During the last year, three different reports have claimed to compare the academic achievement of students in the Milwaukee Public Schools with students in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program.
Two conclude, erroneously, that MPS students outperform students in the choice program.
The third reaches far different conclusions.
Two of the three, from Wisconsin's Department of Public Instruction (DPI) and the Milwaukee-based Public Policy Forum (PPF), used deeply flawed methods to conclude that MPS students outperform those in the choice program. Page one stories in the Journal Sentinel validated these erroneous reports. The paper compounded the errors by wrongly suggesting that the DPI and PPF data allow individual schools to be evaluated.
The third report comes from the School Choice Demonstration Project (SCDP) at the University of Arkansas and is based on rigorous methods. Its reports, including several issued today, draw starkly different conclusions from those advanced by DPI, PPF, and Journal Sentinel news stories.
Responding to widespread attention generated by the DPI and PPF reports, the experts at the University of Arkansas refute the validity of those reports and demonstrate why they provide neither a basis for comparing MPS and Milwaukee's school choice programs nor for evaluating individual schools.
Both races for Madison School Board feature matchups between a candidate with strong business acumen and boardroom experience versus a minority candidate with experience more representative of the district's growing student population.Seat 1 Candidates:
That contrast is especially pronounced in the contest between former Commerce Secretary and Trek Bicycle executive Mary Burke and firefighter Michael Flores.
Madison Teachers Inc. executive director John Matthews even characterizes Burke as a "1 percenter" who doesn't know "what it is like for a child to go to bed or go to school hungry."
Burke, a Democrat who was endorsed by former Gov. Jim Doyle, whose wife was a teacher and whose mother served as School Board president, objects to that description.
"People who know me sort of laugh, because I don't fit the profile of what (Matthews) is saying," Burke said, adding she supports Occupy Wall Street values such as progressive taxation and reducing the influence of corporations in government.
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
Seat 2 Candidates:
Arlene Silveira & Michael Flores Madison Teachers, Inc. Candidate Q & A
This brings us to Udacity, which takes all the best parts of the above approaches and marries them into an incredible teaching tool. Audacity combines the personal, approachable first person teaching style of Kahn Academy, but then backs it up with interactive programming in Python, all right in the browser.
The teachers are ex-Stanford professors, so they have decades of experience teaching this material, which really shows in how they present it. So far in the first week of class, they have done a great job of covering fundamentals without getting bogged down in details, getting students to start learning intuitively, by doing, while still giving them the founding blocks to know why things work the way they do.
Perhaps most importantly, Udacity has structured their CS101 course around a brilliant concept, building a search engine in eight weeks. That single act makes the course not about learning, but about doing. The class never has to answer the question 'why are we doing this?', because each topic is directly tied to the overall goal of building your own little Google, every piece is practical.
Since retiring 18 months ago as chancellor at the University of Minnesota Duluth, Kathryn Martin has collected more money from the U than she did in her last two years on the job.
One of nearly a dozen university executives to step down in the past two years, Martin was granted a two-month sabbatical, a 15-month "administrative transitional leave,'' a final deposit to her retirement fund, and a severance check. Total: $535,700.
Hers was the biggest in a series of compensation packages signed by former university President Robert Bruininks worth more than $2.8 million. The deals routinely granted top administrators lengthy paid leaves, then allowed them to return to faculty positions or depart the U's payroll.
A Star Tribune review of university documents shows that seven of 10 high-ranking officials in the Bruininks administration, including the former president himself, received at least a year off with pay at their executive salaries, as well as retirement and health insurance contributions. The deals often were vague about what the administrators would do on leave. Bruininks also repeatedly waived a university policy that executives repay their stipends in the event they left the U while on leave.
our of Hawaii's five largest private K-12 schools are telling PBN they are planning tuition increases for the 2012-13 school year. The other one, Kamehameha Schools, has not finalized next year's tuition, but a spokesman said it likely will increase, too.
That genre--or rather, that industry (clarity trumps metaphor, as the storytelling-obsessed Tullman would tell you)--is vocational education. "It's a shame that the United States is the only country in the world where it's considered downscale and horrible to go to any kind of vocational school," says Tullman, pecking at his computer, which is wired to a large screen that barrages visitors to his office with wow-inducing videos and applications created by Flashpoint students and faculty. "Everyplace else, there are apprenticeships, vocational training, all kinds of paths to be successful. We need that here."
Tullman believes training young people to fill tomorrow's jobs is this country's best shot at reducing unemployment and staying globally competitive. Tomorrow's jobs, of course, is code for technology, a subject, Tullman argues, traditional four-year colleges teach poorly because faculty aren't in the field keeping current and students don't work across departments in interdisciplinary teams, as happens in the real world. "Part One was that every other school was teaching in these silos with tenured faculty who weren't learning new technologies," says Tullman, explaining what attracted him to the idea for Flashpoint, which was brought to him in 2007 by Ric Landry, the company's co-founder. "Part Two was you had a group of kids that were only interested in digital and were not going to go to a four-year liberal-arts school and end up with their futures in hock."
Regarding Robin Mamlet and Christine Vandevelde's "Should Colleges Be Factories for the 1%?" (op-ed, Feb. 21): When I went to college (for an engineering degree quite some time ago), the costs were so affordable that I paid all of them from summer earnings, a little savings and an occasional part-time job while in school. I lived at home and commuted, but my parents never had to pay a tuition bill. By the time my children went to college, earning enough to pay just the tuition for a state school was impossible. Now, it's totally out of the question; students regularly graduate with tens of thousands of dollars in debt. In some cases, repayment is impossible from earnings based on their major.
It is a shame for parents to go into debt, give up vacations and other niceties, take on additional part-time work and endanger their retirement so that their children can go to college, but who then must move back in with their parents because they cannot find a job. Having a good idea of the likelihood of gainful employment should be part of the decision-making process, especially for those parents not in the "1%."
For students planning to apply to a four year college, scores on standardized admissions tests--the SAT I or ACT--take on a great deal of importance. It may be the quality and quantity of an applicant's high school coursework that receives the closest scrutiny at the more prestigious institutions, but these are cumulative indicators of performance. Standardized admissions tests, by contrast, are more of a one shot deal. Such tests are blind to a student's high school record--instead, they are intended as an independent, objective measure of college "readiness". For students with a strong high school record, admissions tests provide a way to confirm their standing. For students with a weaker high school record, admissions tests provide a way to raise their standing. A principal justification for the use of the SAT I and ACT in the admissions process is that such tests are designed to be insensitive to the high school curriculum and to short- term test preparation. If short term preparatory activities prior to taking the SAT I or ACT can have the effect of significantly boosting the scores of students above those they would have received without the preparation, both the validity and reliability of the tests as indicators of college readiness might be called into question.
High-stakes testing -- forcing Rhode Island students to pass particular, certain tests to get a diploma -- like the NECAP test, is going to have a devastating impact on every student in Rhode Island, according to a group of local organizations led by the ACLU.
Some local students also echoed the protest at a news conference Thursday morning.
The use of high-stakes testing is scheduled to be put into effect in 2014, under legislation proposed by Rhode Island Rep. Eileen Naughton and state Sen. Harold Metts. State assessments would be used to ultimately determine if students are eligible for graduation at the end of the school year.
"There is no data and no evidence anywhere that suggests that putting this test in place is going to stop the travesty of our young people not having the skills they need," Ex. Dir. of Young Voices Karen Feldman said.
Madison has had valuable sister city relationships with cities such as Camaguey, Cuba; Freiburg, Germany; and Arcatao, El Salvador -- some stretching back almost 30 years.
Now, a 29-year-old Madison native is forging a sister community center for the Meadowood Neighborhood Center with a planned neighborhood center in Camarones, Ecuador, about three hours northwest of Quito, the country's capital.
To that end, Emily Kalnicky, who spent three months volunteering in Camarones last year, co-founded the nonprofit Camarones Community Coalition, and recently kicked off a unique fundraising push.
Her goal is to raise $30,000 in the 30 days leading up to her 30th birthday, March 19. So far she has raised about $2,000.
When Arlene Silveira first ran for School Board in 2006, there was community dissatisfaction with the "status quo." In one race, a four-term incumbent was unseated. Silveira ran for an open seat and won, but only after a recount.012 Madison School Board Candidates:
There hasn't been as much interest in a School Board election until this year, when once again the election features a closely contested open seat and an incumbent facing a spirited challenge.
However, Silveira's opponent, Nichelle Nichols, vice president of education and learning at the Urban League of Greater Madison, acknowledged she faces an uphill battle.
Silveira wrapped up numerous early endorsements, including Madison Teachers Inc., the local teachers union. Moreover, when asked to make an argument for why voters shouldn't re-elect her opponent to a third term, Nichols treads lightly, crediting Silveira for shepherding the district through a strategic planning process and the hiring of Superintendent Dan Nerad.
"She hasn't ruffled any feathers," Nichols said. "No one can point out any specific flaws."
Seat 1 Candidates:
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
Seat 2 Candidates:
Arlene Silveira & Michael Flores Madison Teachers, Inc. Candidate Q & A
The Fine Arts Festival at Edgewood High School goes beyond showcasing student talent by bringing in a variety of guest artists who have furthered their crafts.
The first day of the recent festival was Guest Artist Day, and students had a choice of artists to visit at each of the nine sessions held throughout the day. The 28 artists were chosen to represent different cultures, historical periods and genres.
"You just get involved and you get to see things you've never seen before," said junior Maura Drabik, 16.
She was one of the students who got moved by the performance of the Latin band Grupo Candela and danced at the front of the auditorium.
IN ELDORADO, one of São Paulo's poorest and most misleadingly named favelas, some eight-year-old boys are playing football on a patch of ground once better known for drug gangs and hunger. Although they look the picture of health, they are not. After the match they gather around a sack of bananas beside the pitch.
"At school, the kids get a full meal every day," explains Jonathan Hannay, the secretary-general of Children at Risk Foundation, a local charity. "But in the holidays they come to us without breakfast or lunch so we give them bananas. They are filling, cheap, and they stimulate the brain." Malnutrition used to be pervasive and invisible in Eldorado. Now there is less of it and, equally important, it is no longer hidden. "It has become more visible--so people are doing something about it."
There was a time when iTunes U was just a section of the iTunes store where you could download audio and videos. Since Apple's recent education event, that's all changed. iTunes U is still a part of the iTunes Store but there's now a dedicated iTunes U app for iOS devices.
The other major change to iTunes U was a policy change. iTunes U was previously only available to universities. At the January education event Eddy Cue stated that "starting today K-12 schools can sign up" to iTunes U. We didn't get pre-announcement access but I signed up as soon as I could and Cedars has been accepted to iTunes U.
Welcome to the second installment of "How We Will Read," a series exploring the future of reading from the perspectives of publishers, writers, and intellectuals. This week, we talked to Laura Miller and Maud Newton, founders of The Chimerist, a new blog dedicated to exploring the imaginative potential of the iPad.
In addition to ruminating on the experience of using the iPad, Maud and Laura discussed the future of narrative forms, interactive storytelling, and their hopes for the evolution of publishing. What resulted was two poetic and nuanced views of what digital reading means to people who love books. Their work at The Chimerist had already distinguished Laura and Maud as thoughtful writers at the intersection of media and technology. It was incredible to hear what else they were thinking about as they navigate this new and rapidly changing space. Check out their interview below, and be sure to check out The Chimerist, too.
The requirement that school committees must provide educators with layoff notices by a March 1 deadline is a ridiculous exercise that has to be stopped. This arbitrary deadline serves no purpose except to add to the stress of teachers who are working hard every day to provide our students with a world-class education.
I do believe that when school committees face difficult decisions about laying off teachers and other educators, teachers deserve to receive timely notice of these pending layoffs that may affect their livelihoods and their careers.
President Barack Obama wants to close dozens of loopholes that let some companies pay little or nothing in taxes. But he also wants to open new ones for manufacturers and companies that invest in clean energy.
To some analysts, the new loopholes risk upending the level playing field Obama says he wants to create.
Some also fear that companies could game the system to grab the new tax breaks.
"The administration is not making sense," says Martin Sullivan, contributing editor at publisher Tax Analysts. "The whole idea of corporate tax reform is to get rid of loopholes, and this plan is adding loopholes back in."
Economists across the political spectrum support a kind of grand bargain: cut corporate tax rates while deleting tax breaks that benefit a favored few.
Many Math professors, who have looked at the Singapore K-6 Math Books, are strong advocates of them because these books
1. Do an especially good job in training students in Basic Skills and
2. Do an especially good job in providing students with Conceptual Understanding and
3. Provide an especially good background in Arithmetic and Arithmetic word problems, for the learning of Algebraic calculations and for learning how to solve Algebraic word problems.
4. Do an especially good job in training students in non-trivial Arithmetic word problems; while American texts largely avoid non-trivial Arithmetic word problems.
The Seattle School Board will soon consider terminating the District's contract with Teach for America. There is disagreement about this on the School Board, so we are likely to hear a discussion of the question with Board directors advocating for each side. This is good and healthy. This is what democracy looks like. I welcome a full discussion regardless of the eventual conclusion. I will, however, be deeply disappointed if the discussion is not honest. We have already seen the start of a dishonest discussion. This dishonest discussion needs to be stopped and it is the other Board directors who need to stop it. They need to stop it by exposing the dishonesty the moment it appears.
When the Curriculum and Instruction Policy Committee met and decided to advance this motion to the full board, one of the Board directors, Harium Martin-Morris, spoke against the termination of the Teach for America contract. Mr. Martin-Morris made one of the most loathsome and dishonest statements I have ever heard from a school board director. He said that the Board should make data-based decisions and that it was pre-mature to terminate the contract with Teach for America because they did not yet have the results of this experiment. There are so many lies packed into that statement that I'm going to need some time and space to unpack them all.
IN THE film "Superman 3", a lowly computer programmer (played by Richard Pryor, pictured) embezzles a fat wad of money from his employer. The boss laments that it will be hard to catch the thief, because "he won't do a thing to call attention to himself. Unless, of course, he is a complete and utter moron." Just then the thief screeches into the car park in a brand new red sports car, radio blaring.
In the real world, embezzlers are seldom so obvious. The traditional way to snare them is to hire an accountant to scrutinise accounts for anomalies. But this is like looking for a contact lens in a snowdrift. So firms are turning to linguistic software to narrow the search.
As New York City parents and teachers struggled Monday to make sense of recently published schoolteacher rankings, education officials considered whether future releases should be illegal to protect a fragile truce on a new statewide system.
Legal experts said a series of court rulings have made it increasingly clear that statistics-based portions of teacher evaluations are public information, unlike those of police officers, firefighters and other public workers specifically protected under state law.
Only a change in law, experts said, would change that. Shielding teacher rankings from public view is likely to become a new pressure point in the debate over how to measure the effectiveness of teachers, lawmakers and officials said Monday.
At the height of the Occupy protests last fall, young people held signs announcing how much they owed in student loans. While the pundits were asking each other what, exactly, the protesters wanted, a big part of the answer was on those signs: Students are leaving colleges and universities with a staggering financial burden and bleak job prospects.
"When you get out of college at 21 with a 30-year loan, it's soul crushing," says Scot Ross, executive director of One Wisconsin Now, a progressive organization that is launching an advocacy campaign on the issue. Ross is on leave to serve as communications director for gubernatorial candidate Kathleen Falk.
The student loan landscape has shifted dramatically since the parents of current students and recent graduates left college. In 2006, the U.S. Education Department's National Center for Education Statistics reported that most borrowers who finished college in the early 1990s were able to manage their student loan burden. Most paid the loans back in 10 years. Today, many students face 20 to 25 years of making payments. In the early '90s, about half of students borrowed; in 2006, two-thirds had to borrow. And their loans are much bigger.
It is now well known that people are generally accurate and (sometimes embarrassingly) honest about their personalities when profiling themselves on social-networking sites. Patients are willing to be more open about psychiatric symptoms to an automated online doctor than a real one. Pollsters find that people give more honest answers to an online survey than to one conducted by phone.
But online honesty cuts both ways. Bloggers find that readers who comment on their posts are often harshly frank but that these same rude critics become polite if contacted directly. There's a curious pattern here that goes against old concerns over the threat of online dissembling. In fact, the mechanized medium of the Internet causes not concealment but disinhibition, giving us both confessional behavior and ugly brusqueness. When the medium is impersonal, people are prepared to be personal.
A sample of students in Milwaukee's private voucher schools made gains in reading in 2010-'11 that were significantly higher than those of a matched sample of peers in Milwaukee Public Schools, but math achievement remained the same last school year, according to the results of a multiyear study tracking students in both sectors.Mike Ford and Christian D'Andrea have more.
The results of the study are being released Monday in Milwaukee as the final installment of an examination of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, or voucher program.
The longitudinal study - meaning it tracked the same set of students over the testing period - was conducted by the School Choice Demonstration Project, a nonpartisan research center at the University of Arkansas. The group was selected by the state to conduct a long-term study of the voucher program and its impact on Milwaukee.
Rather than looking at scores of all students, the study matched a sample of 2,727 voucher students in third through ninth grades in 2006 with an equal number of similar MPS students. The study used a complex statistical methodology based on growth models.
Given MTI's leadership during last year's protests over Governor Walker stealing public employees' rights and negating 46 years of MTI's gains through collective bargaining, and because of MTI members' leadership in the recall campaigns of anti-public employee Senators and the Governor, the Union has received and continues to receive requests for guidance.
Currently MTI President Peggy Coyne (Black Hawk) and MTI Faculty Representative & Recall Committee member Kathryn Burns (Shorewood) are in Osaka, Japan, where they will be presenters at a meeting of 200 to prepare for the Osaka Social Forum to be held in September. The public employees in Osaka City advise that they are facing the same kind of attacks by the new Mayor of Osaka City, who was formerly the Governor of Osaka Prefecture. The theme of this fall's conference is how to organize resistence to the harsh attacks on union rights and public education.
In April, MTI Board of Directors' Secretary Liz Wingert (Elvehjem) will travel to Edmonton, Alberta, where she will engage in a very similar meeting to that described above in Osaka, Japan. Similar to Wisconsin, Koch Industries registered last spring as lobbyists in Alberta. Their subsidiary, Flint Hills Resources, is among Canada's largest crude oil purchasers, shippers and exporters. Koch Industries' [open secrets 2008 Senate Democrat contributions, including Obama, 2008 Republicans] Flint Hills Resources operates a crude oil terminal in Hardisty, and has offices in Calgary. Charles and David Koch are reportedly the 24th richest people in the world, with holdings worth $17.5 billion. It was David Koch who Governor Walker thought he was talking with last spring, only to have the caller being an impersonator. The New York Times reported that the Koch brothers were among Walker's largest contributors. The Capital Times reported last Monday that David Koch said, "What Scott Walker is doing with public employee unions in Wisconsin is critically important." The Koch brothers "Americans for Prosperity" has bought about $700,000 in TV ads in support of Governor Walker.
In Alberta, like Wisconsin, conservative legislators argue that public sector collective bargaining should be curtailed and that alternate means of delivering public services should be enabled. Alberta conservatives call it "privatization" and "managed competition", where the lowest price gets the contract.
For the last few years, the San Diego Unified School District has announced that it will have to lay hundreds of teachers off. But each year, the total number of teachers actually laid off has ended up just a slice of that worst-case-scenario.
This pattern happens because every January, the district has to project how it will balance its budget the following year. In lean times, it does that by projecting how many people it will have to lay off.
But, in January, the district doesn't know how much money it will have to work with the following year. It doesn't know that until the state comes out with its budget in the summer. A lot often changes in the few months between the district making its projections and the state's final budget. The result: The district's projections end up way off, as hundreds of layoff notices are cancelled.
The teachers union derides this pattern as "crying wolf" and says it brings about unnecessary distress at schools. Recently, the union called on the district to stop playing the budget game. In response, the district says it's mandated by law to project and account for the worst possible situation for its budget, and said it's happy to work to change a union-supported law that requires it to issue layoff notices before March 15 each year.
One of these slow alpha-waves of change in the telecosm is the upcoming decline and death of the GSM ecosystem. As the biggest and baddest technology ecosystem in the world, this is very significant. Let me point out how it might gradually corrode and collapse - albeit over a long period - and what might grow in its place.Thanks to Brian S. Hall for the pointer.
We come to celebrate GSM
GSM is arguably the single most impactful technology on everyday human existence since the wheel. (OK, since the axle and second wheel - the first wheel was a confusing novelty.) Superlatives like "astonishing" are appropriate. In a mere two decades GSM has created a connected planetary populace. The spread and impact of even the printing press cannot compare. The core offer is a perfect packaging of human voice and simple text into GSM's mobile telephony and SMS standards. A $20 GSM phone with a $3 service plan is near-miraculous source of value. The world's richest man is an emerging-market GSM entrepreneur, not a software mogul or energy tsar. This is a technology that has outpaced even the spread of clean water and mains electricity.
This achievement cannot be understated, and should not be diminished. Too many Web-heads dismiss the benefits that GSM has brought. It wasn't the Internet that connected billions, it was GSM.
Well worth Reading.
Energized by his fellow adjunct professors who had gathered for a national meeting last month in Washington, D.C., Joshua A. Boldt flew home to Athens, Ga., opened his laptop, and created a Google document.
On his personal blog, the 32-year-old writing instructor implored colleagues to contribute to the publicly editable spreadsheet, detailing their pay per course and other working conditions, noting their institutions and departments. The goal of the crowdsourcing project, Mr. Boldt said, was to praise universities that treat adjunct professors well and "out" those institutions that do not.
"Let's combine forces," he wrote. "Fill in as much information as you feel comfortable doing, and be sure to tweet this document and share it. ... "
One would think education traditionalists would be as slightly relieved by the deal New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo forced the state's education department to strike with the American Federation of Teachers' state affiliate as school reformers are (slightly irrationally) exuberant. While Value-Added analysis of student test score growth over time culled from the state's standardized tests would account for at least a fifth -- and as much as 40 percent -- of the overall evaluation, the overall evaluation will still be largely based on classroom observations that are generally less accurate in reflecting their performance than student surveys. Considering that districts can still base half of the test portion of evaluations from third-party instruments (instead of from state tests, as Cuomo had wanted), teacher evaluations will still remain less useful than they could be in rewarding high-quality teaching and helping teachers improve performance. From where your editor sits, the deal is just a slight change for the better, either for good-to-great teachers or for our children. For reformers, it's a cosmetic victory, and for education traditionalists, it's far less of a defeat than they could have otherwise expected.
I don't know exactly what happened during a funeral at a church at N. 53rd and W. Burleigh streets last Tuesday, but I know it was bad.
I know a lot more about what happened in the library at Bradley Tech High School the next morning, and I know it was good.
I took rather personally the debacle at the church, where the funeral of a teenage murder victim attracted a large crowd of youths and a ruckus among them brought police rushing to the scene. I live nearby. My synagogue is about 50 yards from the church. My neighbors and my family don't like visitors like these kids in our still-pretty-solid neighborhood.
The next morning, I was in the library at Bradley Tech as about 20 students from Tech and Vincent High School demonstrated the "restorative justice" program that helps them deal with problems and resolve disputes constructively. They were celebrating a $90,000 grant from AT&T to support that program and a program aimed at boosting math success.
Federal aid for students has increased 164% over the past decade, adjusted for inflation, according to the College Board. Yet three-quarters of Americans and even a majority of college presidents see college as unaffordable for most, and that sentiment has been steadily spreading, the Pew Research Center reports.
Two new studies offer clues on why. One measures the degree to which some colleges reduce their own aid in response to increased federal aid. The other suggests federal aid is helping to push college costs higher.
Under Open Enrollment, students may transfer into an MMSD school from another district or transfer out to another district - "enterers" versus "leavers." This report focuses primarily on Open Enrollment leavers. There is also some discussion of the net effect of Open Enrollment, which is the number of leavers minus the number of enterers. This report does not discuss students attending private/parochial schools or home schooled students.Charts (10MB PDF).
For the 2011-12 school year, MMSD has 913 leavers and 213 enterers for a
net effect of 700 students choosing to attend a district other than MMSD.
Of the 913 leavers for 2011-12, 580 were "continuing leavers" meaning they open enrolled outside of the District in previous years. That leaves 333 first time leavers for the current school year.
The growing number of leavers in recent years is the result of a cumulative increase over several years - those who are continuing leavers are still included in our counts in the following years. Because of this, it will take time to reverse the net number of leavers and first time leavers are of particular interest.
First time leavers increased only slightly from 2010-11 to 2011-12. If we discount the one-time bump for the first class of 4K, the number of first time leavers went down for the first time since at least 2005-06.
It is also important to note that nearly half of the students that are leavers never attended MMSD and could be considered "stayers" for other districts.
In terms of why people leave the district, we rely on a 2009 survey of leavers.
The most conspicuous part of President Obama's agenda for higher education is his plan for gigantic increases in enrollment. Obama announced this goal very early in his term. In February 2009, in a speech to a joint session of Congress he declared, "by 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world." Translated into actual enrollments, that would mean more than doubling the number of domestic students attending the nation's colleges and universities.
Last week in Obama's Higher-Education Agenda I said I would in a series of posts examine the eight majors components of that agenda, and then try to put them together as a whole. His dream of gargantuan expansion comes first both as first-announced and as the foundation for everything else.
