particular columnist. The ICT (information and communications technology) curriculum in our secondary schools has been a national disgrace for as long as I can remember. This is because it effectively conflates ICT with "office skills" and generally winds up training them to use Microsoft Office when what they really need is ICT education - that is to say preparation for a world in which Microsoft (and maybe even Google) will be little more than historical curiosities, and PowerPoint presentations will look like Dead Sea scrolls.
Rory Cellan-Jones's blog post was prompted by signs that the campaign to rethink ICT education is gathering momentum. It was first given a boost by a report written by two elders of the computer games world, Ian Livingstone and Alex Hope, on the need to transform the UK into "the world's leading talent hub for the video games and visual effects industries". Their report recommended, among other things, that computer science should become part of the national curriculum.
The labor market continued to expand at a modest pace last month, according to today's employment report. Payroll employment increased by 120,000 jobs in November, and the fraction of Americans with a job ticked up. Including revisions to previous months, total employment was 192,000 higher in November. Private employment increased by 140,000 jobs last month while governments continued to shed jobs. While the unemployment rate jumped down to 8.6 percent, some of the reduction reflected lower labor force participation rather than increases in employment.
While overall job creation has improved slightly, many American workers continue to face serious difficulties in the labor market. These workers tend to have less formal education and/or fewer job-relevant skills. For less-educated workers, the Great Recession has only exacerbated a longer-term trend of diminished earnings and job opportunities.
It's weird how you can lose track of our ever-changing world. For instance, until recently, I thought "reality TV" meant games about people who were stuck on an island or locked in a house together for the summer. Then, suddenly, I noticed that there were seven different regularly scheduled shows about real housewives, three about people who bid on abandoned storage lockers and two about people who kill wild hogs for a living.
And then there was online education. (Confession: This entire column is actually going to be about online education. I just used the wild hogs to reel you in.)
I always thought that the only kids getting their entire public schooling online were in the hospital, living in the Alaskan tundra, or pursuing a career as a singing orphan in the road company of "Annie." Not so. There are now around 250,000 cyberschool students in kindergarten through high school and the number is growing fast.
Nobody is forced to go to Dr. Brenda Noach Choice School. The 87 students enrolled this September were there because their parents chose the school.
So why should we be concerned about how the students are doing? None of our business, right?
I would disagree for two reasons: One, those 87 students mean the school is in line to receive more than $500,000 this year in public support. And, two, results for the school's students a year ago on the state's standardized tests were bad.
A few slices of an answer: Only 18% of the school's students were rated proficient in reading. None - that is, zero - were proficient in math. There were only a handful of 10th-graders last year, and among them, none scored as proficient in reading, language arts, math, science, or social studies. Zero.
The Brenda Noach school, 3965 N. 15th St., is among a handful of schools at the bottom of the spectrum (judging by test scores and other indicators) of the 106 schools in Milwaukee's nationally important private school voucher program.
Citing a critical need to not underestimate the stakes at hand, Commissioner of Education Chris Nicastro presented to the State Board of Education today her analysis of ways the state could assist the Kansas City Public Schools in regaining accreditation.
The State Board met in Branson on Dec. 1-2, where discussion of the Kansas City Public Schools was part of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's recommendation for revamping a statewide system of support. This system would identify risk factors and target limited resources to assist unaccredited school districts and those that are at risk of becoming unaccredited. Currently, nearly one dozen schools would receive focused attention.
Here's the bottom line on public schools in Wisconsin after a big cut in state aid to K-12 education:
• The kids are mostly all right.
• The teachers are smarting from smaller paychecks.
• The full impact of the two-year, $750 million cut won't be known until next school year.
That's what a recent survey of Wisconsin school administrators suggests.
The Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators surveyed more than 80 percent of districts across the state in early fall. The results are being cited -- and exaggerated -- in a variety of ways. The Democrats and unions suggest the sky is falling. Republican Gov. Scott Walker pretends all is well.
And the political spin will only speed and sharpen if Walker faces a recall election next year as expected.
Moving from elementary school to middle school, or from middle school to high school, was simple once. A counselor, principal, or teacher informed the student which school she would attend when summer ended. And the parents got their children to the right school on a specified day at the end of August.
Public education long ago parted ways with the one-size-fits-all approach, particularly in urban or suburban school districts large enough to design schools focused on particular areas of student interest. We have moved on to science magnets, liberal arts and fine arts academies, performing arts institutes, and single-gender schools.
The single-gender model for girls has been around for more than 100 years, mostly in parochial and private schools where they have done remarkable work educating young women. They are a novelty in public education. And an all-girls school is the new kid on the block in the Austin school district -- and in other districts in Texas.
We are in agreement that the achievement gaps for low-income students, students of color, students with disabilities, and English Language Learners must be eliminated. The Administration agrees that bolder steps must be taken to address these gaps. We also know that closing these gaps is not a simple task and change will not come overnight, but, the District's commitment to doing so will not waiver. We also know that to be successful in the long run, we must employ multiple strategies both within our schools and within our community. This is why the District has held interest in many of the educational strategies included in the Madison Prep's proposal like longer school days and a longer school year at an appropriately compensated level for staff, mentoring support, the proposed culture of the school and the International Baccalaureate Program.
While enthusiastic about these educational strategies, the Administration has also been clear throughout this conversation about its concern with a non-instrumentality model.
Autonomy is a notion inherent in all charter school proposals. Freedom and flexibility to do things differently are the very reasons charter schools exist. However, the non-instrumentality charter school model goes beyond freedom and flexibility to a level of separateness that the Administration cannot support.
In essence, Madison Prep's current proposal calls for the exclusion of the elected Board of Education and the District's Administration from the day-to-day operations of the school. It prevents the Board, and therefore the public, from having direct oversight of student learning conditions and teacher working conditions in a publicly-funded charter school. From our perspective, the use of public funds calls for a higher level of oversight than found in the Madison Prep proposal and for that matter in any non-instrumentality proposal.
In addition, based on the District's analysis, there is significant legal risk in entering into a non- instrumentality charter contract under our collective bargaining agreement with our teachers.
In our analysis of Madison Prep's initial instrumentality proposal, the Administration expressed concerns over the cost of the program to the District and ultimately could not recommend funding at the level proposed. Rather, the Administration proposed a funding formula tied to the District's per pupil revenues. We also offered to continue to work with Madison Prep to find ways to lower these costs. Without having those conversations, the current proposal reduces Madison Prep's costs by changing from an instrumentality to a non-instrumentality model. This means that the savings are realized directly through reductions in staff compensation and benefits to levels lower than MMSD employees. The Administration has been willing to have conversations to determine how to make an instrumentality proposal work.
In summary, this administrative analysis finds concerns with Madison Prep's non-instrumentality proposal due to the level of governance autonomy called for in the plan and due to our collective bargaining agreement with our teachers. Based on these issues, we cannot recommend to the Board that Madison Prep be approved as a non-instrumentality charter school.
We know more needs to be done as a district and a community to eliminate our achievement gaps. We must continue to identify strategies both within our schools and our larger community to eliminate achievement gaps. These discussions, with the Urban League and with our entire community, need to continue on behalf of all of our students.
In anticipation of the recommendation, Caire sent out an email Friday night to School Board members with a letter responding to concerns about the union contract issue.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
The problem concerns a "work preservation" clause in the Madison Teachers Inc. contract that requires all teaching duties in the district be performed by union teachers.
Exceptions to the clause have been made in the past, such as having private day-care centers offer 4-year-old kindergarten, but those resulted from agreements with the union. Such an agreement would nullify the current union contract under the state's new collective bargaining law, according to the district.
Caire said a recent law signed by Gov. Scott Walker could allow the district to amend its union contract. However, School Board member Ed Hughes, who is a lawyer, disagreed with Caire's interpretation.
Nerad said even if the union issue can be resolved, he still objects to the school seeking autonomy from all district policies except those related to health and safety of students.
Caire said Madison Prep's specific policies could be ironed out as part of the charter contract after the School Board approves the proposal. He plans to hold a press conference Tuesday to respond to the district's review.
"The purpose of a charter school is to free you from red tape -- not to adopt the same red tape that they have," Caire said. "We hope the board will stop looking at all of those details and start looking at why we are doing this in the first place."
The fate of Madison Prep, yea or nea, will resonate locally for years. A decisive moment for our local $372M schools.
As Dropout Nation reported on Wednesday, the National Education Association reported in its recent U.S. Department of Labor filing that it spent $133 million in 2010-2011 on lobbying and contributions to groups whose agendas (in theory) dovetail with its own. And the list of organizations and players who have benefited from the union's largesse grows even larger.More here.
The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, a longtime beneficiary of NEA funds, garnered $400,373 from the union during its last fiscal year. The Great Lakes Center for Education, which, like the Economic Policy Institute, always churns out studies that dovetail nicely with NEA positions, got $250,000 from the national union. (Three affiliates -- Michigan Education Association, Education Minnesota, and the Illinois Education Association -- chipped in another $30,000, according to each of their respective federal filings.) National Board for Professional Teaching Standards got $10,000 from the union last fiscal year. And the University of Colorado at Boulder also picked up $250,000 for a "sponsored project", likely something being put together by one of the NEA's longtime fellow-travelers, Kevin Welner's National Education Policy Center that is based on the university's campus.
Over the last several months it's been a pleasure to witness the easing of ill will between the leadership of NJ's primary teachers' union, NJEA, and members of Gov. Christie's educational team. After several years of bitter recrimination from both sides of the table, everyone seems to have moved on from the trauma of our botched Race To The Top application and former Comm. Bret Schundler's resignation. Sure, the sting of last Spring's health and benefits reform bills, championed by Gov. Christie, must be a sore spot for union leadership, but there appears to be a shared recognition that we should recalibrate the balance between the needs of schoolchildren and the needs of teachers. Suddenly NJ's 100-year old tenure law is on the table - a boon for both student and professionals - and Ed. Comm. Cerf 's speech at NJEA's Annual Convention earlier this month and was courteously received (except for a few nasty tweets).