The idea of gargantuan expansion did not pop out of the blue. Rather it popped out of the College Board in a report released just before Obama's inauguration, and it also popped out of a two-page ad that appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe in December 2008. The College Board report, Coming to Our Senses: Education and the American Future, called for granting college degrees to at least 55 percent of "young Americans" by 2025. The "young Americans" qualifier is important. This was a summons not for more more adult and continuing post-secondary education, but for a radical increase in college education for those under age 35. And it wasn't just a call for increased enrollments, but for actual graduates.
The proposal was--there is no finer word for it--nuts.
As I pointed out at the time, in Cold Brine and The Battle of Bunker Hill, if you sat down and did the calculations on the basis of census data and actual enrollments, to grant 55 percent of young Americans college degrees by 2025 would mean awarding 129 million college degrees between 2009 and 2025--57 million more than would have been awarded at 2008 rates. Even if you think that is a good idea, American colleges and universities had then and still do not have anything like the capacity to accomplish it. To get there, colleges would need to more than double their enrollments and sustain them at that higher level. How many colleges and universities could have done that starting in 2009?
Where's the toughest battlefield in American education these days? Certainly New Orleans and Harlem host controversially high concentrations of charter schools, while New Jersey and Louisiana boast governors who challenge teachers unions with verve. But for downright nastiness, Southern California is ground zero.
SoCal earns this dubious distinction largely because of the educational establishment's rage over "parent trigger," a reform that's been on California's books since January 2010. It's a "lynch mob provision," declared Marty Hittelman, president of the powerful California Federation of Teachers. Why? Because it gives unprecedented rights to parents whose children are stuck in failing public schools. If more than 50% sign a petition, they can force a school closed, shake up its administration, or turn it into a charter.
The first parent trigger was pulled in December 2010 at Compton's McKinley Elementary School. Immediately, McKinley teachers began leaning on parents to rescind their signatures--first at a PTA meeting, then by pressuring their kids during school. Soon the school district insisted that parents validate their signatures by appearing at McKinley with official photo identification--naked intimidation of those who were undocumented immigrants and a violation of the First Amendment, said Los Angeles Superior Court. Yet the district persisted, soon rejecting every parent's signature on technicalities that are still tied up in court a year later.
Tutorial: Dr Pangloss instructs his young charge in this illustration by Quentin Blake for the Folio Society's 2011 edition of Voltaire's 'Candide'
What Are Universities For?, by Stefan Collini, Penguin, RRP£9.99, 240 pages
In recent years publishers have taken increasingly to decorating their covers with endorsements. Had I been asked to contribute some such remark on this book, I would have proffered (borrowing from Evelyn Waugh), "Up to a point, Lord Copper."
Professor Stefan Collini, who holds a chair in intellectual history and English literature at Cambridge University, appears to come from what we might describe as the unregenerate, conservative left. Old Tories may have a little sympathy for his approach, particularly his refusal (at the very least) to make an idol of the market and his passionate defence of autonomous institutions. He does not go as far as that other, alas now dead, Cambridge man of the left, Tony Judt, in denouncing the "system of enforced downward uniformity" that has clipped and confined meritocracy over the past 40 years. But you feel that he would have quite liked to go that far, if only he had dared challenge the phony egalitarianism that has played such havoc with our education system.
LIKE a city unto itself, Stuyvesant High School, in Lower Manhattan, is broken into neighborhoods, official and otherwise. The math department is on the 4th of its 10 floors; biology is on the 7th. Seniors congregate by the curved mint wall off the second-floor atrium, next to lockers that are such prime real estate that students trade them for $100 or more. Sophomores are relegated to the sixth floor.
In Stuyvesant slang, the hangouts are known as "bars." Some years ago, the black students took over the radiators outside the fifth-floor cafeteria, and the place soon came to be known as the "chocolate bar," lending it an air of legitimacy in the school's labyrinth of cliques and turfs.
It did not last long. This year, Asian freshmen displaced the black students in a strength-in-numbers coup in which whispers of indignation were the sole expression of resistance. There was no point arguing, said Rudi-Ann Miller, a 17-year-old senior who came to New York from Jamaica and likes to style her hair in a bun, slick and straight, like the ballerina she once dreamed of becoming.
QS is proud to announce the first ever QS Best Student Cities ranking. Based on a complex set of measures taken from public information, surveys and data submitted as part of the QS World University Rankings, the results provide a new way of comparing the best cities around the world in which to be a student.
Click the city name in the table below in order to view the full details and profile for that city, including a list of all of the qualifying educational institutions, population size, quality of living, affordability and student mix.
Today, in honor of the 11th annual "Introduce a Girl to Engineering Week," I encourage you to do just that. Our country faces a critical need to increase the number of students entering engineering programs and professions if we are to continue to be a global leader in economic output, innovation and technology.
A recent study, performed by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, reported a staggering statistic: Only 11% of practicing engineers are women. The clear answer to this chronic shortage lies in encouraging more women to enter a profession in which they are currently outnumbered nearly nine to one.
And what better city to lead this effort than Milwaukee? Here, we have some of the best resources in the nation, including Marquette University's state-of-the-art new facility for its College of Engineering, UWM's anticipated construction of an engineering and research facility and, of course, the renowned Milwaukee School of Engineering, which boasts an impressive 95% placement rate for its graduates.
To effectively reach young women, we need to paint a more accurate picture of the rich professional life of an engineer and the many paths one can take with an engineering degree. Too often, people picture a career spent mulling over mathematical and scientific equations and a vast array of technical jargon. Yes, these are critical components of the profession, but it isn't the end-all and be-all of a profession related to engineering - and it might not be the most appealing selling point to women.
I went back to Bowles and Gintis to compare their results to those of Greg Clark that I posted about recently. The largest correlation reported by Bowles and Gintis for intergenerational earnings is 0.65, obtained when fathers' and sons' earnings are averaged over multiyear periods, whereas Clark finds a (roughly) 0.7 -- 0.8 correlation between parental and children's social and economic status. Clark was studying the past 200 years, using rare surnames, whereas Bowles and Gintis concentrated on the modern era. Even the lower value of 0.42 (more typical of results cited by Bowles and Gintis) implies some persistent stratification, as shown in the figure below.
The Bay Area's biggest city next week is expected to issue a five-year forecast that will likely become part of a rancorous debate over how to overhaul municipal pensions and ease their growing burden on San Jose.
With costs outpacing revenue, the city has laid off or cut the positions of more than 20% of its work force in the past three years.
The forecast, which is issued every year by the Office of Management and Budget, will be used by the City Council and mayor to decide what cuts need to be made to reach a balanced budget.
San Jose officials and unions disagree over the size of the city's projected pension burden, but the city's actual costs have been rising for years as returns on pension-fund investments haven't kept pace with retiree payouts, which were negotiated during better economic times.
About 25% of San Jose's police and fire retirees receive pensions of $100,000 or greater, according to city records.
How much say should students have in how their mandatory fees are used?
It's a topic UW-Madison sophomore Sarah Neibart is attempting to bring some attention to by contacting reporters and writing letters to the editor.
Here are some basics: A full-time student attending UW-Madison pays about $540 in mandatory segregated fees each semester (a figure that's on top of tuition, which is $4,835 per semester for an in-state undergrad). Over the course of an entire academic year, this means students across campus contribute a combined $42 million in segregated fees.
When a unit on campus utilizes these dollars, it must submit an annual budget proposal outlining how they're spent.
Labor was even overshadowed by a multitude of non-policy-related issues Democrats launched at Republicans, such as (ultimately recalled) Sen. Randy Hopper's extra-marital affair and a conservative group's use of a narrator whose voice is strikingly similar to that of actor Morgan Freeman. (Incredibly, it's not the first time somebody has accused Republicans of mimicking the star's patented Delta drawl in TV ads)
"I think that the terminology of collective bargaining is not one that if you did a poll resonates because of the way the right-wing has killed private sector unions," says John Matthews, executive director of Madison Teachers Inc., the local teachers union.
Jim Palmer, the head of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, agrees, and says unions should take some of the blame for the public's lack of understanding of labor rights.
No matter what candidates are saying, however, Matthews makes one point clear:
"Any Democrat would be better than Walker."
Middleton-Cross Plains School Board President Ellen Lindgren plans to run for the Assembly, making her the first candidate to enter the race for the redrawn 79th District.
Lindgren, who announced her candidacy earlier this week after filing in November, has served for 17 years on the Middleton-Cross Plains Area Board of Education, the last six as its president.
She says if elected she would continue to serve as president of the School Board.
Lindgren, 62, frequented the Capitol during the height of the protests. She says she went to protest Republican Gov. Scott Walker's $1.6 billion cut in state aid to education to "show solidarity with teachers" and to oppose what she described as a time when "our democracy was being shredded" by politicians.
It didn't dawn on me that there might be a few holes in my education until I was about 35. I'd just bought a house, the pipes needed fixing, and the plumber was standing in my kitchen. There he was, a short, beefy guy with a goatee and a Red Sox cap and a thick Boston accent, and I suddenly learned that I didn't have the slightest idea what to say to someone like him. So alien was his experience to me, so unguessable his values, so mysterious his very language, that I couldn't succeed in engaging him in a few minutes of small talk before he got down to work. Fourteen years of higher education and a handful of Ivy League degrees, and there I was, stiff and stupid, struck dumb by my own dumbness. "Ivy retardation," a friend of mine calls this. I could carry on conversations with people from other countries, in other languages, but I couldn't talk to the man who was standing in my own house.
It's not surprising that it took me so long to discover the extent of my miseducation, because the last thing an elite education will teach you is its own inadequacy. As two dozen years at Yale and Columbia have shown me, elite colleges relentlessly encourage their students to flatter themselves for being there, and for what being there can do for them. The advantages of an elite education are indeed undeniable. You learn to think, at least in certain ways, and you make the contacts needed to launch yourself into a life rich in all of society's most cherished rewards. To consider that while some opportunities are being created, others are being cancelled and that while some abilities are being developed, others are being crippled is, within this context, not only outrageous, but inconceivable.
More than 30 percent of American adults hold bachelor's degrees, a first in the nation's history, and women are on the brink of surpassing men in educational attainment, the Census Bureau reported on Thursday.
The figures reflect an increase in the share of the population going to college that began in the mid-1990s, after a relatively stagnant period that began in the 1970s. They show significant gains in all demographic groups, but blacks and Latinos not only continue to trail far behind whites, the gap has also widened in the last decade.q
University of Wisconsin-Madison professors Julie Underwood and Julie Mead are expressing concern over the growing corporate influence on public education in an article published Monday.Related:
In particular, they are highly critical of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which connects conservative state legislators with like-minded think tanks, corporations and foundations to develop "model legislation" that can be enacted at the state level.
Underwood is the dean of UW-Madison's School of Education, while Mead chairs the ed school's department of educational leadership and policy analysis. The two make their opinions known in an article they co-authored for the March issue of Phi Delta Kappan magazine, which serves members of the PDK professional organization for educators.
Underwood says much of the information in the article is an outgrowth of research she conducted while helping get the ALECexposed.org website up and running last summer.
How much do election-year firewalls cost to build? For the state's largest teachers union, $1.57 million.
That's how much the Wisconsin Education Association Council said last week it will spend trying to make sure four Democratic state senators are re-elected - enough, WEAC hopes, to keep a Democratic majority in the 33-member state body.
Quentin Rowan published a novel, called Assassin of Secrets, under a pseudonym last year. It had been on sale for 5 days before anyone noticed that almost every word of it was plagiarised. Half of the novel alone is made up of various extracts from Charles McCarry's writing, and the other half stitches bits and pieces of Robert Ludlum, John Gardner, Adam Hall, and a couple of others together. As is inevitable in these cases, it soon came out that much of Rowan's past work was plagiarised too, but Assassins of Secrets makes for an interesting case study in modern plagiarism.
How do you get people who hate each other learn to resolve their differences democratically? How do you get them to believe in ballots not bullets?
What if the answer is "public schools" and the evidence for it is in our own history during the first half of the twentieth century?
In the years spanning about 1890-1930, two institutions--public schools and the foreign language press--helped generate this trust among the massive wave of eastern and southern European immigrants who came to the U.S. during that time. This is not a traditional "melting pot" story but rather an examination of a dynamic educational process.
The majority of these immigrants were dramatically different from the native born Americans they encountered here. Most immigrants knew no English, worshipped at synagogues or Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox churches, and had little knowledge of democracy. Many native born Americans viewed this "invasion of immigrants" as akin to the onslaught of the barbarians who destroyed Rome. Indeed, some argued that these newcomers were genetically incapable of becoming Americans.
Well, that covers everyone who appeared in my column. One might see all of this as damage control, but I didn't think the column was all that damaging. Anyway, here is Nerad's text:Dear friends,
Community input on our preliminary plan to close the achievement gap is off to a good start. We held our first input session this week at West High School and had 50 participants who spent two hours learning more about the preliminary plan and providing us input on how to make it better.
I couldn't be more pleased with the start of this conversation, and I look forward to it continuing in the coming weeks. We are holding 12 more sessions between now and the end of March -- from our larger community conversation to smaller neighborhood-based sessions.
You can read more about the sessions in WISC's editorial, "closing the gap together." I agree that this is the most important issue we face as a community
For language lovers, the facts are grim: Anglophones simply aren't learning them any more. In Britain, despite four decades in the European Union, the number of A-levels taken in French and German has fallen by half in the past 20 years, while what was a growing trend of Spanish-learning has stalled. In America, the numbers are equally sorry. One factor behind the 9/11 attacks was the fact that the CIA lacked the Arabic-speakers who might have translated available intelligence. But ten years on, "English only" campaigns appeal more successfully to American patriotism than campaigns that try to promote language-learning, as if the most successful language in history were threatened.
Why learn a foreign language? After all, the one you already speak if you read this magazine is the world's most useful and important language. English is not only the first language of the obvious countries, it is now the rest of the world's second language: a Japanese tourist in Sweden or a Turk landing a plane in Spain will almost always speak English.
The share of American workers in the science and engineering professions fell slightly in the past decade, ending what had been a steady upward trend in the proportion of workers in fields associated with technological innovation and economic growth.
Workers in technical fields ranging from architecture to software design accounted for 4.9% of the labor force in 2010, according to a new analysis of Census data being released on Friday, down from a peak of 5.3% in 2000.
Before 2000, the share of these knowledge workers had increased in every 10-year Census since 1950, according to the Population Reference Bureau, a nonprofit demographic research group in Washington that conducted the study. While the total number of workers in these fields continued to grow in the 2000s, along with the rise in total population, they now account for a relatively smaller slice of the work force.
Professor Chung Yue-ping of Chinese University smiles a lot. It's not because he is one of eight recipients of the university's latest Outstanding Teacher Award, though. That's just the way he is.
Since working as a primary school teacher in the early 1970s, he has made a point of focusing on his students' strengths rather than their weaknesses, so he is not easily frustrated in his work. His open, non-judgmental style made him popular with students of all ages, some of whom are now school principals and even professors.
"AVID/TOPS has been an awesome experience for me," says Alexis Tecuatl, a senior at Madison East High who has been in the AVID/TOPS program for about two and a half years and will be attending the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh next fall.
"I found out about UW-Oshkosh through AVID/TOPS. We did college visits and we went to a lot of different universities around Wisconsin and Oshkosh really stood out to me," Alexis remembers. "I'm going to be kinda nervous because I'm the first one [in my family] going to college. But I am excited."
AVID is college readiness system that includes an elective course focused on organizational strategies, study skills, critical thinking, tutorial support and career and college awareness. In addition, the Boys & Girls Club through TOPS provides full-time student coordinators in each of the four high schools, summer internships, after-school mentors, and provides funding for more than 40 tutors during the elective course and a variety of college and career field trips.
Madison East High School senior Delia Ross remembers her freshman year band teacher telling students in her class they would be performing in a renovated auditorium before they graduated.
But despite a fundraising effort launched two years ago with the goal of raising $3.5 million by East's 90th anniversary this year, the auditorium remains an ugly, acoustically dysfunctional lecture hall full of uncomfortable burnt orange bowling alley chairs.
"It's really disappointing," said Ross, who is performing in an upcoming production of Macbeth. "My brother will be a freshman next year, so maybe in his time they'll get a new theater."
The chances of that and other district building improvements happening are getting a boost from an administration proposal to create a program to match private donations for building projects with public funds.
New York City on Friday released internal rankings of about 18,000 public schoolteachers who were measured over three years on their ability to affect student test scores.Related:
The release of teacher's job-performance data follows a yearlong legal battle with the United Federation of Teachers, which sued to block the release and protect teachers' privacy. News organizations, including The Wall Street Journal, had requested the data in 2010 under the state Freedom of Information Law.
Friday's release covers math and English teachers active between 2007 and 2010 in fourth- through eighth-grade classrooms. It does not include charter school teachers in those grades.
Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, who has pushed for accountability based on test scores, cautioned that the data were old and represented just one way to look at teacher performance.
"I don't want our teachers disparaged in any way and I don't want our teachers denigrated based on this information," Mr. Walcott said Friday while briefing reporters on the Teacher Data Reports. "This is very rich data that has evolved over the years. ... It's old data and it's just one piece of information."
A tweet today by State Superintendent Tony Evers on the Department of Public Instruction's (DPI) desire for authority to intervene in charter schools caught my eye. Evers, who was responding to a New York Times editorial, wrote:"if weak charters stay open, students are deprived & public $ wasted. Our ESEA waiver will help us take action."Indeed, the state's federal No Child Left Behind waiver will give DPI the ability to intervene in and eventually close charter schools it deems low performing. The waiver, if granted, will undermine the very idea of charter schools.
The charter school concept is simple:
In 2009, linguist David Harrison first encountered the speakers of Matukar Panau, a language common to about 600 people in two small villages in the hills of Papua New Guinea.
The villagers had no written alphabet, no electricity and no computers. But they had heard of the Internet and believed that if their language were to survive, they would have to put it on the Web.
Now they can. At a science conference here Friday, Mr. Harrison, of Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, and his colleagues at National Geographic's Enduring Voices project unveiled a set of online talking dictionaries that for the first time document the sound, syntax and structure of Matukar Panau and record seven other unusual, vanishing languages, including Tuvan in Mongolia, Chamacoco in Paraguay and Ho, Sora and Remo in India.
In considering Fisher v. University of Texas, let's acknowledge a key factual point about affirmative action: We have good tools for predicting college success, and those tools work about equally well across all ethnic groups and even for rich legacy candidates.
Race-based preference produces a population of students whose intellectual strength varies strongly according to race.
In comprehensive statistics compiled as part of Duke University's Campus Life and Learning project, Asian-American students averaged 1457 out of 1600 on the math and reading portion of the SAT, compared to 1416 for whites, 1347 for Hispanics and 1275 for blacks. There is every reason to believe that a similar pattern holds at almost every elite university in America, with some notable exceptions like Caltech. Is this pattern justifiable, or even beneficial to the students with the lowest scores?
The data show that SAT score and high school grade point average are good predictors of success at Duke for all ethnic groups, as well as for wealthy legacy students. Those students admitted with weaker SAT scores and high school grades are more likely to drop out of challenging majors like science and engineering, and less likely to earn good grades in any major.
Via a kind reader's email:
I am pleased to ask you to help me spread the word about a public lecture by Carl Wieman, who directs the Science office of the White House Office of Science and Technology. As the attached flyer indicates, he will present a public lecture (topic: taking a scientific approach to science teaching) on:
Tuesday, MARCH 20, at 2 pm
in the DeLuca Forum of the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery
(tasty reception to follow)
I believe many on campus who care about STEM teaching and learning would want to know about this lecture; thank you very much for helping by sending the attached flyer to your various relevant mailing lists, and asking folks to post copies of the poster.
Susan B. Millar, PhD
Founding Director Emeritus, Education Research Integration Area
Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery
Senior Scientist, Wisconsin Center for Education Research
University of Wisconsin-Madison
People talk a lot about China. It seems as though its economy has been steadily gaining steam longer than Justin Bieber has been alive. But here's something else that is increasing significantly in China: widespread interest in the French language and culture.
"Chinese students' interest in France is growing dramatically," Anthony Chaumuzeau, cultural counselor of the French embassy in China, told Beijing Today last year. "They go there to study not only history and language but also for an understanding of what's happening economically and politically." Chaumuzeau estimated that the number of Chinese students in France would likely exceed 50,000 by 2015.
Chinese students aren't just learning French. The number who are coming to the United States and gaining fluency in English is also skyrocketing. (Nearly 160,000 Chinese students enrolled in U.S. colleges in 2010, an all-time high, up 23% from the year before.)
This city's school board voted Wednesday to shake up the teaching staffs at 17 low-performing public schools, handing Mayor Rahm Emanuel a victory in his battle with the teachers union and highlighting an increasingly aggressive stance on education overhauls by a number of Democratic mayors nationwide.
The Chicago Board of Education voted to close five elementary schools, phase out one high school and "turn around" 10 schools by firing all the teachers and making them reapply for jobs. One other high school will convert to a new school with a health-science focus.
Six of the schools would be given over to the Academy for Urban School Leadership, a non-profit organization with a record of student achievement and close political ties to Mr. Emanuel.
How do you teach children about the birds and the bees in the digital age? Touchscreens mounted on the walls of the Family Planning Association's mobile classroom point to changing approaches. Housed in a converted truck, the facility is now equipped with tablet PCs and gaming devices instead of shelves of books and videos.
"Turgid texts are being replaced by interactive video games and animation about how babies are conceived in the womb," says the FPA's education manager, Grace Lee Ming-ying.
Though schools no longer separate boys into shop class and girls into home economics, girls continue to be under-represented in math and science fields, something Barbara Bitters has spent much of her career trying to change.
Bitters, 62, recently retired as assistant director for the career and technical education team at the Department of Public Instruction where she spent 37 years.
Bitters helped establish the women's studies program at UW-Madison while a graduate student from 1972 to 1975. That led to a job at DPI helping the state figure out the implications of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the law that prohibits gender discrimination in schools.
In December, the White House honored Bitters as one of 12 "Champions of Change" for leading the effort to recruit and retain girls and women in what are referred to as the STEM fields.
basic set theory,
countability and counting arguments,
and number theory.
Emphasis is placed on providing a context for the application of the mathematics within computer science.
Chicago Public School officials are making big changes during their first year in office, but there's a group of people feeling shut out once again -- parents.
Despite a well-publicized commitment to involve parents in the city's public education system, some of them are not happy with how Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his school team are following through. And some say they are still not familiar with the new Office of Community and Family Engagement.
"I've heard of the new department, but I quite honestly have no idea what they do," said Jonathan Goldman, a parent and Local School Council member at Drummond Montessori School, a sought-after magnet program.
The district has long been accused of excluding parents from its decision-making process. "To be fair, C.P.S. has never, under any recent administration, been a bastion of parent engagement," Goldman said.
To address that reputation, Jean-Claude Brizard, C.P.S. chief executive, created the office last July and said it would focus solely on parents and school communities. He said the new office would concentrate the responsibilities of several former departments -- the Office of Local School Council relations, the Office of External Affairs and other now-defunct departments -- into one unit that would report directly to him.
Major Democratic Party donor and education reform advocate Nick Hanauer has responded to Washington Education Association president Mary Lindquist. Lindquist wrote an open letter to PubliCola yesterday criticizing Hanauer for denouncing the Democrats' position on ed reform and announcing that he planned to meet with Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna.Locally, I've heard a number of Democrats express similar frustration with the Party's intransigence on education issues.
Here's Hanauer's response to teachers' union president Lindquist.Dear Mary,
Thank you for your recent open letter to me and PubliCola. It will not surprise you to hear that I disagreed with some of it.
Can you seriously argue that the kids and families in South Seattle don't deserve better educational opportunities?
As a lifelong Democrat and committed progressive, I too believe that McKenna's reflexive Republican positions on social issues, taxation, and the role of government are deeply misguided.
But if McKenna and Republicans are wrong in some areas, it hardly excuses us Democrats from being wrong on school reform. Here at least, McKenna is on the right track, and we are not.
It's called "the Bennett Hypothesis," and it explains--or tries to explain--why the cost of college lies so tantalizingly out of reach for so many. In 1987, then Secretary of Education William J. Bennett launched a quarter century of debate by saying, in effect, "Federal aid doesn't help; colleges and universities just cream off the extra money by raising tuition." Now Andrew Gillen, research director of CCAP--the Center for College Affordability and Productivity--has tweaked the data and produced a sophisticated "2.0" version of the hypothesis. It's filled with heavy math, game theory and terms like "inelastic fairly vertical curves." You probably won't read it. We know. But it's important. So here are some smart people who have read it, and have something to say: Peter Wood, Hans Bader, Richard Vedder, George Leef and Herbert London.
One of the odd stories to come out of the French-speaking province of Quebec last year was the announcement that intensive English courses would be offered to students in state schools. Odd, because in the past half-century, much of the Quebecois identity has been built on resisting English. Authorities throw the book at people for doing things that would be normal elsewhere in Canada. Last autumn, the Montreal newspaper La Presse revealed that two real estate executives had made presentations in English to a Montreal-based pension fund, violating the province's language laws, which give workers the right to a French-speaking environment.
Now, school authorities in Quebec City are questioning whether the time is ripe for introducing those English classes after all. Their hesitation has left French-speaking parents angry. On one hand, those parents want their children to cherish their own community and its language. On the other hand, English is the international language of business, and their children will have a hard time climbing the social ladder without it.
English must be accorded a higher stature in schools, be given greater emphasis and longer exposure hours, coupled with the appropriate teacher training.