So we'll hold onto the progress and roll our eyes at the retro and reactive press release just out from NJEA President Barbara Keshishian, in which she claims, in outraged tones, that NJ's alleged achievement gap among black, white, Hispanic, and poor kids is a "classic strawman" on the part of Gov. Christie and "based on a deliberate misuse of the data."
Fewer than one-third of California students who took a statewide physical fitness test this year managed to pass all six areas assessed, new results show.
State Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, a longtime cross-country coach who has made physical fitness a signature issue, announced the results this week as he launched a program to improve children's health. The campaign will use such celebrity athletes as NBA all-star Bill Walton and others to visit schools to urge students to drink more water, eat more fruits and vegetables and increase their exercise.
"When only 31% of children are physically fit, that's a public health challenge we can't wait to address," Torlakson said in a statement.
The Minneapolis teachers' union has become the first in the nation to win the right to authorize charter schools.This makes sense. I hope we see much more of this.
State officials have approved the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers as a charter school authorizer.
Authorizers don't run charters; they oversee the administrators and school boards that handle day-to-day operations of a charter school. Authorizers are also primary decision makers on which schools to sponsor.
During the 20-year history of charter schools there have been examples of teachers starting schools, and some charters have unionized teachers.
MFT will be the first union to serve as a charter sponsor. Formally, it has created an organization called the Minnesota Guild of Charter Schools (informally 'the Guild') that will serve as authorizer.
When the end finally came, it came fast. Spotting Steve's red BMW convertible parked in the driveway, Culver City police in tactical vests and armed with assault weapons quickly deployed, swarming the front and rear entrances. Wearing a green nylon jacket with RAID splashed across the shoulders, Sergeant Jason Sims knocked on the front door, then ordered his men to break it down with a battering ram. Inside, kids screamed, cried, or just stood there trying to wrap their heads around what they were witnessing--and what their parents were witnessing. Because this was a Thursday, this was Family Night. Expecting to endure an evening of candor with impunity--Guess what, Mother? The world doesn't revolve around you!--parents had their bean dip and decaf upended by an armed raid. Tilling the big wayward ship of their children's adolescence had left them chronically alert to trouble, but not like this.
Elementary Support & Services
National Novel Writing Month
Future Problem Solving
William & Mary Literature groups
M2 and M3 Math groups
American Math Competition 8
Science enrichment pilot College for Kids I (support)
Middle School Support & Services
Future Problem Solving
Advanced Math courses
Assistance with Science Symposium
American Math Competition 8
College for Kids II (support)
Great Books Pilot
Hybrid Geometry Pilot
High School Support & Services
College Matters at UW Madison
Math Meets (competitions)
Respectful Relationship days
Leadership Conference (pilot, grant application in progress)
Assistance with High School Science Symposium
1. Falk- Working with students in a writing group
2. Stephens- Working with a group of students in math
4. Schenk- Science/math enrichment
5. Crestwood- Math enrichment
6. Crestwood- Math enrichment
7. Crestwood-Math enrichment
8. Franklin- Math enrichment
9. Randall- Math enrichment
10. Randall - Math enrichment
Of course Madison Prep wants the media opportunity of children waiting in an auditorium, some advocates for the school have demonized teachers, the Madison Prep Board has decided that the only way to make the school happen is to employee non-union staff and not pay them for the extended day and year (that they are also seeking African American and Latino staff, makes this even worse). It should also be noted that school choice backers like the Kochs, the Waltons and (Bradley and Koch funded) ALEC aren't all that keen on "the right to clean water" either.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
On Dec. 19, the Madison school board is scheduled to vote on whether to approve Madison Preparatory Academy, a charter school that would target at-risk minority students.
For more than 18 months, the proposal -- drawn up by the Urban League of Greater Madison as an ambitious step toward closing the district's racial achievement gap -- has polarized the community, with a broad range of critics taking aim on multiple fronts.
The proposal, at least by local standards, is a radical one, under which the Urban League would operate two largely taxpayer-funded, gender-specific secondary schools with an unprecedented level of autonomy. If approved, Madison Prep would open next fall with 120 sixth-graders and peak at 840 students in grades 6 through 12 by its seventh year.
Opponents say the Urban League's proposal combines flawed educational models, discredited science, fuzzy budgeting and unrealistic projections of student success. While some applaud certain elements of the proposal, like longer school days and academic years, they maintain that Madison Prep won't help enough students to justify the $17.5 million cost to the district over its first five years.
Madison schools aren't failing, by any stretch of the imagination, for many students.Remarkable. Are there some excellent teachers in Madison? Certainly. Does Madison's Administration seek best in the world results? A look at the math task force, seemingly on hold for years, is informative. The long one size fits all battle and the talented and gifted complaint are worth contemplating.
In fact, if you're a white, middle-class family sending your children to public school here, your kids are likely getting an education that's on a par with Singapore or Finland -- among the best in the world.
However, if you're black or Latino and poor, it's an unquestionable fact that Madison schools don't as good a job helping you with your grade-point average, high school graduation, college readiness or test scores. By all these measures, the district's achievement gap between white and minority students is awful.
These facts have informed the stern (and legitimate) criticisms leveled by Urban League President Kaleem Caire and Madison Prep backers.
But they doesn't take into account some recent glimmers of hope that shouldn't be discounted or overlooked. Programs like AVID/TOPS support first-generation college-bound students in Madison public schools and are showing some successes. Four-year-old kindergarten is likely to even the playing field for the district's youngest students, giving them a leg up as they enter school. And, the data surrounding increasing numbers of kids of color participating in Advanced Placement classes is encouraging.
Stepping back from the local district and looking at education through a broader lens, it's easy to see that No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top have aimed to legislate, bribe and punish their way toward an unrealistic Lake Wobegon world where all the students are above average.
Could Madison be the best? Certainly. The infrastructure is present, from current spending of $14,963/student to the nearby UW-Madison, Madison College and Edgewood College backed by a supportive community.
Ideally, Madison (and Wisconsin) should have the courage to participate in global examinations (Florida Students Take Global Examinations, Wisconsin's Don't). Taxpayers and parents would then know if Troller's assertions are fact based.
Kaleem Caire, via email
December 2, 2011PDF letter:
Greetings Madison Prep.
Tomorrow afternoon, we are expecting to learn that MMSD's Administration will inform the Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education that Madison Prep should not be approved. A possible reason we expect will be MMSD's concern that the current collective bargaining agreement between the District and Madison Teachers Inc. (MTI) has a "work preservation clause" which the teacher's union advocated for long ago to ensure that it was the only game in town to represent public school teachers in Madison.
Below, is the cover note that I forwarded to Ed Hughes of the Board of Education and copied to a number of others, who had asked a thoughtful question about our proposal to establish Madison Prep as a non-instrumentality charter school, we hope, in fall 2012. Also see the letter attached to this email.
December 2, 2011
Attached, please find a letter that contains the answer to your question referenced in your email below. The letter contains the explanation of a path to which Madison Prep could be established as a non-instrumentality public charter school, under Wisconsin law, and in a way that would not violate the current collective bargaining agreement between MMSD and Madison Teachers Inc.
We look forward to answering any questions you or other members of the Board of Education may have.
Thank you so much and Many blessings to you and your family this holiday season.
cc: Daniel Nerad, MMSD Superintendent
Dylan Pauly, MMSD Legal Counsel
MMSD Board of Education Members
ULGM Board of Directors
Madison Prep Board of Directors
Godfrey & Kahn, S.C.
Steve Goldberg, CUNA Mutual Foundation
This letter is intended to respond to your November 78,207I email and to suggest that there is a viable option for moving forward with Urban League's proposal for the Madison Preparatory Academy ("Madison Prep") that: [i) will reduce cost; and (ii) will not sacrifice the union security provisions of the Collective Bargaining Agreement "Agreement" or "Contract") between the Madison Metropolitan School District ("MMSD" or "District") and Madison Teachers, Inc. ("MTI").Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Your email asks for a response to a question concerning how the school district could authorize Madison Prep as a non-instrumentality charter without thereby violating the terms of the District's Agreement with MTI. Your email references a provision in the MTI Agreement that provides "that instructional duties where the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction requires that such be performed by a certifìcated teacher, shall be performed only by'teachers."' .See Article I, Section 8.3.a. In addition you note that "the term 'teacher' refers to anyone in the collective bargaining unit." See Article I, Section 8.2. You conclude your email by stating that "it appears that all teachers in MMSD schools -- including non-instrumentality charter schools - must be members of the MTI bargaining unit."
The Urban League is aware of the Agreement's language and concedes that the language, if enforceable, poses an obstacle as we look for School Board approval of the plan to open and operate a "non-instrumentality" school. Under an instrumentality charter, the employees of the charter school must be employed by the school board. Under a non-instrumentality charter, the school board may not be the employer of the charter school's staff. See S 118.40(7)(a). Thus, the statement in your email that all teachers, including those in a non-instrumentality charter school - "must be members of the MTI bargaining unit" and, presumably, employed by the school board is not permitted under Wisconsin law.
Under Wisconsin's charter school law the School Board has the exclusive authority to determine whether a school is an instrumentality or not an instrumentality of the school district. .See S 118.40(7)(a). That decision is an important decision reserved to the School Board alone. The effect of that decision drives whether teachers and staff must be, or cannot be, employees of the School Board. The language of the Contract deprives the School Board of the decision reserved to it under the statute and that language cannot be harmonized to give effect to both the statute and the Agreement. Alternatively the Contract language creates a situation whereby the School Board may exercise its statutory authority to approve a non-instrumentality charter but it must staff the school with school district employees, a result clearly prohibited under the statute. In our view the law trumps the Contract in either of these situations.
The situation described above could likely only be resolved in a court of law. The Contract includes a "savings clause" that contemplates that where a court invalidates a provision in the Agreement, the invalid provision is deleted and the remainder of the contract remains intact. See Article VIII, Section E.