A CHANCE meeting with a distinguished member of the Education Review Panel at the 2011 Mahathir Science Award presentation recently revealed to me that the panel sees a definitive future in the learning of Science and Mathematics in English.
We sincerely hope that this decision by the panel is conveyed to the Prime Minister and his Government in an honest, pure and unadulterated manner.
This brings to mind the roundtable sessions in 2008 of which I attended three of five. While the contention was whether to stick to using English in primary schools or revert to mother tongue, there was hardly mention of any change at the secondary level.
Seniority rules and teacher transfer rights will remain intact in Oakland Unified this year, despite the superintendent's call for a change.
The recent debate in Oakland has centered on the transfer of displaced teachers -- those whose schools have closed, whose positions have been cut, or who are returning from leave. Traditionally, those teachers have chosen their new job from a list of openings for which they are eligible, with the most senior employee having the first pick and principals having little to no say.
Superintendent Tony Smith had hoped to work out a different arrangement in Oakland, in an initiative called "mutual matching," arguing it would lead to better placements and, ultimately, higher student achievement. Teachers would visit prospective schools and list their top choices; school principals would do the same, and the district would make the final placements based on both sets of preferences.
Some teachers welcomed the idea. Others expressed strong objections, or felt the process would be too rushed to put in place for the fall. This week, without the union support it needed, the district acknowledged that it had run out of time.
The Wisconsin Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) is conducted as part of a national effort by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to monitor health-risk behaviors of the nation's high school students. These behaviors, in turn, result in the most significant causes of both mortality and morbidity during youth and adulthood. The behaviors monitored by the Wisconsin YRBS include traffic safety; weapons and violence; suicide; tobacco use; alcohol and other drug use; sexual behavior; and diet, nutrition and exercise.
The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) has administered the YRBS every two years beginning with 1993. The YRBS is administered to students in Wisconsin's public high schools. Survey procedures were designed to protect the privacy of students by allowing anonymous and voluntary participation. Local parent permission procedures were followed before administration, including informing parents that their child's participation was voluntary.
PROBLEM: Developmental dyslexia affects about half of children with a family history of this disorder and five to 17 percent of all kids. Since it responds to early intervention, is there a way to diagnose children who are at risk before or during kindergarten to head off academic and social difficulties?
METHODOLOGY: Children's Hospital Boston researchers led by Nora Raschle performed functional MRI imaging in 36 preschool-age children who were about five years old while they performed phonological tasks requiring them to decide whether two words started with the same speech sound. Half of the the kids came from families with a history of dyslexia.
RESULTS: Children with a familial risk for dyslexia tended to have less metabolic activity in brain regions tied to processing language sounds than kids in the control groups. Those with high activation in these areas generally had better pre-reading skills, such as rhyming, knowing letters and letter sounds, knowing when two words start with the same sound, and being able to separate sounds within a word (like saying "cowboy" without the "cow").
Like many youngsters, Kade Chan Pak-hei was a keen gamer when he was in primary school. When he entered secondary school, however, his interest waned.
"My main reason for not playing with electronic gaming consoles when I got older was that I found a new hobby - origami," Kade, 17, says. He says he first became interested in the Japanese paper-folding craft after encountering it on the internet and being fascinated by the creative possibilities it offered.
"I started to try my hand at it when I was in Form One, and since then I've been addicted."
Like many youngsters, Kade Chan Pak-hei was a keen gamer when he was in primary school. When he entered secondary school, however, his interest waned.
"My main reason for not playing with electronic gaming consoles when I got older was that I found a new hobby - origami," Kade, 17, says. He says he first became interested in the Japanese paper-folding craft after encountering it on the internet and being fascinated by the creative possibilities it offered.
"I started to try my hand at it when I was in Form One, and since then I've been addicted."
Article on first Input Session (held at West last night) in Feb. 22 Wisconsin State Journal.
Whatever your position/perspective may be, please participate in these important discussions that will have a significant impact on the future of MMSD schools and the students that they serve.
• Feb. 28 (Tuesday), Urban League of Greater Madison, 2222 S. Park St.
• Feb. 29 (Wednesday), La Follette High School, 702 Pflaum Road.
• March 1 (Thursday), Memorial High School, 201 S. Gammon Road.
• March 6 (Tuesday), East High School, 2222 E. Washington Ave.
• March 7 (Wednesday), Bridge Lakepoint Waunona Neighborhood Center (in Spanish), 1917 Lake Point Drive.
• March 8 (Thursday), Lussier Education Center, 55 S. Gammon Road.
• March 10 (Saturday), Vera Court Neighborhood Center, (10 a.m. to noon), 614 Vera Court.
• March 14(Wednesday), CUNA Mutual, 5910 Mineral Point Road.
• March 17 (Saturday), Centro Hispano (in Spanish) (10 a.m. to noon), 810 W. Badger Road.
• March 22 (Thursday), Allied Family Center, 4619 Jenewein Road. [Time not listed in paper]
• March 27, East Madison Community Center, 8 Straubel Court. [Time not listed in paper]
Chicago has 210 neighborhood elementary schools that serve 95% or more low-income students (largely grades prekindergarten to eight in Chicago). Chart 1 depicts the distribution of schools in the state in terms of the numbers of percent low-income schools and shows that a very high percentage of schools that are 95% or more low-income are located in the Chicago Public Schools. The two major focuses of this study are:Competition!
To compare the impact in these very high-poverty neighborhood schools of two fundamentally different strategiesfor improving them.
To assess the potential of each of these two strategies for radically improving the quality of education and fostering fundamental improvement in hundreds of very high-poverty elementary schools in Chicago and other major cities.
The two reform strategies being compared are:
Britain's education system is failing both business and the workforce, a group of leading employers including Adecco, the recruiter, Deloitte, the professional services firm, and Cisco, the network equipment company, has warned.
The companies say the gulf between what employers need and the skills of students emerging from schools and colleges is widening. They call for an urgent effort by government, educators and businesses to equip prospective employees with the interpersonal skills as well as the qualifications they say are lacking.
1. Teachers' union President Mary Lindquist has written an open letter in response to the controversial email that major Democratic Party donor Nick Hanauer sent to his fellow Democratic donors (first published here on PubliCola last week) trashing the Party's position on ed reform and informing his Democratic comrades of his intention to meet with Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna.
Lately it seems that public policy and the reformy rhetoric that drives it are hardly influenced by the vast body of empirical work and insights from leading academic scholars which suggests that such practices as using value-added metrics to rate teacher quality, or dramatically increasing test-based accountability and pushing for common core standards and tests to go with them are unlikely to lead to substantial improvements in education quality, or equity.
Rather than review relevant empirical evidence or provide new empirical illustrations in this post, I'll do as I've done before on this blog and refer to the wisdom and practices of private independent schools - perhaps the most market driven segment and most elite segment of elementary and secondary schooling in the United States.
Really... if running a school like a 'business' (or more precisely running a school as we like to pretend that 'businesses' are run... even though 'most' businesses aren't really run the way we pretend they are) was such an awesome idea for elementary and secondary schools, wouldn't we expect to see that our most elite, market oriented schools would be the ones pushing the envelope on such strategies?
Fads rule much of American education. A good example is block scheduling. In most high schools in the Washington area -- and much of the rest of the country -- that innovation has replaced the traditional 45-minute daily class periods with classes that meet every other day for as long as 90 minutes each.
The block approach, influenced by the work of University of Virginia school administration expert Robert Lynn Canady, swept through this area in the 1990s. I had to explain it in several stories then. It was not easy. The array of colors and numbers used to distinguish each class was bewildering.
Still, about three-quarters of this region's high schools, and many middle schools, have stuck with block schedules, even though many educators have a difficult time explaining why. Studies say neither block Arlington County schools Superintendent Patrick K. Murphy (Arlington County schools) nor regular schedules make much of a difference.
After reading the highlights of Dan Nerad's proposal to close the student achievement gap, I see the same liberal method of looking for solutions by throwing more money at the problem.
His proposal will cost the district a projected $100 million-plus over five years. This is an average of $800 per year across the 25,000 student body. Madison is already 13 percent higher in cost per student, now $13,493 versus the state average of $11,894 per student per year, according to the Madison School District website.
Julie Rodriguez wanted improvement -- but not a wholesale change of staff -- at her children's school in the High Desert community of Adelanto. So late last year she signed what she thought was a petition, circulated by parents she considered friends, for more programs and better teachers.
But she learned that what she actually signed was a petition to convert Desert Trails Elementary School into a charter campus, a change she says she had specifically told organizers she didn't want. Furious, Rodriguez has rescinded her signature and is working to help other parents do the same before the Adelanto school board votes Tuesday on whether to accept the petition.
"They lied to me," Rodriguez said of supporters, "and now it's a big old mess."
About 50 people attended the first public input session for the Madison School District's plan to close the achievement gap.I have to agree with Steve Prestegard's concern regarding the use of the term "investment" and education:
Superintendent Dan Nerad said during a brief overview of the issue that he couldn't promise every idea would be included in the final plan. But he did promise that every idea would be looked at.
"Whether it is this plan or another plan, if we are to make things right for our children and eliminate achievement gaps, we must invest,"
Nerad's plan for closing the School District's persistent racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps calls for spending an estimated $105.6 million over the next five years on a mix of new and existing strategies.
Nearly every politician or candidate speaks of education spending as an "investment." Some claim any kind of government spending is an "investment," but education is always so termed, particularly by teacher unions, as if the more spending on schools, the better schools will be, and the better our country will be.Ideally, the local District would critically evaluate current programs and initiatives prior to significantly increasing spending.
Anecdotally, this doesn't make sense, at least in Wisconsin. The state has spent more than nearly every other state for decades for our alleged 'great schools." Based on education "investment," Wisconsin should have the number one state economy in the U.S. And yet, in such measures of economic health as per capita personal income growth, business start-ups and incorporations, Wisconsin has trailed the nation since the late 1970s.
Kaleem Caire, via email:
Kaleem Caire, President/CEOMuch more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
February 21, 2012
Dear Friends & Colleagues.
I read yesterday's article by Paul Fanlund of the Capital Times titled, "On School Gap Issue, there's also a Gap between Leaders." In his article, he addresses the perception of a gap that exist between Madison School's superintendent, Dr. Daniel Nerad, and myself.
Is there a gap?
Yes. So far as our proposal for Madison Preparatory Academy is concerned, there is a gap. Dr. Nerad did not support the proposal. I do. I still believe, as thousands of others do, that Madison Prep would benefit children and our public schools, and should be supported.
However, beyond Madison Prep, the only gaps that may exist between Dr. Nerad and me are our different personal and professional backgrounds and experiences; his full silver top and my emerging grey hairs; my love for old school hip hop, break dancing and the cupid shuffle, and his love for disco, the mashed potato and the electric slide; and perhaps our respective views about how innovative and aggressive we should be in pursuing change in public education. Although, I did see Dr. Nerad bobbing his head to some Jay-Z, Nas and Kanye West tunes while driving down Park Street last week. We actually might not be that far apart after all (smile).
But these are authentic differences that can be mitigated and parlayed into a powerful and effective partnership, which is something that I am very interested in. More importantly, our mutual concerns outweigh our differences, and that is where we, the media and the public need to focus our attention.
What's immediately concerning is that this summer, we will learn that another 350 Black, 200 Latino and 50 Southeast Asian teenagers stopped attending school this year. Our children cannot wait any longer. They need transformation change in our schools and community right now. They need Madison to empower them, their families and embrace their cultural differences. They need Madisonians to support and inspire them, not quietly complain about which neighborhood in Chicago they might come from.
Can Dr. Nerad and I work together?
Of course we can; and, we do. This week, we will announce that our organization has secured private funding to partner with MMSD to operate 14 College Readiness Academies between March and December 2012. These academies will provide four-weeks of free ACT prep classes, test preparation and academic skills development to 200 MMSD high school juniors and seniors.
We will also announce the hiring of the Project Director for the South Madison Promise Zone Initiative that we are spearheading. This initiative will address the need for a comprehensive and collaborative approach to addressing the multifaceted needs of children and their families within a specific geographic region of South Madison, with the ultimate goal being the creation of an environment where all children are ready for college. MMSD is a partner in this initiative, too.
Additionally, our agency operates the Schools of Hope Initiative, serving more than 1,300 students in several MMSD middle and high schools in partnership with the United Way of Dane County and other agencies and community partners. We have also worked over the last 2 years to identify federal and national funding to support the work of MMSD and its students, and have helped the District think through some its diversity hiring strategies.
Beyond these things, we are exploring partnerships to expand our children's involvement in recreational sports and the arts; to give them opportunities to have fun and be kids. We are also planning a new, major annual fall event aimed at building broad community support for our children and schools and restoring fun and inspiration in public education. "School Night" will be an entertaining celebration that recognizes the unsung heroes in our schools, classrooms and community who are going above and beyond the call of duty to provide quality educational experiences for kids.
What About Dr. Nerad's Plan?
We look forward to sharing our thoughts and suggestions in the coming weeks. However, don't expect a thoughtless or categorical critique of Dr. Nerad's plan. Instead of adding more divisive discourse to public education and highlighting where we disagree with Dr. Nerad's plan, our proposal will flesh out "how" MMSD could, in a cost effective manner, identify and manifest the level of system-wide changes and improvements that we believe are needed in order to eliminate the achievement gap and stop the flow middle class families out of our community and public schools.
Yes, Madison Prep will be included as one valuable strategy, but only because we believe there is much to be gained from what the school can accomplish.
In the end, regardless of our differences, I believe Dr. Nerad and I want the same thing. We want our children and schools to succeed, and we want to keep dancing and having fun for as long as our knees will allow. I remain ready and willing to do whatever it takes to ensure that we achieve these aims.
President & CEO
Urban League of Greater Madison
THIRTEEN languages in Germany are on UNESCO's endangered list. Kiezdeutsch, the argot of inner-city teenagers, is not one. "Morgen ich geh Kino," meaning "Tomorrow I'm going to the cinema," a young Kreuzberger may say. In standard German that would be "Morgen gehe ich ins Kino", with the verb restored to second place and a missing "to the" added. Words borrowed from Turkish (lan, meaning dude) and Arabic (yalla!, or come on!) might also intrude.
You will hear such language in Berlin and other big cities. Most Germans assume that the speakers are immigrants or their children. Not necessarily, says Heike Wiese, a linguist at the University of Potsdam who has written a new book on the topic. "All types of kids in multilingual areas," including those with German roots, speak Kiezdeutsch. There are foreign analogues: straattaal (street language) in the Netherlands; Rinkeby-svenska, named for a multi-ethnic Stockholm neighbourhood in Sweden.
So economist Don Drummond says Ontario's education spending should be cut back? Quel surprise.
The Sun has questioned school spending right back to the Dalton McGuinty Liberal government's first budget in 2004.
A government graph I wrote about then showed student enrollment dropping by 80,000 over the next four years, but spending growing by $2.1 billion.
We pointed this out not because we hate kids, but because McGuinty's spending on education has never matched reality, nor has there been any solid plan for how to pay for it.
Let's go through what Drummond had to say:
Drop education spending to 1% annual growth: It didn't have to be this bad, but since the Liberals jacked up spending to 4.6% annual increases, even though enrolment has dropped by 120,000 kids in the last decade, that's what it will take to right the ship. This is partly delayed pain -- with enrolment dropping, jobs should have been scaled back years ago, but instead, the Liberals preserved them through new programs such as smaller primary class sizes -- then added to the costs by doling out healthy raises.
Restrain teacher compensation: Good luck. Drummond suggests keeping this in line with what other public sector workers have received, which still means an increase, but more modest than the 11.4% to 12.55% teachers got in their last four-year contract.
I've been thinking about constructive criticism-the kind we give to graduate students or mentees-and how they receive it. Over the past few years I've noticed a bit of push back from students and mentees. My faculty friends and colleagues have told me they get the same kind of push back. Now, don't misunderstand me, there is nothing wrong with push back-you have to stand up for what you believe. However, I've watched individuals struggle and have difficulty with their job search while neglecting to follow any of the advice their mentors have given them. Sometimes these students are headstrong. Other times they are convinced that they know what is best and that they know how to build a faculty career. Here are a few examples:
I have had students and mentees who present at academic conferences on a regular basis but they don't publish the resulting papers. Many times, I've attended their conference presentations and have been thoroughly impressed with their ideas and skill. I always follow up, asking them to revise the paper and send it to a journal. However, unlike their counterparts who follow my advice, these students put the paper away for months, sometimes years, and it is no longer relevant or others have already published similar work. When they receive feedback from prospective employers that questions their lack of publications, they are frustrated.
More than 2,000 new students entered the school voucher program this year after the Legislature relaxed requirements. That's the good news. The bad news? Much of that growth came from kids whose parents already were paying out-of-pocket for their children to attend private or religious schools, according to a new study by the Public Policy Forum. The trend is the result of a misguided shift in philosophy that we warned against when lawmakers were considering these changes last year.George Mitchell:
The 12% growth in students using taxpayer-funded vouchers is due in part to the elimination of the voucher enrollment cap and the relaxation of income eligibility limits. These changes have muddied the playing field for families who would not be able to send their children to private or religious schools if not for the choice program.
Milwaukee has no viable future without a base of middle-class families. The alternative? Detroit, where municipal bankruptcy looms and large, once-thriving swaths of the community are deserted. If that becomes Milwaukee's fate, the biggest losers clearly would be low-income families struggling to get ahead.
The unsuccessful effort to lure Kohl's Corp. to the Park East corridor vividly illustrates this issue. Local officials were prepared to commit more than $100 million in taxpayer funds to bring jobs, families and the resulting economic boost to Milwaukee. Had Kohl's said yes, the Journal Sentinel would have generated stories and editorials explaining the potent ripple effect on Milwaukee's tax base, its housing market and the retail community at large.
Contrast that reaction with the Journal Sentinel Editorial Board's concern, spurred by a flawed Public Policy Forum analysis, that some Milwaukee families who previously paid private school tuition are now eligible for the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program. The board wants to roll back an expansion of the program so only low-income families can benefit, a retreat that ultimately would hurt those families the most.
EACH year, it seems, a new book emerges to capitalize on the parental insecurities of Americans. Last year it was Amy Chua's "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother." This time it's Pamela Druckerman's "Bringing Up Bébé."
But rather than trying to emulate the strict discipline supposedly instilled by child-rearing techniques in other countries, it may be more useful to consider the science of successful parenting in general. Like their Chinese and French counterparts, American parents can make a child's mind strong -- by enlisting the child as an ally.
In any culture, the development of self-control is crucial. This ability, which depends on the prefrontal cortex, provides the basis for mental flexibility, social skills and discipline. It predicts success in education, career and marriage. Indeed, childhood self-control is twice as important as intelligence in predicting academic achievement. Conversely, poor self-control in elementary school increases the risk of adult financial difficulties, criminal behavior, single parenthood and drug dependence.
via a kind Jeanie Bettner email.
Hey look, here's a big omnibus article by David Pimentel of the Florida Costal School of Law on all the ways you are potentially legally screwed if you let your kid do stuff that was considered normal at some point in the less intensively parented past.
Even one generation ago, the norms were different for determining the age at which a child no longer needed a babysitter. The expected minimum age for babysitters has gone up as well, although in the few states that have legislated specific ages, the thresholds vary widely. In Illinois, it is illegal to leave a child under 14 unsupervised for an "unreasonable period of time"; in Maryland, in contrast, a 13-year-old is considered old enough not only to care for himself, but to babysit infants. The days when 11- and 12-year-old neighborhood kids were considered competent babysitters appear to be long gone. This development is all the more marked considering that mobile phones have created a virtually instant line of communication between the sitter and the parents, something unheard of in earlier eras, when younger sitters were considered acceptable.
AT Public School 11 in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, the senior president of the Parent Teacher Association is a vivacious chatterbox who ascended the school's executive board the way many do: forging bonds with parents and teachers, doing an impressive stint as treasurer and finally being drafted for the top slot by a growing fan base.
The one thing this executive officer did not do is man the cupcake table.
"I'm not into the baking," said Juan Brea, an admission that once would have been unheard-of in the PTA.
Mr. Brea, a 43-year-old who favors football, blue blazers, Polo cologne and chopping wood in his Catskills backyard on weekends, is part of the changing face of the PTA. What was once an easygoing volunteer group made up mostly of stay-at-home moms has begun to give way to male leadership.
Wisconsin DPI, via email:
Work progresses toward new state assessments, through the multi-state Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium [Blekko / Clusty], in which Wisconsin has played an active role.
Smarter Balanced recently unveiled a new website which includes several features for keeping tabs on the assessment project and accessing resources related to assessment development and Common Core State Standards [Blekko / Clusty] implementation.
An interactive timeline shows when specific steps were, or will be, completed. (Some recent developments were the completion of content specifications in mathematics and English language arts/literacy, and IT architecture specifications to guide the eventual system.)
For example, the consortium intends to work with groups of teachers from each participating state to develop test items, pilot the new assessments, and ensure a successful transition to the tests, beginning in 2012-13 and continuing through 2013-14.
The website also includes ways to stay up to date on the group's work through email or social media.
I am quoted in the article. This is the full response that I made to the proposition that it would be terribly "hard to confront achievement gap issues head on without potentially fueling feelings that regular or high-achieving kids are not front and center in Madison, perhaps even increasing white flight. It must be a very hard balancing act."
That may be the case, but to divert attention from a very real crisis rooted in over 50 years of failed effort to focus attention on achievement and opportunity for African American students, is something that I cannot accept. It has taken a lot of work and controversy to get the issue of the achievement gap (no, it is not a "gap") on the table. How ironic (and morally reprehensible) it would be to refocus on white flight while letting the opportunity to unite around racial achievement slip through our fingers.
I realize that my answer is blunt and edgy. I was going to apologize but I really cannot. How long must this community live with its head in the sand when it comes to racial justice? And how long must families of color hear words of concern followed with "but we are worried about our white middle class families leaving?" Please watch the video taped testimony from December 19, and then think about what it is that you really want to write. If you do not want to watch 5.5 hours of painful commentary, then please watch (separate video) James Howard's statement during the board comments on how and why we each voted the way that we did.
To be honest, I would find the column that you propose to write to be offensive at best. Especially to the families who provided over 10 hours of testimony at 3 minutes per person, with very few repeat testifiers, over the course of the Madison Prep debate. Some of those families have waited over 40 years for someone to take their aspirations and their children's achievement seriously. And as thanks for raising the issue, parents of African American students are being told that the problem is really broken homes, lack of value for education, poor parenting, addiction, and poverty. Well, I AM one of "those parents." James Howard, the president of the school board, is one of "those parents." As are [names redacted], and many many other parents.
I wonder if you and others are aware that not all middle, upper middle class, and/or affluent people are are white. Or the number of African American kids who can achieve but are sent direct and indirect messages that they really aren't "high achiever" material. Or that many white middle class families are every bit as unhappy and uncomfortable with the racism that they see in our schools and in the people who wish to cater to it in order to prevent the white flight of privilege. The "real" problem is not white flight. It is the failure to take achievement seriously, particularly when it comes to students of color.
There is a very real reason why many UW African American faculty, and African American religious and business leaders who have school age children will not live in the Madison district. There is a very real reason why many African American graduates of our schools will not send their children to Madison schools. There is a very real reason why families who can afford to send their kids to Edgewood, St. James, and other schools are doing so. It boils down to where they think their kids will have the best chance of being seen and nurtured as achievers, and that is not the Madison Metropolitan School District.
I am sorry to say this, but I find it repulsive that, particularly during black history month, you are interested in writing a pity piece for the people who are always at the forefront of our concerns, while ignoring the very real, raw, and painful experience of the people who cannot get any acknowledgment of their conditions. And, frankly, if that is what you got out of your conversation with Dan Nerad, I would respectfully suggest that the ability of this district and this leader to address achievement need no further explanation.
John Corcoran graduated from high school and college and taught high school for 17 years without knowing how to read or write. How did he pull it off? Why did he do it? Where did it all lead? This is Part 1 of his story.
While the overall cost of out-of-district placements for special education students is expected to drop next year, some individual placements continue to run the district $100,000 and beyond.Nashua School District's 2011 budget is $93,425,591 for 11,895 students ($7,854 per student).
The most expensive placement this year is for a student at the Austine School for the Deaf in Brattleboro, Vt. The estimated tuition cost for this year is $158,096.
There are also two other placements costing upward of $100,000 this year, including one student at Crotched Mountain in Greenfield for $136,934 and another student at the Nashoba Learning Group in Bedford, Mass., for $104,570.
TJ Mertz sent a kind email noting that another Nashua document describes spending as follows: FY 2012 operating budget: $144,475,503 for 11,895 students = $12,145/student.
Global Report Card comparison:
The owner of a $235,000 home would see an average increase in their taxes of $95 a year for the next five years. Starting in 2017, property taxes would decrease because other debt will be retired, according to district officials.Oregon's current budget spends $48,672,281 for its 3604 students in the 2011 budget. ($13,505/student). Madison's current budget spends $14,858.40 per student.
The referendum, one of just three in the state on Tuesday, includes a second question asking for $150,000 a year for operating costs. The primary question asks for a long list of improvements, including $25.3 million for work at the high school and $3.2 million at the middle school.
A new fieldhouse at the high school, including new locker rooms and a fitness center, would provide space for gym classes and practices, and more seating for sporting events and graduation.
When the main gymnasium was built more than three decades ago, there were 600 students at the high school compared to 1,150 today. The project would bring the school in line with other Badger Conference facilities in Waunakee, DeForest and Stoughton.