The Urban League is, however, mindful that litigation is both expensive and time consuming. Moreover it is clear that the Contract language will become a prohibited subject of bargaining in the near future when the current Agreement expires. Unfortunately, the children we seek to serve, do not have the time to wait for that day.
Our second purpose in writing is to make you aware of a possible solution to a major obstacle here. One of the major obstacles in moving forward has been the cost associated with an instrumentality school coupled with MTI's reluctance to work with the District in modifying the Contract to reduce costs associated with staffing and certain essential features of Madison Prep, like an extended school day, As we understand it MTI does not want to modify the Contract because such a modification would result in an earlier application of 2077 Wisconsin Act L0 to the District, members of the bargaining unit and to MTI itself.
We understand MTI's reluctance to do anything that would hasten the application of Act 10 in the school district, With the passage of 2011. Wisconsin Act 65, that concern is no longer an obstacle.
Act 65 allows the parties to a collective bargaining agreement to enter into a memorandum of understanding that would run for the remaining term of the collective bargaining agreement, for the purpose of reducing the cost of compensation or fringe benefits in the collective bargaining agreement,
The Act also provides that entering into such a memorandum would not be considered a "modification" of the collective bargaining agreement for the purposes of Act 10. Act 65 was published on November 23,2077 and took effect the following day. The law allows the parties to a collective bargaining agreement to enter into such a memorandum no later than 90 days after the effective date of the law.
The Urban League believes that Act 65 gives the Board and MTI the opportunity to make changes that will facilitate cost reductions, based in compensation and fringe benefits, to help Madison Prep move forward. And, the law allows the parties to do so in a way that does not adversely impact the teachers represented by MTI or the union security provisions of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
For example, the parties could agree to reduce the staffing costs for Madison Prep, The parties could also agree that a longer school day would not have to cost more. And, the parties could agree that the work preservation clause referenced in the first part of this letter does not apply where the School Board has determined a charter school willbe a non-instrumentality of the District, a move that would also most certainly reduce costs. These changes would not be forced upon any existing MTI represented teacher as teachers would apply for vacancies in the school.
We hope that the School Board will give serious consideration to the opportunity presented by Act 65. 0n behalf of the Urban League of Greater Madison and Madison Preparatory Academy, we thank you for your support of Madison Prep.
Value-added and other types of growth models are probably the most controversial issue in education today. These methods, which use sophisticated statistical techniques to attempt to isolate a teacher's effect on student test score growth, are rapidly assuming a central role in policy, particularly in the new teacher evaluation systems currently being designed and implemented. Proponents view them as a primary tool for differentiating teachers based on performance/effectiveness.Much more on value added assessment, here.
Opponents, on the other hand, including a great many teachers, argue that the models' estimates are unstable over time, subject to bias and imprecision, and that they rely entirely on standardized test scores, which are, at best, an extremely partial measure of student performance. Many have come to view growth models as exemplifying all that's wrong with the market-based approach to education policy.
It's very easy to understand this frustration. But it's also important to separate the research on value-added from the manner in which the estimates are being used. Virtually all of the contention pertains to the latter, not the former. Actually, you would be hard-pressed to find many solid findings in the value-added literature that wouldn't ring true to most educators.
The Obama administration issued new guidance Friday advising schools and colleges on how they can make race-based enrollment decisions to promote campus diversity, shortly before the Supreme Court is set to consider whether to re-examine a 2003 case holding that universities could sometimes use race in admissions decisions.
"Diverse learning environments promote development of analytical skills, dismantle stereotypes and prepare students to succeed in an increasingly interconnected world," Attorney General Eric Holder said in a joint release by the Justice and Education departments.
The departments withdrew prior guidance from the Bush administration, which officials said was too vague to assist school administrators seeking to promote diverse student enrollment. The new guidance parses the Supreme Court's most recent rulings on student diversity to suggest policies the administration believes would not violate the 14th Amendment's guarantee of equal protection of the laws.
Like the former Bush administration guidance, the new documents advise schools to use race-neutral policies if possible. If those prove insufficient, however, the new guidance states that a school "may consider a student's race as a 'plus factor' (among other, nonracial considerations) to achieve its compelling interests" in diversity.
It would have been understandable if President Barack Obama had ignored education in his first speech to Congress. There were other things to worry about in February 2009: an economy in free fall, health care costs threatening to bankrupt the federal government, a nation bleeding in two protracted foreign wars. Obama had said little about education on the campaign trail. Yet when he took the podium, he made a bold declaration: By 2020, America would regain its historical international lead in college attainment.
Months earlier, Bill Gates had announced a similar priority for his charitable foundation, the richest on the planet. After years of focusing on improving education for students in kindergarten through 12th grade, the Microsoft billionaire had set his sights on college. As would Obama, he called for a major increase in the number of adults with college degrees. Together, the most powerful man in the world and one of the richest created a rare moment of purpose and clarity in American education policy.
But effecting a major increase in college attainment is a daunting task. The percentage of American working-age adults who have graduated from college has hovered around 40 percent for years, with roughly 30 percent holding four-year degrees and another 10 percent associate's degrees. Obama and Gates were calling for a rise in the college attainment rate to nearly 60 percent in less than a generation, even though many public colleges and universities were already bursting at the seams, and cash-strapped state legislatures were handing down further punishing budget cuts.
High school goes digital. Never mind pep rallies and locker rooms. We'll look at the rise of online high school.
We all know what school means. Especially high school. Classrooms. Study halls. Pep rallies. Locker rooms. For most, that's still the formula.
But a rising wave of American students - and not just high school but the full K-12 - is turning away from that. Is getting its education online.
By Creating from Scratch
Some common words have no apparent etymological roots
Many of the new words added to the ever-growing lexicon of the English language are just created from scratch, and often have little or no etymological pedigree. A good example is the word dog, etymologically unrelated to any other known word, which, in the late Middle Ages, suddenly and mysteriously displaced the Old English word hound (or hund) which had served for centuries. Some of the commonest words in the language arrived in a similarly inexplicable way (e.g. jaw, askance, tantrum, conundrum, bad, big, donkey, kick, slum, log, dodge, fuss, prod, hunch, freak, bludgeon, slang, puzzle, surf, pour, slouch, bash, etc).
Words like gadget, blimp, raunchy, scam, nifty, zit, clobber, gimmick, jazz and googol have all appeared in the last century or two with no apparent etymology, and are more recent examples of this kind of novel creation of words. Additionally, some words that have existed for centuries in regional dialects or as rarely used terms, suddenly enter into popular use for little or no apparent reason (e.g. scrounge and seep, both old but obscure English words, suddenly came into general use in the early 20th Century).
Sometimes, if infrequently, a "nonce word" (created "for the nonce", and not expected to be re-used or generalized) does become incorporated into the language. One example is James Joyce's invention quark, which was later adopted by the physicist Murray Gell-Mann to name a new class of sub-atomic particle, and another is blurb, which dates back to 1907.
This past weekend the New York Times devoted two big op-eds to the decline of the suburb. In one, new urban theorist Chris Leinberger said that Americans were increasingly abandoning "fringe suburbs" for dense, transit-oriented urban areas. In the other, UC Berkeley professor Louise Mozingo called for the demise of the "suburban office building" and the adoption of policies that will drive jobs away from the fringe and back to the urban core.
Perhaps no theology more grips the nation's mainstream media -- and the planning community -- more than the notion of inevitable suburban decline. The Obama administration's housing secretary, Shaun Donavan, recently claimed, "We've reached the limits of suburban development: People are beginning to vote with their feet and come back to the central cities."
Yet repeating a mantra incessantly does not make it true. Indeed, any analysis of the 2010 U.S. Census would make perfectly clear that rather than heading for density, Americans are voting with their feet in the opposite direction: toward the outer sections of the metropolis and to smaller, less dense cities. During the 2000s, the Census shows, just 8.6% of the population growth in metropolitan areas with more than 1 million people took place in the core cities; the rest took place in the suburbs. That 8.6% represents a decline from the 1990s, when the figure was 15.4%.
Many people think of IQ as a genetic trait, like brown eyes or short legs: You're born with it and you're stuck with it. Now, a growing body of research is showing that a person's IQ can rise--and even fall--over the years.
Scores can change gradually or quickly, after as little as a few weeks of cognitive training, research shows. The increases are usually so incremental that they're not immediately perceptible to individuals, and the intelligence-boosting effects of cognitive training can fade after a few months.
In the latest study, 33 British students were given IQ tests and brain scans at ages 12 to 16 and again about four years later by researchers at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at University College London; 9% of the students showed a significant change of 15 points or more in IQ scores.
On a scale where 90 to 110 is considered average, one student's IQ rose 21 points to 128 from 107, lifting the student from the 68th percentile to the 97th compared with others the same age, says Cathy Price, professor of cognitive neuroscience at the center and co-author of the study, published last month in Nature. Another student's score skidded out of the "high average" category, to 96 from 114.
PHILANTHROPY: Are you as paranoid about vocational education as you were about business?
MR. GROVE: The details are of course different, but in this way, they are very similar. Paranoia in management involves trying to anticipate who intentionally or unintentionally will slow you down, or who will derail you. Usually this attitude is not taught in school, which is why I wrote my book. Now, as for vocational education, do you recall the words of the presidential report on education [A Nation at Risk] from 1983? It started out by saying, "If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war." Is this paranoia?
Well, the same thing applies to vocational education--only doubly so. Most people don't even realize the need for more highly trained workers. The assumption remains that technical education is for less intelligent people. The first item cut from educational budgets is vocational education. People are required to be suitably trained for their work requirements, and yet the classes that are required for this are cut to the bone. In some instances, students are halfway through the course when funding is cut and then they are sent home. We create a damned obstacle course for people who want to work!
In a distressed neighborhood north of Miami's gleaming downtown, a group of enthusiastic but inexperienced instructors from Teach for America is trying to make progress where more veteran teachers have had difficulty: raising students' reading and math scores.