"Parents interview us now. They just don't move to the district," Superintendent Brian Busler said. "This is all part of the entire puzzle that parents are looking for."
Schools: States such as Florida have been using systems of giving every school a grade, A to F.Related: Wisconsin's Read to Lead Task Force.
Gov. Scott Walker and others like that system, but a state task force favored - and the waiver request proposes - a system in which all schools will be rated on a scale of 1 to 100, based on such things as student scores and educational growth and progress in closing gaps between student groups.
Parents will know how their kid's school rates - with the idea that they will make decisions based on putting their children in high-rated schools. The schools themselves can be rewarded or forced to make major changes based on their ratings.
Consider this system likely to happen.
Principals and teachers: For the first time, if the waiver request is approved, there will be a statewide system for rating principals and teachers - and half of the rating will be based on student performance, including (but not limited to) test scores.
In other words, they will be rated in large part on whether their students are learning. A lot of this remains to be worked out.
Individual ratings will not be made public, but, without the union protections that died in last year's earthquake, the ratings could be used in decisions on pay, assignments, promotions or firings.
Consider this likely to happen.
s a child growing up in Arizona and Georgia college towns during the 1980s and 1990s, the filmmaker Astra Taylor was "unschooled" by her lefty, countercultural parents. "My siblings and I slept late and never knew what day of the week it was," Taylor writes in a new essay in the literary journal N+1. "We were never tested, graded, or told to memorize dates, facts, or figures. ... Some days we read books, made music, painted, or drew. Other days we argued and fought over the computer. Endless hours were spent watching reruns of 'The Simpsons' on videotape, though we had every episode memorized. When we weren't inspired--which was often--we simply did nothing at all."Fascinating...
When last I checked, Tommy Jordan's video "Facebook Parenting: For the troubled teen," where he shoots up his daughter's laptop, had been viewed more than 25 million times on YouTube.
Jordan had previously clashed with his 15-year-old daughter about appropriate behavior on her social media networks. Then, after spending more than $100 and several hours upgrading her laptop, he ran across a complaint letter she wrote and posted on her Facebook wall that put him over the edge.
The next day he filmed his video. It shows a frustrated man so disappointed by his daughter's expletive-laced digital diatribe that he feels the best course of action is to publicly castigate her by shooting a clip of exploding-tip bullets into her laptop and posting it online.
In December, MetroTrends graded America's 100 biggest metros on measures of economic security. Today we offer a new report card, with grades reflecting the opportunity gaps facing African Americans and Latinos.Madison was given a C on Racial Equity. Milwaukee is the worst while Albuquerque is the best.
We're all well aware of the national story. Despite the huge achievements of the civil rights era, neither African Americans nor Latinos (on average) enjoy the same school quality, job opportunities, or homeownership access as whites. But the picture isn't the same in every metro area. So our report card scores metros on five factors: residential segregation, neighborhood affluence (for the average black, Latino, and non-Hispanic white), public school quality (for the average black, Latino, and non-Hispanic white student), employment (among working-age adults), and homeownership.
Let's start by looking at the grades for black-white equity.
Surprised? The top scorers are mostly small- to medium-sized metros in the south and west (Charleston, SC, and Riverside, CA, for example), while the worst performers are big metros in the midwest and northeast (including New York, Boston, and Chicago).
When I first saw these results, I thought perhaps that so few African Americans live in the high-scoring metros that their high performance is irrelevant. For some top scorers (like Albuquerque and San Jose), that's definitely the case. But lots of other metros scoring As and Bs on this report card have substantial African American populations.
"ALL-WHITE neighbourhoods are effectively extinct," according to "The End of the Segregated Century", a recent report by the Manhattan Institute, a New York think-tank. Only 0.5% of America's 70,000 neighbourhoods are now all-white. In fact, American cities are today more integrated than they have been since 1910. And since 1960 the proportion of black Americans living in "ghetto neighbourhoods" (more than 80% black) has dropped from nearly half to about 20%.
Until the Great Migration north, beginning around 1910, most of the black population lived in the rural South. Then they were pushed into ghettos because of restrictive deed covenants and blatant discrimination by landlords. Although the Supreme Court ruled against race-based zoning in 1917 and New York City outlawed housing discrimination in 1958, real change did not begin until the 1960s during the civil rights era when segregation was still near its peak.
The 2012 Brown Center Report on American Education distills the results of studies to examine the state of education in the United States. In particular, the report focuses on education policy, student learning measures, trends on achievement test scores and education reform outcomes.
Highlights from three of the studies featured in the report are:
Predicting the Effect of the Common Core State Standards on Student Achievement: The Common Core will have little to no effect on student achievement. The quality or rigor of state standards has been unrelated to state NAEP scores, Loveless finds. Moreover, most of the variation in NAEP scores lies within states, not between them. Whatever impact standards alone can have on reducing within-state differences should have already been felt by the standards that all states have had since 2003.
Measuring Achievement Gaps on NAEP: The Main NAEP consistently reports larger SES achievement gaps than the Long Term Trend NAEP. The study examines gaps between students who qualify for free and reduced lunch and those who do not; black and white students; Hispanic and white students; and English language learners and students who are not English language learners.
For parents who feel like they're failing to make sure their kids get enough sleep, this may be comforting: Your parents also failed, as did your grandparents and great-grandparents.
At least that's according to a study released Monday in the journal Pediatrics, which found that children haven't been getting the recommended hours of shuteye for at least a century.
The study looked at 32 sets of recommendations from the years 1897 to 2009. The researchers then gathered data on actual sleep time from roughly the same time period.
It used to be called illegitimacy. Now it is the new normal. After steadily rising for five decades, the share of children born to unmarried women has crossed a threshold: more than half of births to American women under 30 occur outside marriage.
Once largely limited to poor women and minorities, motherhood without marriage has settled deeply into middle America. The fastest growth in the last two decades has occurred among white women in their 20s who have some college education but no four-year degree, according to Child Trends, a Washington research group that analyzed government data.
Among mothers of all ages, a majority -- 59 percent in 2009 -- are married when they have children. But the surge of births outside marriage among younger women -- nearly two-thirds of children in the United States are born to mothers under 30 -- is both a symbol of the transforming family and a hint of coming generational change.
Research designed to understand the effect of text messaging on language found that texting has a negative impact on people's linguistic ability to interpret and accept words.
The study, conducted by Joan Lee for her master's thesis in linguistics, revealed that those who texted more were less accepting of new words. On the other hand, those who read more traditional print media such as books, magazines, and newspapers were more accepting of the same words.
The study asked university students about their reading habits, including text messaging, and presented them with a range of words both real and fictitious.
Mineral Point Opera House. Showing this weekend, via a kind reader's email.
After school each day, dozens of students at Oakland's McClymonds High School crowd through a generic-looking door and into a space that offers them amenities that are few and far between in their West Oakland neighborhood.Related: Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Just off the reception area of the school's new Youth and Family Center is a dance studio with wooden floors, a large mirror and a sound system. A few more steps in is the learning center with brand new computers. Toward the back is a living-room-like area with a small stage, a big-screen television and comfortable sofas for meetings or informal gatherings.
A door at the end of a hallway opens to a Children's Hospital Oakland clinic waiting room. In the clinic, free medical care is available to all students and their siblings, no appointment necessary.
The center is part of a growing national trend to create full-service schools for children who come from difficult family situations.
Notes and links on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Thanks to Amy Good for forwarding the links.
I lost patience with teachers' unions when union officials in New York City defended a teacher who had passed out in class, reeking of alcohol, with even the principal unable to rouse her.
Not to mention when union officials in Los Angeles helped a teacher keep his job after he allegedly mocked a student who had tried to commit suicide, suggesting that the boy slash his wrists more deeply the next time.
In many cities, teachers' unions ensured no one was removed for mere incompetence. If a teacher stole or abused a student, yes, but school boards didn't even try to remove teachers who couldn't teach.
"Before, you had to go smack the mayor in order to get fired," Reggie Mayo, the schools superintendent here in New Haven, told me.
Janine Guarino-McKown has every right to feel proud of her daughter Megan's resume. Compared with the clumsy work history presented by your typical recent college grad, it's a polished, professional and effective document: a crisp, beautifully formatted and compelling record of a star student's achievements and aspirations. And then there's the resume's authorship: Janine's the one who wrote it.
Back when Megan was finishing grad school in Dallas, the 25-year-old was busy studying for her boards and preparing for a medical rotation in the Australian outback. Janine, a retired health care administrator, had more free time, not to mention plenty of experience writing resumes for her friends -- why not do the same for her daughter? But she wasn't about to treat this as a pleasant little lark: To produce the two-page CV and cover letter template, Janine interviewed Megan closely over the phone, conducted a talent assessment and crafted a 147-word branding statement. Then she led her daughter through mock interviews and debriefed her after meetings with potential employers. And naturally, there was a little networking involved, as Janine introduced her daughter to a friend who knew the chief ER nurse at a local hospital.
Question: What do geography, Chinese language and culture, computer science, world history, and environmental science have in common?
Answer: They're apparently becoming a lot more popular subjects in high school, at least based on one national measure.
Participation in Advanced Placement tests in these subjects has grown most rapidly--from a percentage standpoint--when comparing the number of tests taken by the graduating class of 2011 with the class of 2010. That's based on my quick analysis of new data from the College Board's 8th annual AP Report to the Nation, which provides an interesting window into subject preferences among schools and students.
Next question: What do language and culture offerings in French and German have in common?
Such tax increase went nowhere when Democrats controlled both the House of Representatives and the Senate. With Republicans in charge of the House and able to filibuster almost anything in the Senate, the odds any of these tax proposals will pass this year are close to nil.
Much of his purported spending reduction is accounting legerdemain: he claims to save more than $800 billion from drawing down operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, but most of that was never going to be spent anyway. His cuts to Medicare and Medicaid consist almost entirely of squeezing health-care providers; benefits and beneficiaries are spared. There are painful cuts to discretionary spending excluding defence: it sinks from 3.1% of GDP in fiscal 2012 to 1.7% in 2022. Those cuts, however, were forced on him by budget deals last year, and it's not clear how the federal government is supposed to fulfill so many of its responsibilities, from running the courts to fighting forest fires, on a starvation diet. Mr Obama did omit nearly $1 trillion of further cuts set to begin next year under last year's budget deal (the "sequester"); he argued his budget provides a wiser alternative.
The chart above (click to enlarge) is an update of the chart from this CD post from about a year ago, showing medical school acceptance rates for Asians, whites, Hispanics and blacks based on data from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) for the years 2009-2011 (aggregated).
For 2011, the average GPA of students applying to medical schools was 3.53 and the average total MCAT score was 28, and the chart displays the acceptance rates for students applying to medical schools with average GPAs (3.40-3.59) and average MCAT scores (27-29) in the highlighted blue column, and the acceptance rates for those students with slightly higher and slightly lower than average GPAs and test scores in the other columns. In other words, the table displays acceptance rates by race and ethnicity for students applying to medical school with average academic credentials (or just slightly above or below average). Here are some observations:
The first of several information sessions for the Madison School District's dual-language immersion program for next school year is scheduled for Sunday at 3:30 p.m. at Centro Hispano, 810 W. Badger Road.
Dual-language immersion programs are open to all students and offer academic instruction in both Spanish and English. The program will be available next year at Chavez, Glendale, Leopold, Midvale, Nuestro Mundo and Sandburg elementary schools.
There's something about a spelling bee that makes us feel good about our youth and the intrinsic value of working hard to chase a dream.
Granted, we're a bit biased on the topic because the Wisconsin State Journal has been a long-time sponsor of the All-City Bee in Madison, as well as the Badger State Bee that has been contested since 1949.
Our latest interaction with top spellers came Saturday at Edgewood College, when 47 elementary and middle school students battled for a traveling trophy, and the right to represent Madison in the State Bee here on March 10.
In case you missed it, our All-City spelling champ is Aisha Khan, an 11-year-old sixth-grader from Spring Harbor Middle School. She was calm and cool, and earned her title by correctly spelling "thesaurus" to edge Lydia Anderson of Whitehorse Middle School.
In recent years, elected officials and policymakers such as former president George W. Bush, former schools chancellor Joel Klein in New York City, former schools chancellor Michelle Rhee in Washington, D.C., and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan have agreed that there should be "no excuses" for schools with low test scores. The "no excuses" reformers maintain that all children can attain academic proficiency without regard to poverty, disability, or other conditions, and that someone must be held accountable if they do not. That someone is invariably their teachers.Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland? by Pasi Sahlberg.
Nothing is said about holding accountable the district leadership or the elected officials who determine such crucial issues as funding, class size, and resource allocation. The reformers say that our economy is in jeopardy, not because of growing poverty or income inequality or the outsourcing of manufacturing jobs, but because of bad teachers. These bad teachers must be found out and thrown out. Any laws, regulations, or contracts that protect these pedagogical malefactors must be eliminated so that they can be quickly removed without regard to experience, seniority, or due process.
DPI has two official models for calculating high school completion rates. Regardless of which model is used, MMSD has lagging graduation rates for among its student subgroups.
As required by NCLB, a new four-year cohort graduation rate calculated by DPI provides an "on time" graduation rate. This calculation will eventually replace the so-called "legacy rate" which DPI has used for the past several years. That means that we could characterize our graduation rates in the following two ways:
The current issue of the Phi Delta Kappan magazine is devoted to articles on "Educating black males: Closing the gap: What Works, what doesn't."
Table of Contents -- February 2012, 93 (5)
Featured articles include:
Pedro A. Noguera -
Saving black and Latino boys: What schools can do to make a difference
Christopher Emdin -
Yes, black males are different, but different is not deficient
Sandra Hughes-Hassell,Casey H. Rawson,Lisa McCracken,Mary Gray Leonard,Heather Cunningham,Katy J. Vance,and Jennifer Boone -
Librarians form a bridge of books to advance literacy
Terry Husband - Why can't Jamal read?
Jerome E. Morris and Adeoye O. Adeyemo -
Touchdowns and honor societies: Expanding the focus of black male excellence
Gregory A. Patterson - Separating the boys from the girls
Tracey Sparrow and Abby Sparrow -
The voices of young black males
In 1988, Deborah Bial was working in a New York City after-school program when she ran into a former student, Lamont. He was a smart kid, a successful student who had won a scholarship to an elite college. But it hadn't worked out, and now he was back home in the Bronx. "I never would have dropped out of college if I had my posse with me," he told her.
The next year Bial started the Posse Foundation. From her work with students around the city, she chose five New York City high school students who were clearly leaders -- dynamic, intelligent, creative, resilient -- but who might not have had the SAT scores to get into good schools. Vanderbilt University was willing to admit them all, tuition-free. The students met regularly in their senior year of high school, through the summer, and at college. Surrounded by their posse, they all thrived.
As a nonprofit, Brown University has long enjoyed broad property-tax relief on its regal cluster of brick buildings in the state capital's best neighborhood.
Now, Providence says it's broke, and City Hall is pointing up College Hill at the Ivy League university, the city's largest landowner. Mayor Angel Taveras, a Democrat who took office a year ago, has already raised taxes and fees on local residents and businesses, renegotiated labor contracts, and closed four public schools seeking to close a budget gap that amounts to $22.5 million for the fiscal year ending in June.
Here's a depressing but documented comparison of California taxes and economic climate with the rest of the states. The news is breaking bad, and getting worse (twice a month, I update crucial data on this fact sheet):
REVISED: California has the 3rd worst state income tax in the nation. 9.3% tax bracket starts at $46,766 for people filing as individuals. 10.3% tax starts at $1,000,000. Governor Brown is putting on the ballot a prop to change the "millionaires' tax" to 12.3%, starting at $500,000. If approved, CA will be #1 in income tax rates. BTW, there's ANOTHER well funded proposition effort to raise the CA millionaires' tax to 15.3%. http://www.taxfoundation.org/files/bp59_es.pdf
Highest state sales tax rate in the nation. 7.25% (as of 1 July, 2011 - does not include local sales taxes).
http://www.taxfoundation.org/files/bp60.pdf Table #15
The agreement, announced at a news conference in Albany, allows school districts to base up to 40 percent of a teacher's annual review on student performance on state standardized tests, as long as half of that portion is used to analyze the progress of specific groups of students, like those who are not proficient in English or have special needs. It also offers other options: base 20 percent of the score on state test results and the other 20 percent on exams developed by the districts or by a third party, provided that the exams are approved by the state.
The remaining 60 percent of a teacher's score is to come from subjective measures, like classroom observations and professional development projects.
The resolution came after an all-night negotiating session in Albany and included concessions from both sides, like an agreement by the state to relax certain requirements on the way teachers would be rated. The clear winner is Mr. Cuomo, who used his broad powers under the state's budget process to push for a compromise.
One of the many privileges of having kids in the Los Angeles Unified School District is the accelerated education they get in official corruption, the stupidity of grownups, union strong-arming and many other topics - any topics other than reading, writing and arithmetic, that is.
The recent sex-abuse arrests of two teachers at Miramonte Elementary have become a feature of playground scuttlebutt and official conniptions. The school my children attend (separated from Miramonte by more than 15 miles, though both schools score in the "Least Effective" category in the L.A. Times' value-added assessment) is no exception.
Yesterday my daughters brought home copies of a flyer containing the principal's thoughts on the scandal. I guess this page of skylarking was intended to reassure us or something. I wouldn't take note of it at all except that one paragraph illustrates the pathology of public employees with stunning clarity:
n my sophomore literature class, I read a passage aloud from perhaps our best-known slave narrative, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, in which Douglass characterizes the nefarious effects of slavery on his new mistress, Sophia Auld:
The fatal poison of irresponsible power was already in her hands, and soon commenced its infernal work. That cheerful eye, under the influence of slavery, soon became red with rage; that voice, made all of sweet accord, changed to one of harsh and horrid discord; and that angelic face gave place to that of a demon.
But then I stopped and asked, "What does the word commenced mean?" Silence. "What about infernal?" Silence. "Accord?" Embarrassed smiles all around.
In the late nineteen-forties, Alex Osborn, a partner in the advertising agency B.B.D.O., decided to write a book in which he shared his creative secrets. At the time, B.B.D.O. was widely regarded as the most innovative firm on Madison Avenue. Born in 1888, Osborn had spent much of his career in Buffalo, where he started out working in newspapers, and his life at B.B.D.O. began when he teamed up with another young adman he'd met volunteering for the United War Work Campaign. By the forties, he was one of the industry's grand old men, ready to pass on the lessons he'd learned. His book "Your Creative Power" was published in 1948. An amalgam of pop science and business anecdote, it became a surprise best-seller. Osborn promised that, by following his advice, the typical reader could double his creative output. Such a mental boost would spur career success--"To get your foot in the door, your imagination can be an open-sesame"--and also make the reader a much happier person. "The more you rub your creative lamp, the more alive you feel," he wrote.
Previously on Bring It!, we reported on the Left's campaign of vilification directed at Kaleem Caire.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
The Left must discredit Mr. Caire for daring to disrupt the comfortable "Madison Way" by proposing a non-union charter school catering to students of color. He must be politically neutered for pointing out this liberal bastion's failure to graduate even half of its black students.
But how to disparage the president of the Madison Urban League, the founder of One Hundred Black Men of Madison, and the 2001 recipient of the city of Madison's Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award?
By the usual and convenient method of tying him to that Great Right-Wing Conspiracy in the Sky. The man for that job is one Allen Ruff. In comments before the school board and on his blog, avidly picked up and repeated by other liberal/progressive outlets, the Madison-based historian and social activist has been spinning an intricate web of guilt by association and seven degrees of separation in order to out Mr. Caire as a closet conservative, a secret tea partier, and a suspect capitalist.
A controversy broke out on Twitter earlier this week about an article in the Times Educational Supplement in which a teacher called Jonny Griffiths describes a conversation with a bright sixth-former who's worried about his exam results. "Apart from you, Michael, who cares what you get in your A-levels?" he says. "What is better: to go to Cambridge with three As and hate it or go to Bangor with three Cs and love it?"We've certainly seen such initiatives locally. They include English 10, Connected Math and the ongoing use of Reading Recovery.
The controversy was not about whether the teacher was right to discourage his student to apply to Cambridge - no one thought that, obviously - but whether the article was genuine. Was Jonny Griffiths a real teacher or the fictional creation of a brilliant Tory satirist? Most people found it hard to believe that a teacher who didn't want his pupils to do well could be in gainful employment.
Alas, Mr Griffiths is all too real. Since 2009, when I first mooted the idea of setting up a free school devoted to academic excellence, I've come across dozens of examples of the same attitude, all equally jaw-dropping.
Perhaps Wisconsin's Read to Lead initiative offers some hope with its proposal to tie teacher licensing to teacher content knowledge.
There are certainly many parents who make sure that their children learn what is necessary through tutors, third parties, personal involement, camps, or online services. However, what about the children who don't have such family resources and/or awareness?
Teachers union seniority rules, though, appear less benign.Related: Madison Prep supporters revamping proposal to overcome district objections; Seniority Changes
Joshua Cowen, a University of Kentucky assistant professor of public policy and administration, said there's "indirect evidence" on "whether unions' emphasis on seniority hinders academic achievement."
Specifically, teachers don't appear to get any better after three years on the job or after getting a master's degree.
"What this means is that school districts are spending a good deal of money to reward teachers for characteristics that are not really related to student success," he said.
Matthews, however, said MTI opposes the types of changes Madison Prep would seek, such as eliminating a provision that grants senior teachers priority for new job openings in the district.Arlene Silveira & Michael Flores Madison Teachers, Inc. Candidate Q & A
"Those are rights people have," Matthews said. "It gets us right back to why there was so much reaction to what Gov. Walker did last year."
Question 23 has implications for the future of our public schools, along with the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school:Given Act 10's negative Impact on Collective Bargaining Agreements, will you introduce and vote for a motion to adopt the Collective Bargaining Agreements (182 page PDF Document) negotiated between MTI and The Madison Metropolitan School District as MMSD policy?Both Silveira and Flores answered Yes.
A little while ago, I had a chance to visit New York's City Hall, where Michael Bloomberg - the former trader-turned-financial-information-mogul - now works as mayor. As I entered his empire, I experienced a small shock.Open air classrooms blew through the local education world some time ago.
During my career as a journalist, I have often walked through government buildings, and become accustomed to seeing a rabbit warren. Across the western world, senior officials typically work from offices interconnected by corridors, guarded by secretaries in ante-chambers.
Bloomberg's building in downtown Manhattan, though, is different. He sits in a vast, airy, open-plan room, surrounded by officials and banks of giant data screens (showing information on things such as traffic flows or public satisfaction with the police). Anybody holding a meeting is encouraged to sit on a central, raised dais, rather than scuttle into a private hole; the idea, as one employee explained, is to encourage a climate of transparency and collaboration. In theory, in other words, anyone in the mayor's office can see - and yell at - everyone else; much as they can on a modern financial trading floor or at a newspaper (which, of course, is no accident given that Bloomberg spent most of his career building the financial information giant that bears his name).
DANIEL RILEY, a young trainee teacher from west London, attended a school so bad that it was shut down while he was there. It was, he recalls with commendable understatement, an "unstructured" place. Fewer than 20% of pupils achieved five good GCSE passes, including mathematics and English (the main benchmark for secondary students, involving exams commonly taken at 16). There were fights. Some, involving knives, ended with arrests. There were drugs--the school drew its pupils from tough housing estates, and gangs prowled at the gates. The teaching was "not inspired," Mr Riley says, sticking with the understatement. He recalls lessons spent copying texts from books.
As happened to a few dozen failing institutions under the previous Labour government, Mr Riley's school was turned into an academy--a state school removed from local council control and given new freedoms over staffing and teaching methods. Six years on, Paddington Academy draws its pupils from the same estates. But the school is unrecognisable.
We ran a story Sunday about shifting demographics in inner-city neighborhoods such as West Oakland -- changes which have resulted in fewer school-age children in the area and declining public school enrollment.
Oakland, as a whole, lost 20 percent of its 5- to 17-year-olds between 2000 and 2010, according to the U.S. census; in West Oakland, it was 31 percent. (You can find a spreadsheet of West Oakland school enrollment trends here.)
I spent months looking for explanations and stories behind the census data, and we plan to continue following some of those threads in future pieces. One issue I want to explore, for example, is the school district's school choice policy, put in place in 2005, which allows families to enroll their kids at schools with available space outside their local attendance boundaries.
What do you see happening in the area 10 years from now?
Attending an elite secondary school will no longer be a guarantee of a university place, teachers warn.
As more pupils sit the new Diploma of Secondary Education, schools that have in the past enjoyed a university admission rate of close to 100 per cent say they expect to have to answer to parents disappointed when their children miss out.
Such is the concern over university places that a growing number of pupils are looking at courses abroad.
Traditionally, only about a third of pupils continued their studies and took A-levels after the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination papers at the end of Form Five. Under the "3+3+4" system introduced in 2009, pupils will complete three years of junior secondary education and three years of senior secondary education. Those qualified to go on to university will take four years to complete standard courses.
Poetry written by Madison high school students is popping up on placards in the rear passenger areas of Metro Transit buses as part of a Bus Lines poetry contest.
The nine winning poems were selected from hundreds of entries in the growing contest now in its third year. It's a joint effort of Metro Transit and the Madison Arts Commission.
"We like to do things that include community involvement, especially anything that includes schools and students. They're a big part of our ridership," said Jennifer Bacon, marketing specialist at Metro Transit. "Our riders really enjoy reading these poems."