"These are the lowest performing schools, so we need the strongest performing teachers," said Julian Davenport, an assistant principal at Holmes Elementary, where three-fifths of the staff this year are Teach for America corps members or graduates of the program.
By 2015, with the help of a $50 million federal grant, Teach for America recruits could make up one-quarter of all new teachers in 60 of the nation's highest need school districts. In 2010, the Tuscaloosa City Board of Education approved a contract to bring 24 Teach for America teachers into Tuscaloosa. Eight teachers began working in schools in the Central zone -- the poorest and lowest-performing zone in the school system -- in the 2011-12 school year. Eight more are to arrive in 2012-13 and another eight in 2013-14.
It has become something of a joke here. At the same time President Obama is lavishly praising South Korea's education system, South Koreans are heaping criticism on it.
In speeches about America's relative decline, Mr. Obama has repeatedly singled out South Korea's relentless educational drive, its high university enrollment, and its steady production of science and engineering graduates as worthy of emulation.
His South Korean counterpart, meanwhile, warns of a glut of university graduates and a work force hard-wired to outdated 20th-century manufacturing skills. "Reckless entrance into college is bringing huge losses to families and the country alike," said President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea recently.
Mr. Lee has raised eyebrows, and hackles, by suggesting that fewer people should go to college from a population of 50 million that sustains 3.8 million undergraduate and graduate students.
Bernie Marcus is a do-it-yourself kind of guy. Sure, he knows his way around sheetrock and, yes, he can talk in great detail about remodeling a bathroom or putting in a backyard deck. But for Marcus, home improvement projects represent a part of something much more profound. Doing it yourself means being able to take control of your own life, shaping your own destiny, daring to accomplish more than you imagine possible. It's an essential part of being an American. After all, it's what inspired his signature project. He built a company from scratch, and turned his idea into a household name with a $60 billion market cap. Bernie Marcus built Home Depot.
"It happened because of us," says Marcus. "I mean, we had no money. When we opened Home Depot in 1979, we were broke. I had just been fired. Some of us were on the verge of bankruptcy. But we had a great idea, and we had some people who were willing to support us. And we put in the work--we put in sweat and tears, our hearts and souls. But today Home Depot has more than 300,000 people working for it. We built it all."
Two Madison School Board members who say they are likely to vote no on Dec. 19 when the Madison Preparatory Academy proposal comes before the board for final approval or denial have some ideas they believe would better serve all of Madison's students.
Marj Passman, School Board vice president, says she hopes the local Urban League and its president, Kaleem Caire, will pursue funding for Madison Prep as a private school if the proposal fails to gain approval from a majority of board members. Passman says it's likely she will vote against Madison Prep as a public charter school, although she will look at an administrative analysis due by Dec. 4 prior to making her final decision.
"There's been a lot of community support and I'm sure he (Caire) can come up with the money for the school as a private academy," Passman told me in a recent phone interview.
"Then he could pursue the school in its purest form, he won't have to compromise his ideas, and he can showcase how all these elements are going to work to help eliminate the achievement gap, increase graduation rates and raise GPAs for minority students," she says.
Board member Maya Cole also tells me she is a "pretty firm no vote" against the Madison Prep proposal. What Cole would like to see as an alternative is a charter school embedded within an existing district middle school like Wright or Toki, using district staff.
Read more: http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/education/blog/chalkboard-school-board-members-float-alternatives-to-madison-prep-charter/article_9cdb35d8-1bdf-11e1-8845-001cc4c03286.html#ixzz1fLBMOiNx
Black and Hispanic students in a special Madison School District college preparatory program have higher grade point averages, attendance rates and test scores than their peers who aren't in the program, according to a UW-Madison analysis.
The study of the AVID/TOPS program -- geared toward preparing low-income, minority students for college -- comes as the Madison School Board contemplates a proposal to create Madison Preparatory Academy, a controversial charter school with similar goals.
Some opponents of Madison Prep argue the AVID/TOPS program is a proven way of helping close the achievement gap between white and minority students.
Superintendent Dan Nerad said the district is pushing ahead with a proposal to expand the program in middle school. It currently serves 491 students at East, West, Memorial and La Follette high schools and Black Hawk Middle School.
"I would not tell you that AVID alone will make the difference," Nerad said. "But it's a very important piece for us."
The new Brookings index on school choice is interesting and worth a look but as I go through it two things seem to jump out. First, despite the rhetoric in the public square there still isn't a great deal of real choice in education. And second, the index seems to reward places (relatively speaking) that have limited choices but still do all the things you should do (information, transportation etc...nonetheless). That's like having an incredible restaurant with easy valet parking, wonderful fresh food, great service, and lovely ambiance - but that can only seat four people a night. Nice but limited.
Lately David Foster Wallace seems to be in the air: Is his style still influencing bloggers? Is Jeffrey Eugenides' bandana-wearing depressed character in The Marriage Plot based on him? My own reasons for thinking about him are less high-flown. Like lots of other professors, I am just now sitting down to write the syllabus for a class next semester, and the extraordinary syllabuses of David Foster Wallace are in my head.