Bacon said Metro Transit gets positive feedback from riders and requests for copies of the poetry.
Trail Shuttle is a Singapore-based effort from gaming company Rockmoon -- in collaboration with a local Ministry of Education program called FutureSchools@Singapore -- that uses technology to let students direct their own learning programs.
New York City's latest plan to reform special education services encourages public school principals to take more of the neediest students. An analysis by WNYC shows how these students are not distributed evenly across all schools. The analysis also found that high schools with the best report card grades often take smaller percentages of the special education students who are the toughest to educate.
The chart below shows that high schools that earned As and Bs on their annual progress reports tend to take a small share of special education students who require segregated classes, or what the Education Department calls "self-contained" classes. These are students who can't be included in mainstream classes most of the time because they require more intensive services. Some high-performing schools have just a sprinkling of these students, representing less than 2 percent of their overall population.
Still, it's not clear that there's a link between having a lot of these challenging students and getting a poor grade, contrary to what some critics contend.
International and local English-language schools are filled with the children of local families dissatisfied with the public system, lawmakers heard yesterday.
Legislator Emily Lau Wai-hing said the picture painted of the local system by a number of business chambers and international schools was humiliating. She said the government must act or the city's competitive edge might be jeopardised.
David O'Rear, chief economist of the General Chamber of Commerce, told the Legislative Council's education panel that even if there were more international school places available, local families would snap them up because the local system was not providing the quality of education they demanded. He said that from an economist's viewpoint, the problem of the lack of international school places would not be solved until local schools improved.
One year ago this week, Madison teachers voted overwhelmingly to walk off the job, and walk into the Capitol to protest the budget repair bill (later known as Act 10), which stripped public employees of most of their collective bargaining rights. As journalist John Nichols noted in a recent speech, "The teachers felt they had to go to the Capitol, because the Legislature had forgotten them."
The decision was not taken lightly, as Madison Teachers Inc. Executive Director John Matthews recalls: "I got notice of what the governor planned to include in his budget repair bill, and it was more than financial issues, it was going to start attacking workers' rights and that goes to the very core of the operation of what a union does, what it can provide for those it represents. When the word came that he was going to attempt to do away with public sector bargaining in Wisconsin, we're talking about 50 years of work that we have put into developing not only rights but wages and benefits."
Matthews noted that the timing happened to coincide with meetings that were already scheduled: "That very evening I had a scheduled meeting with the MTI board of directors and they immediately said, well, just get us the list of all of our reps and their phone numbers, we have reps at every one of 60 different work sites. ... And they sat there at that time calling those reps. ... Frequently in February and March our board of directors meeting is followed the next day by a representative council meeting. We had 120 people show up at that meeting. And I gave my same presentation, and immediately a motion came from the floor: We need to go to the Legislature tomorrow. And that motion passed immediately with little debate. The only discussion was are we gonna call in sick or are we going to call in well and simply tell the school district that we aren't going to be at work tomorrow?"
Sixty educators from across the nation roamed the halls and ringed the rooms of East Mooresville Intermediate School, searching for the secret formula. They found it in Erin Holsinger's fifth-grade math class.
There, a boy peering into his school-issued MacBook blitzed through fractions by himself, determined to reach sixth-grade work by winter. Three desks away, a girl was struggling with basic multiplication -- only 29 percent right, her screen said -- and Ms. Holsinger knelt beside her to assist. Curiosity was fed and embarrassment avoided, as teacher connected with student through emotion far more than Wi-Fi.
"This is not about the technology," Mark Edwards, superintendent of Mooresville Graded School District, would tell the visitors later over lunch. "It's not about the box. It's about changing the culture of instruction -- preparing students for their future, not our past."
The Forum's 14th annual census of schools participating in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP) finds that voucher use by Milwaukee students grew 10% in 2011-12 to 23,198 voucher students, reversing last year's enrollment decline. In addition, the data indicate that most voucher students are attending hyper-segregated schools that have low reading and math proficiency rates.
The dramatic increase in voucher use is likely due to changes to the program in the most recent state budget, which allowed schools outside Milwaukee to join MPCP and expanded eligibility to include families at higher income levels. As a result, more than 2,200 additional students are using vouchers worth $6,442 each, increasing the program's cost by $14.2 million.
Most of the new voucher users appear to have already been enrolled in private school. In 56 schools, the number of new voucher users exceed the growth in total enrollment in the school, while in 13 schools voucher growth and enrollment growth were equal. Over the past 10 years, total enrollment in the schools participating in the program has grown by roughly 5,300 students, while the number of voucher users has increased over twice as much.
For the Woonsocket School District, English has proved the most difficult teacher job to fill. In Britton-Hecla, it's industrial technology.
Even Sioux Falls, the state's largest and one of the best-paying school districts, routinely hires uncertified teachers for English Language Learner, special education and gifted classes.
While school leaders acknow-ledge good math and science teachers can be difficult to find, they question Gov. Dennis Daugaard's proposal to single out two content areas for $5 million in annual bonuses in order to entice more college students to teach.
"There are others equally as difficult. It's not just math and science," said Don Kirkegaard, Meade superintendent and president of the South Dakota Board of Education.
On October 20, 2011, after five months as an unemployed college graduate with a music degree, I read the news about Congress rejecting a bill that would have supported education. Republican Mitch McConnell, one of the main advocates for the bank bailouts, called this bill supporting public education a 'bailout.'
When I had left Chicago for the Cleveland Institute of Music four years before, I was idealistic and confident, with plans to help other young people learn about music and the arts. As I studied, I also listened to my dad, my coauthor here, and followed the news about the state of education in the United States. With regard to funding, the stories became increasingly disturbing. Music programs seemed to be dying a slow death. It struck me, finally, on that otherwise quiet day in October, that Congress cared more about avoiding a .1% tax on millionaires than keeping music programs in schools around the country.
Among the college-bound crowd of America's high school seniors, this is the time to exhale.
A happy few have been accepted by early admissions programs at the campuses of their dreams. Diana Orozco, a senior at Brentwood School, for example, has an enviable early offer from Yale University in her pocket and is ready to relax after all the drama of the college application process. "I have other priorities, like my sanity and being stress-free," said the 17-year-old from Hawthorne.
Many more high school seniors are awaiting answers from colleges over the next couple of months or so. But they too appreciate the emotional intermission of these winter months, when they suddenly have more free time. "I feel relief that I don't have something hanging on the back of my mind," said Elliott Lee, 17, who goes to Arcadia High and is trying his chances at nine California state universities and four private schools.
The NJEA over the last several months has indicated again and again that they are not especially troubled with the significant achievement gap between disadvantaged students and their more advantaged peers in New Jersey.
In December, the NJEA distributed a press release suggesting that my claim that New Jersey has a "shameful" achievement gap was a "straw man" and based on a "deliberate misuse of data." Instead, NJEA President Barbara Keshishian argued that while there is an achievement gap in New Jersey between white and African American students, and also high-income and low-income students, we really shouldn't worry about it because it is not as bad as the gap in some other states.
Earlier this week, when asked about students stuck in failing schools across the state, a leader of the NJEA said, "life's not always fair, and I'm sorry about that."
Before we look at the evidence, let's look at why this matters. The notion of an achievement gap may not be something that matters to the NJEA. But it matters to the nearly 40% of our students who can't read at grade level in 3rd grade - an indicator closely tied to future success in school. It matters to the thousands of students that drop out of high school or even before high school each year.
If you ask me, Jonathan Chait, a writer I respect, has made an ass of himself in a fight he picked with Veronique de Rugy over taxes and progressivity. She offended him by saying that America's income taxes are more progressive than those of other rich countries. Chait assailed her "completely idiotic" reasoning, called her an "inequality denier", "a ubiquitous right-wing misinformation recirculator" and asked if it was really any wonder he cast insults now and then at such "lesser lights of the intellectual world". (Paul Krugman said he sympathises. With Chait, obviously. The only danger here is in being too forgiving, Krugman advises. Chait may think the de Rugys of this world are only lazy and incompetent, but we know them to be liars as well.)
Just one problem. On the topic in question, De Rugy is right and Chait is wrong.
Income taxes in America are more progressive than in other rich countries--according to an authoritiative official study which, to my knowledge, has not been contradicted. The OECD's report "Growing Unequal", on poverty and inequality in industrial countries, includes a table that provides two measures of income tax progressivity in 2005. This is evidently the source of de Rugy's numbers. Here they are in an excel file. According to one measure, America's income taxes were the most progressive of the 24 countries in the sample, except for Ireland. According to the other, they were the most progressive full stop. (A more recent OECD report, "Divided We Stand", uses different data, a smaller sample of countries and a different measure of progressivity: the results are similar.)
It seems everyone has an opinion about what colleges and universities should do with their endowments. Use them to lower tuition! Let students attend for free! Improve facilities! Hire more professors! When the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) released its annual report on endowments last week, the big numbers grabbed headlines -- Harvard's endowment, the nation's largest, grew 15%, to $31.7 billion. Less attention was directed to Southern Virginia University's endowment of $574,000, which won't provide too many scholarships at a place that costs more than $18,000 a year. A few weeks ago I had lunch with a college president whose school has an endowment of about $20 million. It may sound like a lot of money, but he was consumed with fundraising efforts just to make ends meet. So the next time you hear someone pitching an idea for what a college should do with its endowment, think about these five reasons that the reality of how college endowments work is different from the rhetoric.
1. Most schools don't have them. There are 2,719 four-year colleges in the U.S. (and another 1,690 two-year colleges), according to the most recent Department of Education figures. Most higher-education institutions have no endowment, says William Jarvis, managing director and head of research at the CommonFund Institute, which helps NACUBO with its endowment surveys. But as with everything else around higher education, it's the elite schools -- which tend to be the ones that have large endowments -- that drive the conversation. Endowments just aren't a big factor at most of the institutions of higher education in this country.
Most of the controversy surrounding value-added and other test-based models of teacher productivity centers on the high-stakes use of these estimates. This is unfortunate - no matter what you think about these methods in the high-stakes context, they have a great deal of potential to improve instruction.
When supporters of value-added and other growth models talk about low-stakes applications, they tend to assert that the data will inspire and motivate teachers who are completely unaware that they're not raising test scores. In other words, confronted with the value-added evidence that their performance is subpar (at least as far as tests are an indication), teachers will rethink their approach. I don't find this very compelling. Value-added data will not help teachers - even those who believe in its utility - unless they know why their students' performance appears to be comparatively low. It's rather like telling a baseball player they're not getting hits, or telling a chef that the food is bad - it's not constructive.
For our liberal/progressive acquaintances have run out of excuses. After all, they have owned the public school system, through the teachers union and its Democratic Party subsidiary, for the last 30 years or so.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Nowhere more so than in Madison, Wis., where not a single conservative serves on the 20-member Common Council, where the seven members of the current Madison School Board range on the political spectrum from Left-liberal to Hugo Chavez. (Beth Moss, Marjorie Passman, and Arlene Silveira are Progressive Dane.)
History, not conspiracy: The Left has had its hands on the controls of city government since Paul Soglin beat Bill Dyke in 1973 and the Madison School Board since forever.
Madison's dominant Left is gagging a fur ball because its public schools have failed the very people liberal/progressives claim to champion. The Madison Metro School District graduates fewer than half - 48% - of its black students and only 56% of its Latinos.
Blacks and Latinos, where would they be without the tender ministrations of the liberal welfare state - living evidence of Republican perfidy! Clucked and cooed over in the tenured parlors of well-meaning West Side liberals - people like Nan Brien, Anne Arnesen, Barbara Arnold, and Carol Carstensen. All four ladies presided over this educational debacle as former Madison School Board members. Despite all evidence, these liberals are not one bit abashed by their failure, so strong is their faith in the powers of more spending and more government.
The Urban League's school must not be approved, the four women write, because "Madison Prep will not be accountable to the Madison School Board nor to the taxpayers of Madison." Touching, this sudden concern for the taxpayer. (Madison Prep Academy would cost the school district $17-28 million over five years. Supt. Nerad's plan would cost $105.6 million over five years.)
Some would say that the Madison School Board has not been accountable to its children of color OR its taxpayers.
A sample of how local schools would have performed last year had they been Graded by a new model just approved on Wednesday shows mixed results, with more high schools earning an A but more Fs and Ds overall.
According to information released by Tony Walker, a local representative to the Indiana State Board of Education, seven area high schools would have earned an A instead of the C they received under the old grading model. Those include high schools in Munster, Chesterton, Merrillville, Kankakee Valley, Hobart, Highland, Munster and Valparaiso.
Several high schools had complained about the C grades because they were capped at the level after they did not meet Adequate Yearly Progress goals, which are tied to federal No Child Left Behind requirements. However, Indiana was one of 10 states granted on Thursday a waiver from NCLB, meaning Hoosier schools no longer have to include AYP in how they calculate a school's grade. The new grading system, adopted by ISBOE, replaces NCLB to assess how schools are improving.
THE problem of the lack of interest in science as a subject among Malaysian students is not new.
In fact, it was identified in the study by the Ministry of Education, to be more precise the Educational Planning and Research Division (EPRD) and the UNESCO Institute of Education Planning (IIEP), Paris in 1990 on the provision of science education in secondary schools.
Its report published in 1993 identified that among the reasons why students were shying away from science were the poor teaching of the subject, the lack of priority given to the subject by school management, the lack of information on career prospects in science-related fields and the poor prospects of promotion for science-qualified graduates, the deployment of teachers and insufficient professional support and supervision. Allow me to elaborate on the issues one by one.
Economic class is increasingly becoming the great dividing line of American education.
The New York Times has published a roundup of recent research showing the growing academic achievement gap between rich and poor students. It prominently features a paper by Stanford sociologist Sean F. Reardon, which found that, since the 1960s, the difference in test scores between affluent and underprivileged students has grown 40%, and is now double gap between black and white students. (Graph courtesy of the Times.)
The children of the wealthy are pulling away from their lower-class peers -- the same way their parents are pulling away from their peers' parents. When it comes to college completion rates, the rich-poor gulf has grown by 50% since the 1980s. Upper income families are also spending vastly more on their children compared to the poor than they did 40 years ago, and spending more time as parents cultivating their intellectual development.
It may not simply be a matter of the rich getting richer, and the poor getting poorer -- although that certainly is a part of it. The growing differences in student achievement don't strictly mimic the way income inequality has skyrocketed since the middle of the 20th century. It's actually worse than that. Today, there's a much stronger connection between income and a child's academic success than in the past. Having money is simply more important than it used to be when it comes to getting a good education. Or, as Reardon puts it, "a dollar of income...appears to buy more academic achievement than it did several decades a ago."
Even more discouraging: The differences start early in a child's life, then linger. Reardon notes another study which found that the rich-poor achievement gap between students is already big when they start kindergarten, and doesn't change much over time. His own analysis shows a similar pattern.
Nancy Cooley has spent 20 years helping struggling young readers build a foundation for academic success.
Each day, Cooley works individually with students like Gavin Bass, a Rosemount first-grader, who need extra help mastering specific literacy skills using a program called "Reading Recovery." Interventions like these can help get a student back on course, possibly avoiding a learning-disability classification.
"It is designed to catch kids early on, before they feel like they are not successful," said Cooley, a teacher at Diamond Path Elementary School for International Studies in Apple Valley. She will work with students such as Gavin for a half-hour each day - drilling, quizzing and practicing early literacy concepts to improve core skills.
For Gavin, the program has been a big confidence boost, said his mother, Sarah Bass.
"He loves to read because of it," she said. "The intervention was everything we had hoped for and more. It has been so much fun for him, and he's very proud of himself. We wouldn't have known how to do this at home."
When Delara Chaoui travels with her family to Morocco or France, her third-grade son serves as the group translator, switching easily between English and French.
It's a skill he's developed at Milwaukee French Immersion School, one of a handful of language immersion programs in the city that are a magnet for many middle-class parents who value bilingualism, a world-focused curriculum and a diverse student body.
But a growing sense of concern about how another heavy round of budget cuts could affect the quality of the schools has moved Chaoui and other immersion parents to action in recent weeks, seeking greater public attention for programs they fear are threatened.
The most assertive are becoming a squeaky wheel in the Milwaukee Public Schools administration's wagon because they want recognition - an acknowledgment that their schools, children and they, as parent advocates, are assets to the district and that specialty programs need funding to stay vibrant and keep parents in the district.
Lisa Pieper stood Monday night in her daughter's fifth-grade classroom at Fernwood Montessori School and concluded that, set up for 30 students, it had no room to spare. She tried to picture what would happen if 36 to 38 students were assigned to the class, because that's what parents have been told might happen next year.
"There is just no room," she told members of the Milwaukee School Board the next night at a hearing on what is looming for the 2012-'13 school year in Milwaukee Public Schools.
"My daughter is complaining about not enough time with the teacher and too much noise," Pieper said. And that's with 30 kids in the room.
"Don't get me wrong," Pieper added, "she loves her school. This is her eighth year there. But even she can't see how she will continue to grow and learn in this environment."
So, all you who make decisions that shape life in Milwaukee schools, are you as smart as a fifth-grader? Can you see how students will grow and learn in the circumstances many may face by next fall? Or that many face even now?
In an epic spelling smackdown, a stoic Aisha Khan of Spring Harbor Middle School went affinity-to-thesaurus against sparkly Lydia Anderson of Whitehorse Middle School in the Madison All-City Spelling Bee.
After 224 words and three tense hours eliminated 45 other competitors Saturday, Lydia stumbled on "kruller," and Aisha calmly, slowly and correctly spelled it "cruller," followed by "thesaurus" to seal the match in the Anderson Auditorium at Edgewood College. Only then did the quiet sixth-grader permit herself her first smile of the morning.
Aisha, 11, who according to father Abdul Khader Patan "always seems to be reading a book," gets to test that calm March 10 in the Badger State Spelling Bee.
To Lydia, who is the alternate, mom Cindy promised to buy her a cruller on the way home.
Some students and their counselors say they might take annual magazine listings of colleges less seriously than in the past.
As she looked for potential colleges, Elisha Marquez researched school rankings in U.S. News & World Report and other publications. As a result, she found some East Coast schools that previously were not on her radar.
"It wasn't the most important factor," she said of the magazine's rankings. "But it did factor into my eventual decision of what schools to apply to," said the Eagle Rock High School senior, who is awaiting word from 14 campuses: UCs, Ivy Leagues and others.
But Marquez heard disturbing news recently. Claremont McKenna College reported that an admissions dean inflated freshman SAT scores for six years to boost its standing in U.S. News. Such cheating makes Marquez "a little more skeptical of such rankings."
A majority of Wisconsin schools will fall under the "needs to improve" category by 2014 if the state is not granted a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind law, and that could mean sanctions and mindless educational pain. With one of the largest educational achievement gaps between black and white students in the country, Wisconsin can't afford that.
The problem from the start with NCLB has been that the law labels way too many schools as failing, then dictates unworkable remedies. That has tended to drive down standards, weaken accountability and narrow the curriculum - all of which runs counter to the laudable original goals of NCLB when it was passed with bipartisan support under President George W. Bush.
A waiver proposal put together by the state would help remedy this no-win situation. We think that the state's proposal would boost standards, improve accountability and begin essential reforms to improve teacher effectiveness. We favor tough accountability standards - and, of course, improving student outcomes. But we don't believe the current federal law is doing that, which is why seeking the waiver is necessary.
If I were to attend a convention of dentists, I would expect to see a lot of panels and presentations on what dentists do. New veneer techniques, the best compounds for fillings, root canal methods, successful implant procedures and the like. Of course, there would be little to no attention to what patients do, other than whether they seem to be following the recommendations to brush, floss and use the rubber tip at home. After all, the dentists are the trained paid professionals and it is what they do that is important.
Conventions of history teachers, one might guess, would be different. Of course there would be panels and presentations on class management methods, grading practices, the best history slide shows and films, the recommended history textbooks, the most effective lecture techniques, and interesting field trips, perhaps.
However, as at the dentists' convention, surprisingly there would usually be almost nothing on what the patients (that is, the students) are doing in history. After all, the teachers are the trained and paid professionals and what they do is the most important thing.
Or is it? Remember, a dental patient's job is to shut up, sit there, and take it. Is this really what we want from students? In too many history classes, it is. A dental patient could, if it were practicable, leave her brain at home. A history student always has his brain with him in the classroom, ready for employment.
If someone were to propose a revolution in history instruction, it might be one that would accept the fact that students are not passive vessels, with cavities of ignorance for the teacher to drill into and fill with the necessary knowledge, but rather active, thinking, curious, growing young people with brains and a capacity for serious academic work.
But this is very hard for teachers to do in practice. When it is suggested that students might benefit from reading a complete history book on their own, and from working on a serious history research papers, objections are raised. Many history educators will claim that high school students are not able (can't?, won't?, never been asked?) to read a history book, and the universal argument is that serious research papers take too much of a teacher's time (the teacher's, not the student's time--when students are spending 53 hours a week with electronic entertainment media).
History teachers say they cannot afford to assign, guide, monitor, read and grade serious research papers by their students. So our students now, almost without exception, go off to college, to face the term papers and nonfiction books at that level, and thanks to us they have never read one complete nonfiction book or written one serious history research paper. They don't know how to do those things, because we have decided they couldn't do them and have not asked them to do such academic work.
Nothing of the sort happens in sports. "Scholar-Athletes" (so often celebrated for their athletic accomplishments in the local paper) are not sent off to play college basketball never having been taught to dribble, pass, and shoot the basketball, or to play football, never having been asked to block and tackle. That would be irresponsible of us, right?
I notice that, while high school chemistry classes require lab work, and biology classes require lab work (and laboratories cost money), the science teachers do not claim that students are incapable of such work or that they do not have the time to assign, guide, monitor, read and grade lab reports.
I do realize that these days, STEM is imagined to be more important than the ROOTS of history and academic literacy--the ability to read nonfiction books and write research papers--but perhaps if were to stop and think that our students are not passive dental patients, but young people with brains on board, fully capable of actually "doing" history, through reading books and writing papers, rather than just submitting to whatever presentation we have developed to keep them in their seats, then the day may come when a convention of history teachers will even include teachers talking about the academic work their students are doing in history, and even--imagine the day!--it might feature presentations by students on the papers they have written, and, in some cases, had published in The Concord Review. There have been 989 of such exemplary history papers now, by students from 46 states and 38 other countries since 1987, and on the few Emerson Prize occasions when the students were indeed allowed to talk at a meeting about their research, the teachers in attendance were well and truly interested to hear what they had to say.
"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
Rob Starbuck talks to leaders of the African-American community about the history of Madison's academic achievement gap and what can be done to reverse the alarming trend.
Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
The perils of another strategy, finding lower-cost ways to deliver state services, shows up in another Journal Sentinel story this morning on the notable absence of a common school accountability system for all schools receiving public revenue in a new piece of education legislation. Erin Richards writes of the bill:Related: notes and links on Madison's multi-million dollar Infinite Campus expedition... I'm not sure that a state-wide system makes sense. Rather, the state might create a set of data reporting "standards" that allows local Districts to collect and manage information in the way that they prefer.
What is not mentioned in the story is that an identical public, private, and charter school accountability system is functionally impossible, and undesirable. The presence of religion in private choice schools for example requires that the schools spend (and document the purpose of) every dollar they receive annually through the choice program so as not to have a surplus that could be seen as aiding religion. In comparison, having and carrying over a surplus in a public school district may actually be a sign of responsible budgeting. And the heart of the charter school concept is a third party authorizer that serves as the accountability agent. A common accountability system undermines the very idea of a charter school.
More important, if choice and charter face identical public school rules and regulations, there is every reason to expect them to be nothing more than poorly funded public schools that may save the state money, but not increase educational quality. What is needed is a way to ensure all of our schools are accountable and transparent, not identical regulation.
More from Erin Richards Wisconsin Accountability article, here:
Its elements include:
A proposal to create a fund to which private donors could contribute money to fund successful literacy and early-childhood development programs.
A proposal to require schools to annually assess all kindergartners for reading readiness.
A proposal to require new elementary and special education teachers to pass a more rigorous reading test.
A proposal for education schools to submit to DPI a list of graduates and their graduation dates, so that the state can better link practicing teachers back to their institution of training.
A proposal to evaluate the performance of all public school teachers and principals.
Some teachers teach from life.
My piano teacher played the piano. Like, all the time. He had to; it's not easy to make a living as a musician. Between tours, his band played restaurants, bars, weddings, anywhere they could get a gig. He wrote jingles for infomercials and TV shows, produced tracks for hopeless hip-hop artists. He'd sit in twenty-hour recording sessions, driving home as the sun came up. He chose this life because he loved music, and when he taught music, he was teaching what he did. In that way, his teaching was honest.
My improv teachers perform improv. Not as a hobby, but as a centerpiece of their lives. I remember John Remak casually beginning a talk with, "I've been doing improv for twenty years, I love improv, it's my life." It's my life. John makes his living as an attorney, but improv is his life. He teaches from his own experience, and in that way, his teaching is honest.
7. We overlook key research.More on Penelope Trunk, here.
When I relocated from NYC to Madison, I did tons of research. I knew everything about happiness and economic development and I knew what I was getting into even though I never stepped foot in Madison before I moved there.
But I ignored a crucial piece of research: The schools. I simply could not believe that the schools were as bad - relative to the rest of the country - as all the data showed. It's a university town, I reasoned. It's liberal. They must raise taxes a lot for schools. I couldn't believe it. But it was true. And I ended up having to leave Madison because the schools were so bad.