I am not generally into the reverential hush that seems to surround any mention of David Foster Wallace's name by most writers of my generation or remotely proximate to it; I am not enchanted by some fundamental childlike innocence people seem to find in him. I am suspicious generally of those sorts of hushes and enchantments, and yet I do feel in the presence of his careful crazy syllabuses something like reverence.
Wallace doesn't accept the silent social contract between students and professors: He takes apart and analyzes and makes explicit, in a way that is almost painful, all of the tiny conventional unspoken agreements usually made between professors and their students. "Even in a seminar class," his syllabus states, "it seems a little silly to require participation. Some students who are cripplingly shy, or who can't always formulate their best thoughts and questions in the rapid back-and-forth of a group discussion, are nevertheless good and serious students. On the other hand, as Prof --- points out supra, our class can't really function if there isn't student participation--it will become just me giving a half-assed ad-lib lecture for 90 minutes, which (trust me) will be horrible in all kinds of ways."
More parents are opting out of school shots for their children. In eight states now, more than one in 20 public school kindergartners aren't getting all the vaccines required for attendance, an Associated Press analysis found.
That growing trend among parents seeking vaccine exemptions has health officials worried about outbreaks of diseases that once were all but stamped out.
Take measles, for example. It can lead to pneumonia, encephalitis and death. Since 2000, one in every 250 Americans who got measles died.
The measles vaccine is so effective, 99.9% of those who get vaccinated gain immunity, said Geoffrey Swain, associate professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and chief medical officer for the Milwaukee Health Department.
Many children cannot get the measles vaccine, though, because they aren't old enough - the first dose of vaccine is recommended between 12 and 15 months. Or, they have medical issues or families with religious beliefs that leave them unprotected and susceptible to measles through no fault of their own, Swain said.
The Obama administration's decision to allow states to request waivers from No Child Left Behind was a step in the right direction, but only a baby step. Four in five schools across the country will be deemed "failing" this coming year if nothing stops the "train wreck" that Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has said No Child Left Behind (NCLB) will inflict upon the nation's schools. These include schools in which the vast majority of students are proficient in math and English, as well as schools in which students, teachers, and principals are making real progress in the face of formidable challenges: concentrated poverty, large numbers of students with special-needs, and state budget cuts that have severely reduced the resources needed to address the obstacles to learning.
Duncan's characterization of NCLB is apt; a recent National Research Council study found that 10 years of test-based accountability "reform" has delivered no significant progress for students. Throughout the country, pressure to improve test scores has led to an increase in intense test preparation. In many cases, this has led to less time for actual learning and reduced the ability of schools to respond to the learning needs of the most disadvantaged students. Instead of focusing on how to deliver high quality instruction schools have become preoccupied with how to produce increases in test scores. Reports of widespread cheating on state exams appearing in city after city are increasingly viewed not as isolated instances of teacher misbehavior, but as a consequence of high-stakes testing.
Parents gathered in the auditorium of the Talented and Gifted School for Young Scholars on Tuesday morning were not happy.
Their school, one of only three citywide gifted and talented programs in Manhattan, shares space in an East Harlem building with three middle schools. They learned recently that one of the schools, Esperanza Preparatory Academy, wants to expand to a high school, and they are concerned that the expansion will cause overcrowding and bring other problems.
Tuesday's meeting was called by the Education Department last week after parents flooded the office with calls and e-mails expressing concern about the addition of high school grades when their school has children as young as kindergarten.
The Oakland school district is closing five elementary schools next year. Two of its other schools might be converted into independently run charters, taking 800 children with them. And at least one -- quite possibly, two -- brand new charter schools open next fall, with plans to admit more than 600 students, combined.
But OUSD's leaders aren't bracing for a big enrollment drop. They predict the school system's enrollment will hold firm in September -- and even grow slightly (by 125 students, to 38,166).
Will the numbers bear out? They didn't this fall. Enrollment in the city's district-run schools, though flat, came in 300 students shy of projections, creating a $1.6 million budget gap that needed to be closed immediately.
Colleges should examine a wider set of social, economic and personal characteristics to determine how they can help students remain in school and graduate, a new report has found (PDF report link).
Aside from SAT scores and high school grade point averages, students' success in college relies on a number of other factors -- often overlooked -- that more accurately predict whether they will stay in school, according to the report scheduled for release Tuesday by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA.
Using information from a national survey of college freshmen in public and private institutions as well as graduation data, the report found, for example, that students who visit a college before enrolling, participate in clubs and other activities and those who have used the Internet for research and homework are more likely to complete a degree earlier than others. The costs of attending a college and the institution's size also contribute to students' success, the report found.
Michigan's school board elections will be held in November of even-numbered years through legislation signed by Gov. Rick Snyder.
The legislation that the Republican governor signed today will require school board and intermediate school district elections to be held at the same time as November general elections.
Supporters of the legislation say it will ensure that school board elections are held when voter turnout is highest. Supporters say it also should help consolidate elections and save money in some locations.