The Wisconsin State Journal, as part of its coverage of the Madison School Board election, is posing questions to the four candidates on various topics. Here the candidates react to Superintendent Dan Nerad's achievement gap plan.Seat 1 Candidates:
What are three strengths of the plan?
Mary Burke: Emphasis on K-3 literacy, research proves this is most effective in closing the achievement gap; AVID (expansion), in four years, I've seen AVID be effective, accountable and generate school support; and parental liaisons, but should be from low-income communities and trained to help parents engage in children's education.
Michael Flores: Those that have the direct impact on children and families, such as expanding AVID/TOPS, parent liaisons to bridge the cultural gap that can exist between home and school, and implementing the mentor academy to provide positive role models to struggling minority students.
Nichelle Nichols: The document presented to the community is a document of ideas. It is not yet a plan. When the community is presented with a comprehensive plan for addressing the achievement gap in schools, and I have had sufficient time to review it, I will be happy to share my view.
Arlene Silveira: Early literacy programming and intervention focus because being able to read is critical for success. Expansion of the school day/year options to provide more time for our students in a learning environment. Parent engagement models because caregivers are important partners in supporting the education of our youth.
Seat 2 Candidates:
President Obama's proposed 2013 budget will forecast a $901 billion deficit for next year, falling far short of his goal to halve the deficit in four years.
The budget, an outline of which was released by the White House Friday night, will show a higher deficit this year than in 2011, up from $1.3 trillion to $1.33 trillion.
In addition, the projected decline to $901 billion in 2013 is dependent on enactment of the president's policies, including spending reductions agreed to last summer and ending George W. Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy at the end of this year.
While tuition bills continue to skyrocket, a small but growing number of private colleges and universities are bucking the trend and going on sale.
At least six colleges announced plans to reduce tuition costs in the upcoming school year. Many of these schools say lower-cost higher-education will attract more students from middle-income families those with incomes too high to qualify for free federal financial aid, but not high enough to pay for college costs without going deep into debt. "We are hoping to recruit more students from that group than in the past," says Edwin Welch, president of University of Charleston, in West Virginia, which is slashing tuition by 22%. Others are looking to lure students away from nearby colleges that up to now have been more affordable, says Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of FinAid.org, which tracks financial aid issues.
And even though teachers would be unionized, they would have different rules from those at other schools to bring costs down, Caire said.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Caire's original proposal for Madison Prep called for a "non-instrumentality" charter school, meaning it would employ its own staff and be free of day-to-day district oversight. In October, Caire and Matthews announced an agreement by which Madison Prep would use union staff, opening the door for Madison Prep to submit an "instrumentality" charter school proposal to the district.
But a district analysis based on language in the union contract found the cost would be higher than originally projected. Cost-saving changes to the contract, which expires in June 2013, couldn't be made without nullifying it under the state's new collective bargaining law.
In November, Madison Prep supporters changed their proposal to a non-instrumentality charter school. District officials opposed that option, saying it would have insufficient oversight and conflict with the union contract, which requires the district to hire union employees.
The latest iteration of Madison Prep would be an instrumentality charter school. But because it would open in fall 2013, the current union contract wouldn't apply, meaning separate rules could be written for the school.
Matthews, however, said MTI opposes the types of changes Madison Prep would seek, such as eliminating a provision that grants senior teachers priority for new job openings in the district.
"Those are rights people have," Matthews said. "It gets us right back to why there was so much reaction to what Gov. Walker did last year."
Politicians vilifying health insurance companies isn't uncommon. But WEA Trust has the distinction of being attacked not by liberal Democrats but by conservative Republicans.
WEA Trust's core business is selling health insurance to school districts. And the company - an outgrowth of the state's largest teachers union but an independent, nonprofit company - became a frequent target in the clash over teachers' benefits and collective bargaining.
Critics contended that WEA Trust's rates were higher than its competitors and that school districts could save money by switching to other health insurers if benefits were not subject to collective bargaining.
WEA Trust countered that its rates were competitive and that school districts spent more on health insurance than private employers because the districts provided better benefits as part of teachers' compensation.
The coming years will determine who is right. So far, no clear answer has emerged.
WEA Trust, one of the state's largest health insurers, has lost about a third of its business with school districts now that state law excludes health benefits from union contracts. But it also has won some new customers and become a significant competitor in the market to insure state employees.
* Rafael Pi Roman, host of New Jersey Capitol Report, discussing school vouchers: "They can't afford to pay, you know that. Some of these parents can't afford to take their child out of these schools."
- Vincent Giordano, executive director of the New Jersey Education Association, responding: "Life's not always fair and I'm sorry about that."
- Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey, on that response: "You know, as Vince drives out of the palace on State Street every day in his big luxury car with his $500,000 salary, I'm sure life's really fair for him.... That level of arrogance, that level of puffed-up, rich man baloney, is unacceptable in this state. He should resign. He should resign today."
- Giordano, replying: "I have no intention of resigning. If he thinks he's going to bully me like he bullies everyone else, he doesn't understand who I am, or how deeply I care about the work I do.... For his abysmal record on education and his hypocrisy in claiming to care about children in urban districts while pursuing policies that have hurt them deeply, I call on Gov. Christie to resign from office immediately.
Madison school chief Dan Nerad's plan to close the district's achievement gap is certainly bold about spending money.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
It seeks an estimated $105 million over five years for a slew of ideas -- many of them already in place or attempted, just not to the degree Nerad envisions.
The school superintendent argues a comprehensive approach is needed to boost the academic performance of struggling minority and low-income students. No one approach will magically lift the district's terrible graduation rates of just 48 percent for black students and 57 percent for Latinos.
For decades critics of the public schools have been saying, "You can't solve educational problems by throwing money at them." The education establishment and its supporters have replied, "No one's ever tried." In Kansas City they did try. To improve the education of black students and encourage desegregation, a federal judge invited the Kansas City, Missouri, School District to come up with a cost-is-no-object educational plan and ordered local and state taxpayers to find the money to pay for it.And, In Kansas City, tackling education's status quo "We're not an Employment Agency, We're a School District"
Kansas City spent as much as $11,700 per pupil--more money per pupil, on a cost of living adjusted basis, than any other of the 280 largest districts in the country. The money bought higher teachers' salaries, 15 new schools, and such amenities as an Olympic-sized swimming pool with an underwater viewing room, television and animation studios, a robotics lab, a 25-acre wildlife sanctuary, a zoo, a model United Nations with simultaneous translation capability, and field trips to Mexico and Senegal. The student-teacher ratio was 12 or 13 to 1, the lowest of any major school district in the country.
The results were dismal. Test scores did not rise; the black-white gap did not diminish; and there was less, not greater, integration.
Of the 33 questions on the questionnaire for School Board candidates crafted by Madison Teachers Inc., one asks the candidate whether he or she will "introduce and vote for a motion to adopt the Collective Bargaining Agreements negotiated between MTI and the Madison Metropolitan School District as [school district] policy."
Ed Hughes, a fellow board member, is dismayed by what he sees as a pledge that will restrict the administration's ability to develop new solutions for district issues.
"The pledge of the MTI-endorsed candidates isn't to exercise good judgment; it's a pledge to renounce the exercise of any judgment at all," he says.
In particular, Hughes is worried that retaining certain elements of the existing contract, such as the non-compete clause that keeps the district from contracting with non-union employees, will limit schools' ability to get kids help from qualified outsiders.
Seat 1 Candidates:
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
Seat 2 Candidates:
"Concessions Before Negotiations" has been going on for some time locally.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy proposed a broad set of education initiatives, including major changes to teacher tenure, on Wednesday in his second State of the State address, a speech that found his efforts split between unfinished business from his first year in office and a new agenda for his second.The presentation (PDF).
Mr. Malloy, a Democrat, cast himself as a governor focused on educational innovation in a state with the nation's largest achievement gap between largely white suburban students and largely minority urban ones, even if that put him at odds with traditionally supportive constituencies, like teachers' unions.
He said teachers could get tenure just by showing up for work, which he called unacceptable.
"Today tenure is too easy to get and too hard to take away," he said in a joint legislative session at Connecticut's ornate House chamber.
New York has the most effective school-choice system of any of the nation's largest school districts, allowing students and parents the most freedom and providing them with the most relevant information on educational performance, according to a new Brookings Institution report scheduled for publication online Wednesday.
But even New York got a B under the report's A-to-F grading system, with Brookings saying the city provided the least useful online information for comparing schools and giving it low scores in several other categories.
The Chicago public school district, which has the nation's third-largest student population, after New York and Los Angeles, ranked second in choice, with a B. Los Angeles was 21st, with a C, and the Orange County district in Florida, which includes Orlando, came in last, with the report's lone D.
Google's very first employee--hired when the company was still working from its founders' Stanford dorm rooms--is out of there. It came out today that after fourteen years at Google, Craig Silverstein would leave the company to work for Khan Academy, an educational startup that is itself a child of YouTube.
Craig was known for many things, but in the past few years most reporters connected with him as a mercurial commentator on Google culture. His gentle touch was instrumental in forming that culture. In the early days he would bring go around the cubicles crying out, "Bread!" and distributing loaves he'd baked himself. For the past few years he seemed to have a flexible portfolio, moving between New York and Mountain View. He was one of a surprising number of very early Googlers who, though rich enough to live like pashas without ever working again, have stuck with thecompany. Every so often one of those early employees peels off. Still, a number of the first group of employees-- like Susan Wojicki (ads), Urs Hölzle (infrastructure), Salar Kamanger (YouTube), and Marissa Mayer (local) -- still work long hours at key Google jobs. They can recall when just about the entire company could fit into a van for a ski trip. Now, if the Motorola Mobility deal goes through (word is that's imminent) Google's headcount will approach 50,000. That's a lot of vans.
A recent article about the implementation of new teacher evaluations in Tennessee details some of the complicated issues with which state officials, teachers and administrators are dealing in adapting to the new system. One of these issues is somewhat technical - whether the various components of evaluations, most notably principal observations and test-based productivity measures (e.g., value-added) - tend to "match up." That is, whether teachers who score high on one measure tend to do similarly well on the other (see here for more on this issue).
In discussing this type of validation exercise, the article notes:If they don't match up, the system's usefulness and reliability could come into question, and it could lose credibility among educators.
The "disruption" of the higher-ed market is a popular refrain these days. Rising tuition prices and student debt have left many wondering if the current model is indeed broken and whether those like Harvard's Clay Christensen are right when they say that innovations in course delivery will eventually displace established players.
What exactly those innovations will look like remains a matter of debate. One view from Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, envisions a future in which every industry will be disrupted and "rebuilt with people at the center."
As a kid, I was lucky to have a Dad who was a top-notch book-cover maker, wrapping my school textbooks in brown paper bags that he transformed into precisely folded, sharp cornered, blank canvases.
But even Dad's covers couldn't fix everything: Some books showed their age with dog-eared pages, highlights, tears and leftover love notes. Plus, they weighed several pounds each, tugging down my JanSport backpack.
This week, I tested a one-stop solution to much of that which ails textbooks: Apple's iBooks 2. This redesigned iPad app offers enhanced educational textbooks that are, for now, focused on high-school students and cost no more than $15 each. Apple's smallest and least expensive iPad can store roughly eight to 10 textbooks, along with other content. (High schoolers have an average of four textbooks a year, according to Apple.) The iPad, itself, weighs just over one pound.
Close to 40 million Americans move from one home to another every year. Click anywhere on the map below: blue counties send more migrants to the selected county than they take; red counties take more than they send.
Although the debate over the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy has often inflamed emotions in the community over the past year, Wednesday night's forum for candidates for the Madison School Board was respectful and largely subdued.Much more on the candidates and a recent forum, here.
In fact, if there was any overarching theme to the discussion, which was hosted by the Dane County Democrats at the Madison Concourse Hotel, it was that the candidates largely agree on most major educational issues.
Notably, none expressed support for the Madison Prep charter school unless it remained subject to the rules of the current collective bargaining agreement between the school district and the teachers union. In December, the School Board rejected the plan for the charter school after its backers sought "non-instrumentality" status from the district in an effort to gain more flexibility in setting pay and work conditions for its employees.
Bibliomania has thousands of e-books, poems, articles, short stories and plays all of which are absolutely free. You can read the world's greatest fiction by authors such as Dickens and Joyce, Sherlock Holmes mysteries, all Shakespeare's plays, or just dip into some short stories by writers such as Mark Twain, Anton Chekov and Edgar Allan Poe.
We add many books every month along with new articles and interviews by our team of dedicated literary sleuths. Click "Discuss" at the bottom of the page on any book or author to join our messageboards where you can ask your fellow readers questions or just post your opinions.
There are few topics that engender more debate, emotion and passion than our public schools. I wouldn't have it any other way. For me, public education is one of the most critical components of a community's ability to create a better future, not only for our children, but for all of us.Seat 1 Candidates:
We have work to do in our community when it comes to our schools. My commitment to public education, to Madison School District's 25,000 students, to our outstanding teachers and staff, and to staying in the fight for good public schools are the reasons I am running for re-election.
When our schools face challenges, as they do today, our agenda must be focused on what is most effective in helping all children learn and achieve. When there is a budget deficit and declining state revenues, we must prioritize initiatives that really work and provide the biggest bang for our buck. When there are hard choices to be made, we owe it to the children we serve to engage in respectful debate to find solutions.
Big issues face Madison's schools. This spring, the board will pass a budget made more difficult by shrinking state dollars and exacerbated by the Walker administration's unprecedented assault on teachers and education. Throughout my service on the board, I have balanced the current and future needs of the district with the needs of the taxpayer.
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
Seat 2 Candidates:
Jack Craver. (Video)
Seat 1 Candidates:
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
Seat 2 Candidates:
JUST because he belongs to it himself does not make Newt Gingrich wrong when he grumbles that America is run by an out-of-touch elite. If you want evidence, the data can now be found in a book published this week by Charles Murray, the co-author in 1994 of "The Bell Curve", which became controversial for positing a link between race and intelligence. That controversy should not deter you. "Coming Apart: The State of White America 1960-2010" brims with ideas about what ails America.
David Brooks, a conservative columnist for the New York Times, thinks it will be the most important book this year on American society. And even if you do not buy all Mr Murray's ideas about what ails America, you will learn much about what conservatives think ails America, a subject no less fascinating. Though it does not set out to do so, this book brings together four themes heard endlessly on the Republican campaign trail. They are the cultural divide between elite values and mainstream values (a favourite of the tea-partiers); the case for religion and family values (think Rick Santorum); American exceptionalism (all the candidates); and (a favourite of Mitt Romney's) the danger of America becoming a European welfare state.
he state teachers union is taking criticism from some members around the state for an early endorsement of Kathleen Falk [blekko] in the likely recall election against Gov. Scott Walker but is sticking with the decision.David Blaska has more.
John Matthews, executive director of Madison Teachers Inc., the second-largest member union within WEAC and a union with members in the heart of Falk's home county, said the endorsement came before it was clear whether there would be other challengers to Walker. He said his union would wait to make its own endorsement.
"We have a lot of our members who wish they would have waited until all the candidates were known. I think they made the wrong decision but I don't see how they can get out of it," Matthews said of WEAC.
An education reform bill circulating this week would require kindergarten screening exams and teacher evaluations based partly on test scores, but doesn't update the state's system for holding schools accountable for student performance.The DPI has much to answer for after the millions spent (and years wasted) on the oft-criticized WKCE.
The omission concerned State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers, who for the past year has worked with Gov. Scott Walker on three bipartisan task forces addressing literacy, teacher effectiveness and school accountability. The bill includes recommendations from the first two groups, but not the third.
Specifically, the bill doesn't propose changes that would bring charter schools and private voucher schools under the new accountability system, or update language in state law related to No Child Left Behind.
Evers said the bill misses an opportunity to deliver action on promises made by Walker, legislators and education leaders, including advocates for charter and private voucher schools.
A new study shows that students who coast through college often struggle after graduating.
Last year, the higher education policy world saw the publication of a smash, blockbuster book. Well, what passes for that in our little domain anyway--Academically Adrift by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa. The book was a blockbuster because it put a granite peak of data on the mountain range of anecdotal evidence that lots of young Americans graduate from college without learning much.
The message from colleges and universities to families and the public at large is that they need and deserve support because they're vital to "investing" in the next generation of human capital. Academically Adrift proves that claim to be at best a considerable stretching of the truth.
Arum and Roksa, aided by two researchers, have now published a follow-up study, "Documenting Uncertain Times: Post-graduate Transitions of the Academically Adrift Cohort." They surveyed nearly 1,000 students from their original cohort to find out about their post-college experiences.
Los Angeles police are investigating a teacher aide at Miramonte Elementary School who allegedly sent love letters to an 11-year-old student. The student's mother discovered the letters in 2009, but she says police and school officials didn't take the matter seriously until last week, when two other teachers at the same school were arrested for sexually abusing students in separate cases. Is sexual abuse in schools really as common as these reports make it seem?Reader Hazel asked for a link to the study. I added a link to the post above. That is all I could find.
Possibly. The best available study suggests that about 10 percent of students suffer some form of sexual abuse during their school careers. In the 2000 report, commissioned by the American Association of University Women, surveyors asked students between eighth and 11th grades whether they had ever experienced inappropriate sexual conduct at school. The list of such conduct included lewd comments, exposure to pornography, peeping in the locker room, and sexual touching or grabbing. Around one in 10 students said they had been the victim of one or more such things from a teacher or other school employee, and two-thirds of those reported the incident involved physical contact. If these numbers are representative of the student population nationwide, 4.5 million students currently in grades K-12 have suffered some form of sexual abuse by an educator, and more than 3 million have experienced sexual touching or assault. This number would include both inappropriate romantic relationships between teachers and upperclassmen, and outright pedophilia.
In a five-year fund-raising campaign that concluded December 31, Stanford University raised $6.2-billion, the largest sum ever collected in a single campaign by a higher-education institution, the university announced on Wednesday.Related: NACBA:
The money will go toward a variety of university projects, including 38 new or renovated campus buildings, $250-million in need-based scholarships for undergraduate students, 130 new endowed faculty appointments, and 360 new fellowships for graduate students. More than 166,000 alumni, parents, students, and others made 560,000 donations since the campaign began in 2006, the university said in a news release.
The campaign, called The Stanford Challenge, far surpassed its original goal of $4.3-billion, and exceeded the previous record for a concluded higher-education campaign by more than $2.3-billion, according to Pam Russell, spokeswoman for the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.
4 OUT 5 U.S. BANKRUPTCY ATTORNEYS REPORT MAJOR JUMP IN STUDENT LOAN DEBTORS SEEKING HELP, FEARS GROW OF NEXT MORTGAGE-STYLE DEBT THREAT TO U.S.
No Child Left Behind no more -- at least for Minnesota.
This state will be among 10 that officially will learn -- at 1 p.m. CST -- that it has earned approval for its plan for doing better than the nation's 11-year-old education reform law. A polarized Congress has agreed that NCLB is fatally flawed, but has made only cursory stabs at replacing it.
The waiver granted by U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan will free numerous Minnesota schools -- including some that graduate most of their students -- from compliance with a series of burdensome requirements to show continuous progress on standardized tests educators have long insisted have no practical value for students or teachers.
If the waiver process is anything like other Obama administration education initiatives, more than two dozen other states will scour the lengthy waiver applications submitted by Minnesota and other winning states to get an idea of the accountability measures that meet the feds' loosely articulated benchmark for earning a waiver.
The Obama administration announced Thursday the list of 10 states it is releasing from key requirements of No Child Left Behind, in a major move away from the decade-old education law.
The states getting waivers are: Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. Eleven states applied for waivers from the law and 28 others and Washington, D.C., have told the U.S. Department of Education that they plan to apply in the next round.
Kaela Brown, a teacher at Anacostia High School in Washington, D.C., faced possible dismissal after her students posted low reading scores.
New Mexico applied for the waiver but didn't get it.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides invaluable statistics on union membership each year, but doesn't disaggregate data by occupation and state. So all we have for individual states are total membership figures for all unions. Still, with public sector unions making up the majority of union membership in the U.S., we can get a reasonable picture of where NEA and AFT might be taking the biggest beatings. Some states on this list are obvious, while others are a surprise.
Rather than examine unionization rates, or market share based on the size of the entire workforce, I chose to look at raw totals. After all, a union could decline in total share, but as long as it gained members, it means more money in the till. Members lost equals money lost, and 20 states had fewer union members in 2011 than they had in 2010. I've ranked them according to percentage of membership lost:
Dane County health officials are still waiting for test results from the most recent outbreak. It took place Jan. 29 when at least 16 people had vomiting and diarrhea after eating sandwiches and other food at the Mandrake Road Church of Christ in Madison.
Also last month, 28 people got sick after eating at Erin's Snug Irish Pub in Madison. The other outbreaks took place at a drama-filming session at Madison West High School, the Pyle Center at U W Madison, and a Madison art show.
Health department epidemiologist Amanda Kita-Yarbro says the five outbreaks in a three-month period are a first for her agency. She said it could have been spurred either by food workers or people attending the various events.
On January 25, MDRC released the latest findings from its ongoing study of new, small, academically nonselective high schools in New York City, called "small schools of choice" (SSCs) by the researchers. The new brief reported that SSCs have:
- Sustained impacts on graduation with Regents diplomas: Average four-year graduation effects have reached 8.6 percentage points (meaning nearly nine more graduates for every class of 100 entering ninth-graders). This effect is driven by an increase in Regents diplomas attained.
- Positive graduation effects for virtually every subgroup, including students with low entering proficiency in math and English (levels 1 and 2, in New York City terminology), males and females, blacks and Hispanics, and students eligible for free and reduced-priced lunch.
- A positive effect on a measure of college readiness: a 7.6 percentage point (or 25 percent) impact on scoring 75 or higher on the English Regents exam (which exempts students from remedial English at the City University of New York). There was no effect on scoring 75 or higher on the math Regents exam.
- A five-year graduation effect: Students in the new small high schools are 7.1 percentage points more likely to graduate in five years than their control group counterparts (75.2 percent vs. 68.1 percent).
Yesterday I asked Nichelle Nichols and Mary Burke to respond to the post I shared about the DaneDems Forum. Nichelle posted the following response.Much more on the 2012 Madison School Board Candidates, here.
It's worth noting that the "original" plan for Madison Prep was for a non-instrumentality, which changed to an instrumentality right before last October's official public hearing because of an agreement reached with Madison Teachers Inc. When that agreement proved too expensive because of provisions in the current collective bargaining agreement, Madison Prep was again put forward as a non-instrumentality.
Education was historically considered a great equalizer in American society, capable of lifting less advantaged children and improving their chances for success as adults. But a body of recently published scholarship suggests that the achievement gap between rich and poor children is widening, a development that threatens to dilute education's leveling effects.
It is a well-known fact that children from affluent families tend to do better in school. Yet the income divide has received far less attention from policy makers and government officials than gaps in student accomplishment by race.
Now, in analyses of long-term data published in recent months, researchers are finding that while the achievement gap between white and black students has narrowed significantly over the past few decades, the gap between rich and poor students has grown substantially during the same period.
"We have moved from a society in the 1950s and 1960s, in which race was more consequential than family income, to one today in which family income appears more determinative of educational success than race," said Sean F. Reardon, a Stanford University sociologist. Professor Reardon is the author of a study that found that the gap in standardized test scores between affluent and low-income students had grown by about 40 percent since the 1960s, and is now double the testing gap between blacks and whites.
In another study, by researchers from the University of Michigan, the imbalance between rich and poor children in college completion -- the single most important predictor of success in the work force -- has grown by about 50 percent since the late 1980s.
The changes are tectonic, a result of social and economic processes unfolding over many decades. The data from most of these studies end in 2007 and 2008, before the recession's full impact was felt. Researchers said that based on experiences during past recessions, the recent downturn was likely to have aggravated the trend.
"With income declines more severe in the lower brackets, there's a good chance the recession may have widened the gap," Professor Reardon said. In the study he led, researchers analyzed 12 sets of standardized test scores starting in 1960 and ending in 2007. He compared children from families in the 90th percentile of income -- the equivalent of around $160,000 in 2008, when the study was conducted -- and children from the 10th percentile, $17,500 in 2008. By the end of that period, the achievement gap by income had grown by 40 percent, he said, while the gap between white and black students, regardless of income, had shrunk substantially.
Both studies were first published last fall in a book of research, "Whither Opportunity?" compiled by the Russell Sage Foundation, a research center for social sciences, and the Spencer Foundation, which focuses on education. Their conclusions, while familiar to a small core of social sciences scholars, are now catching the attention of a broader audience, in part because income inequality has been a central theme this election season.
The connection between income inequality among parents and the social mobility of their children has been a focus of President Obama as well as some of the Republican presidential candidates.
One reason for the growing gap in achievement, researchers say, could be that wealthy parents invest more time and money than ever before in their children (in weekend sports, ballet, music lessons, math tutors, and in overall involvement in their children's schools), while lower-income families, which are now more likely than ever to be headed by a single parent, are increasingly stretched for time and resources. This has been particularly true as more parents try to position their children for college, which has become ever more essential for success in today's economy.
A study by Sabino Kornrich, a researcher at the Center for Advanced Studies at the Juan March Institute in Madrid, and Frank F. Furstenberg, scheduled to appear in the journal Demography this year, found that in 1972, Americans at the upper end of the income spectrum were spending five times as much per child as low-income families. By 2007 that gap had grown to nine to one; spending by upper-income families more than doubled, while spending by low-income families grew by 20 percent.
"The pattern of privileged families today is intensive cultivation," said Dr. Furstenberg, a professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania.
The gap is also growing in college. The University of Michigan study, by Susan M. Dynarski and Martha J. Bailey, looked at two generations of students, those born from 1961 to 1964 and those born from 1979 to 1982. By 1989, about one-third of the high-income students in the first generation had finished college; by 2007, more than half of the second generation had done so. By contrast, only 9 percent of the low-income students in the second generation had completed college by 2007, up only slightly from a 5 percent college completion rate by the first generation in 1989.
James J. Heckman, an economist at the University of Chicago, argues that parenting matters as much as, if not more than, income in forming a child's cognitive ability and personality, particularly in the years before children start school.
"Early life conditions and how children are stimulated play a very important role," he said. "The danger is we will revert back to the mindset of the war on poverty, when poverty was just a matter of income, and giving families more would improve the prospects of their children. If people conclude that, it's a mistake."
Meredith Phillips, an associate professor of public policy and sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles, used survey data to show that affluent children spend 1,300 more hours than low-income children before age 6 in places other than their homes, their day care centers, or schools (anywhere from museums to shopping malls). By the time high-income children start school, they have spent about 400 hours more than poor children in literacy activities, she found.
Charles Murray, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute whose book, "Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010," was published Jan. 31, described income inequality as "more of a symptom than a cause."
The growing gap between the better educated and the less educated, he argued, has formed a kind of cultural divide that has its roots in natural social forces, like the tendency of educated people to marry other educated people, as well as in the social policies of the 1960s, like welfare and other government programs, which he contended provided incentives for staying single.
"When the economy recovers, you'll still see all these problems persisting for reasons that have nothing to do with money and everything to do with culture," he said.
There are no easy answers, in part because the problem is so complex, said Douglas J. Besharov, a fellow at the Atlantic Council. Blaming the problem on the richest of the rich ignores an equally important driver, he said: two-earner household wealth, which has lifted the upper middle class ever further from less educated Americans, who tend to be single parents.
The problem is a puzzle, he said. "No one has the slightest idea what will work. The cupboard is bare."
Since the 1990s Wisconsin, and Milwaukee in particular, has been a national leader in the belief that parents should be the ones making education decisions for their children. The granting of the No Child Left Behind waiver currently being debated in Madison may be the act that finally puts that notion to rest.
Wisconsin is, like other states, pursuing a waiver to the flawed No Child Left Behind law. Without a waiver most Wisconsin schools and districts will eventually be designated as failing. The waiver has many positive aspects; most importantly it puts substantial focus on using student growth scores to evaluate school performance. The day may actually be coming when Wisconsin's assessment system can inform the public of the impact a specific school is having on student achievement.
Included in the waiver, however, are provisions that give the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) substantial authority to intervene in private schools participating in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP). As written, DPI will first identify MPCP participants that are "among the persistently lowest performing schools in the state." Schools that are identified will then have the option of:
Some people would say that "the union" and "quality teaching" don't belong in the same sentence, or blog post title.
My bet is that those people don't know about the two Quality Teaching Conferences run by the California Teachers Association (CTA) each year. The Northern California conference took place in San Jose last weekend, and the Southern California conference is coming up next month.
I don't mean to suggest that because CTA has conferences about quality teaching that they are therefore immune to criticism - but I would expect any fair-minded critic to consider whether or not their image of the union is informed by experience and a full awareness of CTA activities.
Students could enroll outside their home districts, and public tuition dollars would flow to private religious schools, under education reforms laid out by the LePage administration in Skowhegan this morning. Besides expanded school choice, the administration is also pushing legislation to toughen and standardize teacher and principal evaluation statewide and expand career and technical education. Some praise the proposals as bold and innovative, but others dismiss them as divisive and unfair.
The scene of the big announcement invoked a part of the governor's education agenda that pretty much everyone seems to agree with. At just after 9 a.m., LePage welcomed guests assembled inside an automotive garage at a Skowhegan technical school, then turned the podium over to his education commissioner.
Stephen Bowen turned and marveled at the hydraulic lifts and other machinery. "It's great to be in this facility," he said. "I love this backdrop back here. I have a car, by the way, that I may bring in here later, 'cause there was something rattling on my way up here."
Before I became president of the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, I worked in economic development in the administrations of five Wisconsin governors, both Democrats and Republicans. Over those years, leaders in both parties called for "jobs, jobs, jobs."
Some economists rate Wisconsin's personal income growth levels in 48th place. Now, in an election year and in a time of recession and jobless recovery, the critical question is what can the state do to promote job creation? The Journal Sentinel Editorial Board has rightly made jobs and job creation its sole agenda item for 2012.
There is a direct link between the level of educational attainment (percentage of the population with a postsecondary degree) in a state and the growth of personal income in that state. Because of that link, there is also a clear and certain pathway to economic growth and job creation.
The Wisconsin Technology Council has called upon the state to add 150,000 degree-holders to bring Wisconsin to the national average. Competitive Wisconsin Inc., a coalition of corporate and union leadership, not wishing our state to be average, urged Wisconsin to add 170,000 baccalaureate degree-holders to bring this state up to the level of our neighbor, Minnesota.
Two longtime Madison Christian schools -- one thriving, one ailing -- announced plans to consolidate Monday.
The change, to occur this fall, is expected to involve an unspecified number of layoffs at Abundant Life, and all teachers there will be required to reapply for their jobs, according to school officials.
The schools will retain their names and facilities but will share a principal and other administrative functions, said the Rev. Tom Flaherty, lead pastor of City Church, which owns Abundant Life and sought the other school's help.
"We realized that, financially, we were not going to be able to sustain the school as it was," Flaherty said.
Legislation to allow home-schooled students to play varsity sports at public schools passed the Republican-controlled Virginia Assembly on Wednesday. It will now go before the State Senate. Robert McDonnell, Virginia's Republican governor, has said he supports the bill.
Alabama and Mississippi are considering similar legislation, and 25 states now allow home-schooled students to play sports at public schools with varying restrictions. Is this a move in the right direction?
As a college educator I am tasked with preparing today's students for their future careers.
Implicit is that I should know more about the future than most people. I do not - at least not in the sense of specific predictions. But I can suggest some boundaries on the path forward.
Let's start with the three Laws of Future Employment. Law #1: People will get jobs doing things that computers can't do. Law #2: A global market place will result in lower pay and fewer opportunities for many careers. (But also in cheaper and better products and a higher standard of living for American consumers.) Law #3: Professional people will more likely be freelancers and less likely to have a steady job.
Usually taken for granted is that future jobs depend on STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, and math). This view is eloquently expounded by Thomas Friedman, who argues that the US is falling behind China and India in educating for STEM careers.
Despite all the heated talk about how to identify and dismiss low-performing teachers, there's relatively little research on how administrators choose whom to dismiss, whether various dismissal options might actually serve to improve performance, and other aspects in this area. A paper by economist Brian Jacob, released as working paper in 2010 and published late last year in the journal Education Evaluation and Policy Analysis, helps address at least one of these voids, by providing one of the few recent glimpses into administrators' actual dismissal decisions.
Jacob exploits a change in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) personnel policy that took effect for the 2004-05 school year, one which strengthened principals' ability to dismiss probationary teachers, allowing non-renewal for any reason, with minimal documentation. He was able to link these personnel records to student test scores, teacher and school characteristics and other variables, in order to examine the characteristics that principals might be considering, directly or indirectly, in deciding who would and would not be dismissed.
Jacob's findings are intriguing, suggesting a more complicated situation than is sometimes acknowledged in the ongoing debate over teacher dismissal policy.
As a parent of three children in the Madison public school system, I am deeply invested in ensuring that our city provides an excellent quality of education -- not only for my own children, but also for thousands of their peers in this district.2012 Madison School Board Elections:
Growing up poor in Madison, I can personally identify with many of the issues that an ever-increasing number of children in our city face, including a lack of parental involvement at home and in their educational experience. Understanding the struggles of these children, often without high educational expectations placed on them and a painful awareness of being in poverty, I can see why many resign to academic failure.
Recently the Madison School District and School Board have been under scrutiny regarding the racial academic achievement gap. Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet to close this gap that is caused by poverty, a lack of education and dysfunctional family situations. Any attempt to close it will require a variety of interventions, the most important being parental and community involvement, sometimes on behalf of children that are not our own.
Seat 1 Candidates:
Seat 2 Candidates:
They came, as such things usually do, via that great information dumping ground known as the Internet.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
"The Ideological Lineage of Madison Prep: If you haven't seen this, you really should: History, Not 'Conspiracy,'" read the Feb. 1 tweet.
Included was a link to a Jan. 27 blog post that in 1,776 words has Kaleem Caire - head of the Urban League of Greater Madison and the main backer of controversial Madison charter school Madison Preparatory Academy -- connected to more than a dozen conservative causes or leaders, including such bogeymen of the left as the American Legislative Exchange Council and the Charles G. Koch Foundation.
Similarly, a 1,357-word, Dec. 22 essay published on the website of a local liberal magazine points to Caire's work with "right-wing organizations" such as the Black Alliance for Educational Options and describes the people behind charters like Madison Prep as being about the "business" of "obtaining a secure stream of public funding to attract more private investment in what are essentially private ventures outside of the scrutiny or accountability systems of democratically elected school boards."
Well, OK ...
Question 23 has implications for the future of our public schools, along with the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school:Much more on More on Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad's Achievement Gap Presentation: $105,600,000 over 5 Years.Given Act 10's negative Impact on Collective Bargaining Agreements, will you introduce and vote for a motion to adopt the Collective Bargaining Agreements (182 page PDF Document) negotiated between MTI and The Madison Metropolitan School District as MMSD policy?
The College Board AP Report to the Nation shows that students who earn advanced placement credit in high school typically experience greater academic success in college, are better prepared for coursework, and are more likely to earn a college degree than their peers.View and download the 2011 AP Report to the Nation, here:
In 2011, 903,630 seniors took an AP exam before leaving high school with 540,619 scoring a three or higher. That doubles the 431,573 who took the exam in 2001 when only 277,507 scored a three or higher. In all, 62,068 students across Wisconsin took AP exams in 2011.
Joanne Berg, University of Wisconsin-Madison vice provost for enrollment management, says that "students who took AP credits were able to graduate sooner than other students, were able to start advanced courses sooner, and actually free up courses for other students who weren't able to take AP credits."
Along with the release of the report, representatives from the UW-Madison are also featured in several videos speaking to the value of the AP program. The videos can be viewed here.
The 8th Annual AP Report to the Nation (.pdf/1.7MB) reports on each state's efforts to improve high school achievement by involving greater segments of the student population -- and traditionally underserved minority students in particular -- in rigorous AP courses.The state supplements can be viewed here.
Deborah Gist, Rhode Island's Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education, has implemented some major reforms since assuming her role in 2009. She has raised the score required to pass teacher-certification tests and allowed a superintendent to fire all of the teachers at a school that was resisting reforms. Perhaps most notably, she has overseen the implementation of a new teacher-evaluation system. The Hechinger Report recently interviewed Gist about her state's new approach to evaluating teachers.
Since changing your teacher-evaluation process in 2009 to include students' standardized test-scores and yearly evaluations of teachers and administrators, what has the feedback been? Where are you at as far as implementing the changes, how is it going, and what have you learned?
I started Apps for Kids because my 8-year-old daughter Jane and I like to play games on the iPhone and iPad together. We have a lot of fun checking out new apps, and then seeing if we can beat each other's high scores. My friends who have kids of their own were always asking Jane and me what apps they should download, and so I thought maybe we should share that advice to a larger audience. So we started Apps for Kids, and people seem to really like it
via Steve Hsu.
California voters made a pact in 1988 when they approved Proposition 98.
The state would provide a guaranteed minimum level of funding for public schools. In exchange, schools would be held "accountable for the job they do and the tax dollars they spend." Every year each school would publish a School Accountability Report Card - the SARC.
A generation later, that report card still is not very readable and has little role in driving school improvement. A 2004 UCLA report concluded, "Running the school system without a useful and understandable SARC is like driving a $100,000 sports car with a broken speedometer, temperature gauge and gas gauge."
Unfortunately, political leaders faced with the overly complex, confusing system seem to lunge in opposite directions.
Ask Detroit teachers about their biggest challenge, and many will say, "You can't teach kids who don't come to class." Last year, the average Detroit public high school student missed at least 28 days of school.
Now, as part of its effort to get parents more involved, the district has launched a major initiative to improve attendance. The effort includes parent workshops and attendance agents charged with pushing parents to send their kids to school every day.
George Eason is one of Detroit's 51 attendance agents. He's staring at a printout that says a lot about the city's attendance problems. He flips the pages, counting the absences that one student has racked up only midway through the school year.
Gov. Dannel Malloy has indicated that he plans to make good on his promise to enact education reform -- he has announced a series of legislative proposals over the past week aimed at improving and expanding schooling opportunities in Connecticut.
Malloy's proposals, if enacted by the state's General Assembly convening for its legislative session today, would affect students in levels ranging from preschool to professional job training programs. Last Thursday, Malloy proposed allocating an additional $12 million of the state budget to boost the quality and accessibility preschool education in the state. The next day, the governor announced that he will propose legislation to change the Connecticut Technical High School (CTHSS) system to tailor its curricula to the needs of the state's employers so that students will be better prepared for employment upon graduation. On Monday, Malloy put forth a legislative proposal to improve low-achieving schools and increase charter and magnate school funding.
"We made a promise to our kids that education will prepare them for college or the workforce," Malloy said in a Feb. 6 press release. "Transforming our educational system -- fixing the schools that are falling short and learning from the ones that are graduating high-achievers -- will help us develop the skilled workforce that will strengthen our state and our economy."
Amy and Mark Denicore are headed to a full-blown trial to defend themselves against charges that they violated Virginia law by making their kids late to elementary school too often.
The Loudoun County couple was arraigned Monday morning in juvenile and domestic relations court. Judge Pamela L. Brooks set a trial date of March 14.
The Denicores are each charged with three Class 3 misdemeanors, each of which carries a maximum fine of $500. Their three children, ages 6, 7 and 9, have been late to school almost 30 times since September. Most of their tardies were three minutes or less.
Union leaders are asking Democratic candidates for governor to veto the next state budget if it doesn't restore collective bargaining for public workers and one leading candidate - Kathleen Falk - has agreed, participants in the private meetings say.
The plan, which could lead to shortages or even layoffs in government if it doesn't succeed, is a key strategy that union leaders are considering for undoing Gov. Scott Walker's repeal last year of most collective bargaining for public employees. Falk, the former Dane County executive, has committed to restoring collective bargaining in the next state budget and vetoing the budget if those provisions come out, while at least three other candidates including Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said they wouldn't commit to any one strategy to accomplish that.
"The governor's job is to veto budget items that don't reflect citizens' values. That's why a million people signed recall petitions - because Scott Walker's budgets didn't reflect citizens' values," Falk spokesman Scot Ross said. "All the support she'll receive is because she the best candidate to take on Gov. Walker's divisive, extreme, national tea party agenda and bring Wisconsin back together."
Unions helped launch the recall effort against Walker in November in response to Walker's labor legislation, and the state teachers union on Wednesday endorsed Falk in that looming contest. All the potential Democratic challengers to Walker support restoring collective bargaining, but they don't all agree on how to make that happen.
Two seats on the eight-member board are opening up. In both races, opponents of the proposed charter school, which is being championed by the Urban League of Madison as a way to target the long-standing achievement gap between white and minority students, are pitted against supporters of the plan.Related: 1.25.2012 Madison School Board Candidate DCCPA Event Audio.
Arlene Silveira, an incumbent who voted against Madison Prep, is being challenged by Nichelle Nichols, the vice president of learning for the Urban League. Similarly, in an open seat that Madison Prep supporter Lucy Mathiak is vacating, Mary Burke, a wealthy philanthropist (and former state secretary of Commerce) who pledged $2.5 million to the Madison Prep project, is running against Michael Flores, a firefighter with union backing.
John Matthews, president of Madison Teachers Inc, says his union is planning to be very active in support of Silveira and Flores. In not-so-subtle terms, he challenged Burke's ability to understand the challenges that the Madison middle class and poor face in the school system.
"She's a one percenter," he said, invoking the language of the Occupy Wall Street movement. "She's a very nice person, a very well-intentioned person but you want somebody who understands what it's like to be a parent and understands the needs of parents to be involved."
Seat 1 Candidates:
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
Seat 2 Candidates:
Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
How would you like to go to MIT - for free? You can now. Starting this spring, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will be offering free online courses to anyone, anywhere in the world, through its new digital arm, MITx. These courses will be much more than lectures on videotape. Students will be able to interact with other students online and have access to online labs and self-assessment tools. And here's the really revolutionary part: If you can show you've learned the material, for a small fee, MITx will give you a credential to prove it. No, it's not a full-blown MIT degree. But employers will probably be impressed.
Seventeen-year-old Katie Wormald has more than a passing interest in soccer. She's been playing since she was 5, plans to compete in college -- and maybe earn a business degree to start a soccer-related company.
But because Wormald attends classes in her living room instead of a classroom, she lost a chance to play on a more competitive public high school team. Instead, she plays in recreational leagues, on travel teams and at a small, local private school.
For more than 100 years the standard view among traditional language theorists was that, with the exception of onomatopoeia like "fizz" and "beep," the sound of a word tells us nothing about how it is used. This seemingly arbitrary relationship between words and their meaning in human language is hailed as singular to our species.
definition or risk to illustrate noun-verb connection
A new Cornell study takes that view to task.
"What we have shown is that the sound of a word can tell us something about how it is used," said Morten Christiansen, associate professor of psychology at Cornell. "Specifically, it tells us whether the word is used as a noun or as a verb, and this relationship affects how we process such words."
Christiansen, along with Thomas Farmer, a Cornell psychology graduate student, are co-authors of a paper about how the sounds of words contain information about their syntactic role. Their work will be published in the Aug. 8 print issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin is starting to feel surrounded. On her state's southern border, Texas has no income tax. Now two of its other neighbors, Missouri and Kansas, are considering plans to cut and eventually abolish their income taxes. "Oklahoma doesn't want to end up an income-tax sandwich," she quips.
On Monday she announced her new tax plan, which calls for lowering the state income-tax rate to 3.5% next year from 5.25%, and an ambition to phase out the income tax over 10 years. "We're going to have the most pro-growth tax system in the region," she says.
How is your new year's resolution to read more and write better holding up? After tracing the fascinating story of the most influential writing style guide of all time and absorbing advice on writing from some of modern history's most legendary writers, here comes some priceless and pricelessly uncompromising wisdom from a very different kind of cultural legend: iconic businessman and original "Mad Man" David Ogilvy. On September 7th, 1982, Ogilvy sent the following internal memo to all agency employees, titled "How to Write":
If ramen noodle sales spike at the start of every semester, here's one possible reason: textbooks can cost as much as a class itself; materials for an introductory physics course can easily top $300.
Cost-conscious students can of course save money with used or online books and recoup some of their cash come buyback time. Still, it's a steep price for most 18-year-olds.
But soon, introductory physics texts will have a new competitor, developed at Rice University. A free online physics book, peer-reviewed and designed to compete with major publishers' offerings, will debut next month through the non-profit publisher OpenStax College.
The Wisconsin Policy Research Institute's George Lightbourn on the correct way to assess state finances (which is not now being done by the Walker administration, nor was it done by the Doyle, McCallum, Thompson, Earl, Dreyfus, Schreiber or Lucey administrations, and so on, and so on, and so on):Sheila Weinberg from the Institute for Truth in Accounting coined the term, "political math." When politicians delay a payment and refer to the delay as a "savings," they're using political math. Or when no money is set aside for a bill they know is coming due, practitioners of political call the IOU a "savings." It's political math that allows state government to meet the balanced budget requirement while state accountants show it to be running a $3 billion deficit (according to the official tally released over the Christmas holiday).
Both Republicans and Democrats have used political math to make budgets balance over the years. Political math allowed my former boss Scott McCallum to balance the budget using one-time tobacco money and it was political math that green lighted Jim Doyle to "borrow" over $1 billion from the transportation fund. Thanks to political math, Governors and legislatures of all political stripe have been able to buy more government than they could really afford.
It's prelim week at Cedars. In Scotland, pupils with additional needs can use a "Digital Question Paper" to complete their exam.
A DQP is a PDF with embedded forms. The pupil sits at a computer and fills in the form to answer the questions. For exams involving graphs, equations or other hard-to-do-on-the-computer things, they can also switch to working on paper. At the end of the exam, the PDF is printed out and the exam goes away on paper with the rest to be marked.
So this week it's been my job to get this going. I thought it would be useful to write down the process and considerations for doing this on our computer infrastructure.
What do symphony orchestras and cigarette companies have in common? It's the age problem. How do you stay in business when your customers keep dying?
For orchestras, at least it's not their product that's lethal, though it might as well be. With the median age of concertgoers rising, fewer than one in 10 adults reported attending a classical concert in 2008, according to a periodic survey conducted by the National Endowment for the Arts, a 28 percent drop since 1982. The financial state of orchestras today is roughly comparable to that of Blockbuster Video post-Netflix. Ticket sales are dropping; layoffs and bankruptcies abound. In the past two years, the Honolulu, Syracuse, and New Mexico orchestras closed up shop entirely; the Philadelphia Orchestra, long revered as one of the five best in the country, filed for Chapter 11 protection in April.
Madison Schools Superintendent Dan Nerad packed the house Monday night for what he termed "a call to action" to the community to join his administration in a strategy to close the racial achievement gap that has haunted the school district for decades.Tepid response to Nerad's plan to close achievement gap in Madison school district; $105,600,000 over 5 Years.
His blueprint for change, "Building our Future," weighs in at 100 pages and took an hour to outline with a Power Point presentation to an audience of about 200 at the Fitchburg Community Center. The proposal will be digested, dissected and debated in the weeks to come, including at a series of community meetings hosted by the school district.
But one thing is clear: from Nerad's point of view, the future of children of color in our city lies not only in the hands of the teachers and administrators who shape their lives at school, but also in the hands of their families, their neighbors, and members of the community who live and work all around town.
"It can't be the schools alone; it has to be the schools working with the community if we're going to have outcomes," he said.
Madison school superintendent Dan Nerad unveiled his long awaited, and much anticipated plan (mp3 audio) to close the district's more than 40-year-old racial achievement gap Monday night before the full school board and around 75 citizens who packed into a room inside the Fitchburg library.Ideally, substantive program review in necessities such as reading and math would occur prior to the addition of new spending.
The 109-page plan, titled "Building Our Future: The Preliminary Plan for Eliminating Gaps in MMSD Student Achievement," makes about 40 recommendations at a cost of $60.3 million over the next five years.
Several recommendations called for building on existing programs, like AVID/TOPS, an acclaimed program that focuses on students in the academic middle.
Others, like a "parent university," a model school for culturally relevant teaching, career academies within the high schools and a student-run youth court, would be new to the district.
Matthew DeFour helpfully puts dollars ($105,600,000 over 5 years, about 5.6% of the roughly $1,860,000,000 that the District will spend over the same period) to the proposal. How does that compare with current programs and the proposed the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school?
As the Chicago Public Schools begin what are certain to be contentious contract talks with the Chicago Teachers Union, Mayor Rahm Emanuel emerged as the star of a new online video criticizing the union and promoting charter schools, whose teachers mostly are not unionized.
An interview with Mr. Emanuel is a highlight of the 35-minute video, produced by the Michigan-based Education Action Group Foundation and the Fox News political analyst Juan Williams. Mr. Williams narrates the video, saying the union is "radically politicized" and is "repeatedly providing terrible examples for Chicago's schoolchildren."
A spokeswoman for Mr. Emanuel said last week that the mayor did not share those views of the union, and his comments in the video were more measured, but union officials were still upset. The mayor discussed how he faced union opposition to some of his education proposals, such as extending the length of the school day this year.
I hated homework when I was a student, I hate the battle of wills I have with my second-grader and I hate seeing my middle-school-age son miss out on the afternoons of his childhood.
But most of all, I hate being a hypocrite. So it's time to come clean: I am a teacher, and I assign homework.
I have always assigned homework because that is what teachers do; if I didn't, word would get around that I am a pushover, or don't care enough about my students to engage their every waking moment with academics. When I first started teaching, I assigned homework liberally and without question, and scoffed at my students' complaints about their workload. I expected them to keep quiet, buck up and let me do my job.
It's a little early for budget season, but Sunday's State Journal included an article by Matt DeFour that kicks off discussion of the school district's finances for 2012-13. According to the article, preliminary numbers indicate about a $12.4 million budget gap for the district.
Here are ten quick thoughts on these preliminary figures.
1. To make sense of budget gap talk, it's helpful to understand the assumptions behind the concept. Budget gaps are traditionally calculated within the context of a school district's state-imposed revenue limit authority. (For the sake of clarity, it's helpful to think of revenue limits as spending limits.). Costs are projected to go up by X millions, the school district is constrained by revenue limits to increase its spending by no more than Y millions, and the difference between X and Y is the measure of the gap that traditionally has to be bridged through painful budget cuts.
Research supports parental involvement as a viable means of enhancing children's academic success. Once again, Michelle Belnavis, a cultural relevance instructional resource teacher (K-5) for MMSD, has organized an event that brings African American community leaders, families, staff, students, and neighborhood organizations together to provide inspiration and information to schools and neighborhoods in honor of National African American Parent Involvement Day.
"We have been doing a lot of research in looking at the effect of having parents' actively involved in their children's education and a big part is that relationship-building," Belnavis tells The Madison Times. "This gives an opportunity for teachers and families and parents to come together for the purpose of celebrating unity. I think a lot of times when parents come into school there's a feeling like, 'I don't really belong here' or 'My children go to school here but I don't really have a connection with the teacher.'
Los Angeles Unified School District is embroiled in negotiations over teacher evaluations, and will now face pressure from outside the district intended to force counter-productive teacher evaluation methods into use. Yesterday, I read this Los Angeles Times article about a lawsuit to be filed by an unnamed "group of parents and education advocates." The article notes that, "The lawsuit was drafted in consultation with EdVoice, a Sacramento-based group. Its board includes arts and education philanthropist Eli Broad, former ambassador Frank Baxter and healthcare company executive Richard Merkin." While the defendant in the suit is technically LAUSD, the real reason a lawsuit is necessary according to the article is that "United Teachers Los Angeles leaders say tests scores are too unreliable and narrowly focused to use for high-stakes personnel decisions." Note that, once again, we see a journalist telling us what the unions say and think, without ever, ever bothering to mention why, offering no acknowledgment that the bulk of the research and the three leading organizations for education research and measurement (AERA, NCME, and APA) say the same thing as the union (or rather, the union is saying the same thing as the testing expert). Upon what research does the other side base arguments in favor of using test scores and "value-added" measurement (VAM) as a legitimate measurement of teacher effectiveness? They never answer, but the debate somehow continues ad nauseum.Much more on "value added assessment", here.
It's not that the plaintiffs in this case are wrong about the need to improve teacher evaluations. Accomplished California Teachers has published a teacher evaluation report that has concrete suggestions for improving evaluations as well, and we are similarly disappointed in the implementation of the Stull Act, which has been allowed to become an empty exercise in too many schools and districts.
A day before the Super Bowl, hundreds of people lined up for an altogether different, though similarly named, event.
The annual "Souper Bowl" event is now in its 16th year raising money for Habitat for Humanity.
This year's "Souper Bowl" was held at Madison West High School where attendees bought bowls made by members of the community.
Luke Chung, president and founder of a software development company in Tysons Corner, volunteered many times to help the Fairfax County school system with computer and business issues. He was a nice guy, so when the county needed to fill two slots reserved for outsiders (what educators often call non-educators) on the Teacher Performance Evaluation Task Force, he was appointed.
He might have seemed to some a genial innocent who would not get in the way of the teachers, principals and administrators who were the majority. But Chung was an experienced manager motivated to nudge the task force in new directions. He revealed in his company blog his astonished reaction to the key issue:
"As an outsider who has never been evaluated as a teacher, you can imagine my surprise to discover that although principals were judged by their school's student performance, student performance is not part of a teacher's performance evaluation in our county," he wrote. "Are you kidding me?" Chung's italics, not mine.
He got the basics. "Not all students are equal, and we don't want to have a system where teachers are evaluated solely on student performance because the incentive would be to only want to teach good students," he wrote. He saw some sense in value-added measurements, rating teachers on how much their students improved. But there were practical problems, he said, "such as kids moving in and out of classes within the year, impacts on kids outside teacher control, whether the test is a good measurement, multiple teacher collaborative environments, etc."
The Chester Upland School District is more than $20 million in debt, its bank account is almost empty and it cannot afford to pay teachers past the end of this month.
To make matters worse, the local charter school, with which the district must divide its financing, is suing the district over unpaid bills.
The district's fiscal woes are the product of a toxic brew of budget cuts, mismanagement and the area's poverty. Its problems are compounded by the Chester Community Charter School, a nonprofit institution that is managed by a for-profit company and that now educates nearly half of the district's students.
The district sees the charter as a vampire, sucking up more than its fair share of scarce resources. The state, it says, is giving the charter priority over the district.
"It's not competition, it's just draining resources from the district," said Catherine Smith, a principal at Columbus Elementary, a district school. "It's a charter school on steroids."
I think going to university is now too expensive, time consuming, restrictive and potentially soul-destroying for people with talent to bother with anymore.
University has become a terrible deal, and most ambitious people shouldn't go.
There, I said it.
I don't know why it's taken me so long to admit to myself that tuition fees, student loans, and the fact that any muppet who can write his or her own name now goes to university means it's a waste of time to do so.
Wisconsin's public school open enrollment period begins Monday, and for the first time, families will have three months to decide whether and where to enroll their students outside of their home school district.Related: Madison School District Outbound Open Enrollment Applications 2010-2011 School Year; As of 3/18/2010.
For the Madison School District, the extra time could mean more families choosing to leave for other districts or virtual schools, though Superintendent Dan Nerad said it's too early to know what the affect will be.
"By the nature that there's an open window, that's likely to happen for us as well as other districts around the state," Nerad said.
Gov. Scott Walker signed legislation last week extending the official open enrollment period from three weeks in February to three months. Applications must be completed by April 30.
Proponents of the change, including school choice advocates and the virtual school industry, tout open enrollment as giving parents and students more control of their educational options.
Altogether, Nerad makes about 40 recommendations in six categories -- instruction, college and career readiness, culturally relevant practices, school environment, family engagement and staff diversity.Related:
"The plan is based on the view that there isn't one thing alone the school district can do to eliminate achievement gaps," Nerad said. "We're attempting to be comprehensive with the proposal."
The plan's projected cost for next year is $12.4 million, which Nerad is recommending come from the district's untapped property taxing authority under state-imposed limits. The amount includes adding about 67.5 positions, including behavioral support staff, reading specialists and parent liaisons.
Some recommendations wouldn't take effect until future years. The district estimates they will cost $20.9 million in 2013-14 and $26.6 million by 2016-17. The district doesn't have the authority to raise property taxes by that amount, though Nerad said part of the discussion in coming months will involve whether the private and nonprofit sectors can help fund the strategies.
"We're going to have to struggle through the conversation of how to get it done," Nerad said.
Kaleem Caire, via email:
February 6, 2011
Greetings Community Member.
This evening, at 6pm at the Fitchburg Library, Madison Metropolitan School District Superintendent Daniel Nerad will present his plan for eliminating the racial achievement gap in our public schools to the Board of Education. We anticipate there will be many citizens in the audience listening in.
While we are pleased that our advocacy over the last 19 months has resulted in the District developing a plan to address the gap, we are also mindful of history. Our organization has pushed hard for our public school system to embrace change, address the gap and expand educational opportunity many times before.
In the 1960s, Madison learned that a wide gap existed between black and white students in reading, math and high school completion in Madison's public schools. In the 1970s, the Urban League of Greater Madison reported that just 60% of black students were graduating from the city's public high schools. In the 1980s, ULGM released a widely reported study that found the average GPA for a black high school student attending the city's public high schools was 1.58 on a 4.00 scale, with 61% scoring below a 2.0 GPA. It also found that a disproportionate number of black students were enrolled in remedial math and science classes, and that black students were significantly over-represented in special education and school suspensions. Then, in the 1990s, the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute issued a report that stated there were two school districts in MMSD, one that poorly served black children and one that served everyone else.
Today, just 48% of black and 56% of Latino students are graduating from high school. Just 1% of black and 7% of Latino high school seniors are academically ready for college. Nearly 40% of all black boys in middle school are enrolled in special education, and more than 60% of black and 50% of Latino high school students earn below a 2.0 GPA.
Over the years, several district-wide efforts have been tried. Unfortunately, many of these efforts have either been discontinued, unevenly implemented, ineffective, lacked the support of parents/community/teachers, or failed to go far enough to address the myriad needs of students, families, teachers and schools. Madison also has a well-documented history of not heeding the advice of leaders and educators of color or educational experts, and not investing in efforts to codify and replicate successful strategies employed by its most effective educators. MMSD also has not acted fast enough to address its challenges and rarely looks beyond its borders for strategies that have proven effective elsewhere in the country.
The stakes are higher now; too high to continue on our present course of incrementalism rooted in our fear of the unknown, fear of significant change, and fear of admitting that our view of Madison being the utopic experience of the Midwest and #1 city in the U.S. doesn't apply to everyone who lives here. We no longer have the luxury of time to figure out how to address the gap. We cannot afford to lose nearly 300 black, 200 Latino and an untold number of Southeast Asian and underprivileged white students each year from our public schools. And we cannot afford to see hundreds of students leave our school system each year for public and private schools outside of the Madison Metropolitan School District.
We must embrace strategies that work. We must also behave differently than we have in the past, and can no longer afford to be afraid of addressing intersection or race and poverty, and how they are playing out in our schools, social relationships and community, and impacting the educational success of our kids.
Furthermore, we need all hands on deck. Everyone in our community must play a role in shaping the self-image, expectations and outcomes of our children - in school, in the community and at home. Some children have parents who spend more quality time with their career and coworkers than with their family. Some children have a parent or relative who struggles to raise them alone. Some have parents who are out of work, under stress and struggling to find a job to provide for their family. And unfortunately, some children have parents who make bad decisions and/or don't care about their well-being. Regardless of the situation, we cannot allow the lack of quality parenting to be the excuse why we don't reach, teach, or hold children accountable and prepare them for the future.
As we prepare to review the Superintendent's plan, we have developed a rubric that will allow for an objective review of his proposal(s). The attached rubric, which you can access by clicking here, was developed and informed by members of the staff and Board of Director of ULGM, business and community leaders, and teachers and leading experts in the field of K-12 and higher education. The tool will be used by an independent Community Review Panel, organized by the Urban League. pver the next several weeks to vet the plan. The intent of this review is to ensure MMSD has an optimal plan for ensuring that all of the children it serves succeed academically and graduate from high school prepared for college and work.
Specifically, our reasons for establishing this rubric and a Community Review Panel are four-fold:
We have high expectations of the Superintendent's plan. We hope for a bold, transformational, aggressive and concise plan, and stand ready to assist the Superintendent and his team in any way we can. We hope you will be standing their with us, with your arms outstretched and ready to uplift or babies - the next generation.
- Develop an objective and comprehensive understanding of the plan and its many elements;
- Objectively review the efficacy of the plan, its goals and objectives, and desired outcomes;
- Formally communicate thoughts, concerns and ideas for supporting and/or improving the plan; and
- Effectively engage the Madison community in supporting and strengthening its public schools.
All Hands on Deck!
Team Urban League of Greater Madison
Urban League of Greater Madison 2012 Agenda
When my daughter was 18 months old, my husband and I decided to take her on a little summer holiday. We picked a coastal town that's a few hours by train from Paris, where we were living (I'm American, he's British), and booked a hotel room with a crib. Bean, as we call her, was our only child at this point, so forgive us for thinking: How hard could it be?
We ate breakfast at the hotel, but we had to eat lunch and dinner at the little seafood restaurants around the old port. We quickly discovered that having two restaurant meals a day with a toddler deserved to be its own circle of hell.
Bean would take a brief interest in the food, but within a few minutes she was spilling salt shakers and tearing apart sugar packets. Then she demanded to be sprung from her high chair so she could dash around the restaurant and bolt dangerously toward the docks.
With public university administrators continually arguing for tuition increases to counter state appropriations cuts, it seems far-fetched that their budget problems could be solved by eliminating student tuition and fees altogether.
But that's the idea put forth by a group of students from the University of California at Riverside, who in January proposed a new funding model for the University of California system that seeks to solve two of the system's biggest problems: unpredictable and large decreases in state appropriations, and the steady increase in tuition costs.
Under the students' plan, called the UC Student Investment Proposal, students in the system would pay no upfront costs for their education but would agree to pay 5 percent of their income to the system for 20 years after graduating and entering the workforce
Here are things that impressed Desiree Pointer Mace when she and her husband were considering where to send their first child for school: The seventh and eighth graders at Woodlands School, 5510 W. Blue Mound Road, held the door for guests, said hello and shook hands. And you could ask a student in any class what he or she was working on and get a good answer.
Pointer Mace is not your typical parent. She is associate dean for graduate programs in education at Alverno College.
But if her credentials are distinctive, the goals she has for school for her children are not unusual: A place where they thrive and develop, both in academics and in personal traits.
Only some of the things she - or any good parent - want can be reduced to numbers or grades. A lot of important aspects of a school involve quality, not quantity. They can be put under the broad label of "school culture."
Show me a good school and I'll show you a place where kids not only get good grades and scores, but a place where relationships of all kinds matter and are healthy.
If there was ever a movie to make you laugh to keep from crying, it's this one.
Austin, an intrepid young student-reporter, embarks on the noble mission of answering the question, "How much basic knowledge do American high school students really have?" The answer, however, may not be exactly what you want to hear.
"Do you know the vice president of The United States?" Austin asks.
"I don't know who it it's, it's, it's somebody....Bin Ladin," one student responds.
The video continues in similar fashion, asking everything from, "In what war did America gain independence?" (which no one answered correctly without a hint) to "What countries border America?"
This is my third and (I hope) last column in a series on education. If things work as planned this is where I'll make some broad generalizations that piss-off a lot of people, incite a small riot in the comments section, after which we'll all feel better and switch to discussing the Facebook IPO. So let's get to it. I believe that education is broken in the U.S. and probably everywhere else, that it is incapable of fixing itself, and our only significant hope is to be found in the wisdom of Sharon Osbourne.
These conclusions are based on my experiences as a teacher, a parent, on the content of those two previous columns, one visit to OzzFest, and on my having this week read a couple books:
The Learning Edge: what technology can do to educate all children, by Alan Bain and Mark E. Weston.
Teaching Minds: How Cognitive Science Can Save Our Schools, by Roger Schank.
Mary Battaglia kindly forwarded this email sent to the Madison School Board:
The high school graduation racial gap has been in the Madison news as though it only affects our fair city. It does not require much research, something the local media has failed to do, to see this is a national concern. According to an analysis called "Schott 50 State Report on Black Males in Public Education," nationally only 47% of black males graduated from high school in 2007. (1) It has been reported that Madison's graduation rate for black males is 50%. Obviously a pathetic rate compared to the 87% for whites, but what has not been a part of the local conversation is how Madison compares in relationship to the rest of the nation, and perhaps figure out where black males are graduating at a higher rate, and why. The Schott's report, revealed two communities with large minority populations with much better graduation outcomes than the rest of the nation, Baltimore and Fort Bend, Texas. What MMSD should be looking into is what are these cities doing, and what curricula or community effort has made them successful? One interesting part of the gap for Madison and the state of Wisconsin is the high rate of whites graduating. While Wisconsin is the worst defender in the racial gap, the states total graduation rate is one the highest in the nation.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
When you read various assessments of the "reason" for the gap nationally, the theories include the lack of financial investment, lack of good teachers, and the lack of community structure. While I find these proposals reasonable, I fail to understand how in this community they are relevant. MMSD spends well over $13,000 per student, lack the overwhelming urban problems of Milwaukee and Chicago, and have many fine teachers that somehow get non-minority students educated. These excuses ring hallow as to why MMSD has such a poor rate. What does ring true is we are not educating the population as it exist today. In the last 25 years the MMSD's minority rate has increased from 20% to one closer to 48%. (2) In the last 25 years MMSD has changed from a district of less than 25% free and reduced lunch to one that is closer to 50%. (3)Madison is still teaching to the population of 25 years ago, the students have changed, but the curriculum has not.
Perhaps, MMSD could improve the graduation rate for all students, with a significant change of focus. For example, MMSD's high school's emphasize 4 year college candidates when many of the students would do better in a 2 year or technology school focus. There has been an increased coordination with MATC, but what would be beneficial is to offer a dual graduation for students, so as they graduate from MMSD, they also have a 2 year degree or a certificate from MATC. This is a system that has been successful in a high school in North Carolina. (4) A student that wants to head to college still has that opportunity and perhaps a chance to make some money to support the effort. Perhaps, another way to improve graduation outcomes would include an overhaul of the summer school program. Currently, MMSD summer school staff are paid poorly, the programs focus is mostly on students that have flunked their classes and need a recovery grade, and the programs poor reputation have lead many staff to discourage students from participating. (5) Why not invest in a comprehensive retooling of the summer program that provides a better salary for staff, and includes enrichment, regular classes, as well as recovery options. Let's find a creative summer program with smaller class sizes and build a program that is the envy of the country and one that works. If summer school is going to be provided, then make it an awesome program, not just a warehouse for failing kids. Perhaps, as most research reveals, early education is a key component to better graduation outcomes, and the district finally is getting a 4K program up and running after a decade long battle with the union.
Madison Prep was an idea, but it is a unique group of students that would select to participate in such a rigorous program, which means an already motivated student or parents with very high expectations, both factors that frequently mean a student would do well anyway. MMSD needs to look at students that may not be that motivated or academically talented and assess what works to keep them engaged. The one thing MMSD has no control over is probably the most important issue for a students outcome. Research concludes the number one predictor of a students academic success is parental expectations. (6) Our schools cannot change parental expectations, however, they can change what a student expects. MMSD students need to expect a positive future, a purpose and a reason to stay in school. Not all kids will succeed but more than half of the black male students should. Let's develop a district that gives all the students the opportunity to succeed.
DPI.wi.gov Public school data
This statement is based on personal experience of having many staff, from middle school up to high school, discourage my daughter who struggles in math from attending summer school. I have also spoke to many parents with the same experience.
*** Of note the data of graduation rate is debated in academic circles as the data is not always standardized. Some data includes GED and 5 year rates others include only 4 year rates.
Mary Kay Battaglia
We envision a writing community for students in Denver where they can enjoy writing. More often than not, schools cannot provide a place in which creativity and discovery receive one-on-one attention. Students too often view writing as yet another task for which they will be assessed and graded. We hope to help them understand that writing is a vehicle for expression and communication, for publication and storytelling.Great.
When Christopher Chamness entered the third grade last year, he began to get stomach aches before school. His mother, Edy, said the fire had gone out of a child who she said had previously gone joyfully to his classes.
One day, when he was bored in class, Christopher broke a pencil eraser off in his ear canal. It was the tipping point for Ms. Chamness, a former teacher, and she asked to observe his Austin elementary school classroom. What she saw was a "work sheet distribution center" aimed at preparing students for the yearly assessments that they begin in third grade and that school districts depend upon for their accountability ratings.
Arizonans cannot afford to wait for better education. Although Arizona is one of the fastest improving states in education, at the current rate, it would take decades for our students to catch up with those in the number one state in the country, Massachusetts.Pearl Chang Esau is President/CEO of Expect More Arizona.
Arizona students continue to lag their national and international peers in academic performance, high school graduation rates and degree attainment. With 74 percent of Arizona fourth graders below proficient in reading and 69 percent of our eighth graders below proficient in math, the gap is only widening between the preparedness of our graduates and the skills and knowledge Arizona employers require.
Fortunately, Tucson has many examples of bright spots that show all of us the potential for Arizona education. Tucson Unified School District's University High School was recently named a 2011 Higher Performing School by the National Center for Education Achievement; Vail Unified School District is nationally recognized for its use of technology to engage students and raise student achievement; BASIS Charter School, which started in Tucson and has grown to other parts of the state, was named a top high school by Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report; and the University of Arizona is ranked among the top public research universities in the nation. All of them embrace a culture of high expectations and are working to ensure all students graduate ready to compete and succeed in the 21st century global economy.
SOMETIMES it takes but a single pebble to start an avalanche. On January 21st Timothy Gowers, a mathematician at Cambridge University, wrote a blog post outlining the reasons for his longstanding boycott of research journals published by Elsevier. This firm, which is based in the Netherlands, owns more than 2,000 journals, including such top-ranking titles as Cell and the Lancet. However Dr Gowers, who won the Fields medal, mathematics's equivalent of a Nobel prize, in 1998, is not happy with it, and he hoped his post might embolden others to do something similar.
It did. More than 2,700 researchers from around the world have so far signed an online pledge set up by Tyler Neylon, a fellow-mathematician who was inspired by Dr Gowers's post, promising not to submit their work to Elsevier's journals, or to referee or edit papers appearing in them. That number seems, to borrow a mathematical term, to be growing exponentially. If it really takes off, established academic publishers might find they have a revolution on their hands.
A state law that allows school districts to deny enrollment to students expelled by other districts is unconstitutional, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Dane County Circuit Court.
The suit was filed against the Oregon School District, which denied enrollment to a middle school student after the Janesville School District expelled him in November.
The student was expelled after serving suspensions last October for an alleged sexual assault and possession of tobacco on campus, according to the complaint. The student denied both charges, the complaint states.
Jeffrey Spitzer-Resnick, an attorney with Disability Rights Wisconsin. said his organization disapproves of the expulsion law, which has been on the books since 1997. The state constitution guarantees a free education to all students between the ages of 4 and 20.
The eighth-graders sat hunched over photos of European art, looking for a single painting to emulate for a class project.
But only one student cracked open an actual art history book; the rest slid their thumbs across vivid photos on iPod Touches, or clicked through Google image files on laptops or netbooks they'd brought from home.
In an attempt to bring more technology into the classroom without investing in school-funded 1-to-1 laptop initiatives, more school districts like Erin are experimenting with "bring your own device" opportunities, in which teachers adjust curriculum to leverage whatever hand-held or portable computing device children's parents allow them to bring to school.
The first "BYOD" day at Erin School was an experiment undertaken in honor of Wisconsin's Digital Learning Day, part of a national initiative Wednesday spearheaded by the nonprofit Alliance for Excellent Education marked by real-life activities in 39 states and virtual participation in online forums.
Last year my commenters and I discussed Ed Glaeser's claim that the way to create a great city is to "create a great university and wait 200 years."
I passed this on to urbanist Richard Florida and received the following response:This is a tough one with lots of causality issues. Generally speaking universities make places stronger. But this is mainly the case for smaller, college towws. Boulder, Ann Arbor and so on, which also have very high human capital levels and high levels of creative, knowledge and professional workers.I responded: Another factor in the interaction is: how good does the university have to be? Glaeser cited UW and Seattle, but that's kind of a funny example, because I don't think UW was such a great university 30 years ago. On the other hand, given the existence of Boeing and Microsoft, UW is good enough to do the job of providing a center for the creative class. Perhaps Ohio State (another good but not great university) has played a similar role in Columbus.
For big cities the issue is mixed. Take Pittsburgh with CMU and Pitt or Baltimore with Hopkins, or St Louis. The list goes on and on.
Kevin Stolarick and I framed this very crudely as a transmitter reciever issue. The university in a city like this can generate a lot of signal, in terms of innovation or even human capital and the city may not receive it or push it away. A long ago paper by Mike Fogarty showed how innovations in Pittsburgh and Cleveland, by universities in these communities, tended to be picked up in Silicon Valley or even Tokyo.
The dangers which Peter Wilby points out (Does Gove realise he is empowering future dictators?, 31 January) were recognised 70 years ago. Unfortunately secretaries of state know very little history. The Oxford historian Dr Marjorie Reeves, when invited to be on the Central Advisory Council For Education (England) in 1946, was told by the permanent secretary, John Redcliffe-Maud, that the main duty of council members was "to be prepared to die at the first ditch as soon as politicians try to get their hands on education".
A war had been fought to prevent the consequences of such concentrated power. The 1944 Education Act, hammered out during the war years, created a "maintained system" of education as a balance of power between central government, local government responsibility, the voluntary bodies (mainly the churches) and the teachers. That balance is now disappearing fast, without the public debate it needs and with hardly a squeak from Labour. The existing education legislation refers to the fast-disappearing "maintained schools", leaving academies and free schools exposed, without the protection of the law, to whatever whimsical ideas are dreamt up by the present or future secretaries of state, to whom they are contracted with minimal accountability to parliament.
Professor Richard Pring
Green Templeton College, Oxford
• The removal of 3,100 vocational subjects from the school performance tables from 2014 (Report, 31 January) has major implications. It is certainly the case that "perverse incentives" were created by the league tables to use soft options to boost school league table positions - the phenomenon known as gaming. However, the cull to 70 accepted vocational subjects, with 55 allowed on the margins, essentially destroys vocational and technical education. Given that the old basis is the one for the current (2012 and 2013) tables, a whole raft of students are on worthless courses.
Unlike many of my colleagues and friends, I personally support the use of standardized testing results in education policy, even, with caution and in a limited role, in high-stakes decisions. That said, I also think that the focus on test scores has gone way too far and their use is being implemented unwisely, in many cases to a degree at which I believe the policies will not only fail to generate improvement, but may even risk harm.
In addition, of course, tests have a very productive low-stakes role to play on the ground - for example, when teachers and administrators use the results for diagnosis and to inform instruction.
Frankly, I would be a lot more comfortable with the role of testing data - whether in policy, on the ground, or in our public discourse - but for the relentless flow of misinterpretation from both supporters and opponents. In my experience (which I acknowledge may not be representative of reality), by far the most common mistake is the conflation of student and school performance, as measured by testing results.
I am running for the Madison School Board because I care about the state of our public schools and this community.The 2012 Madison School Board Contest:
The facts are: I am employed at the Urban League of Greater Madison and spoke in support of Madison Prep as a parent and citizen. Am I running because Madison Prep was voted down? No. My focus is broader than the charter school proposal, but the Madison Prep vote was a defining moment in my decision to declare candidacy.
It became apparent to me as I sat in the auditorium that night that we can no longer afford to wait for our district to take the casual approach to the urgent matter of minority under-achievement. Our entire community is affected by the failure to do so.
Every child in this district -- from the at-risk, the middle-of-the-road student, to the most academically talented -- should have an equal opportunity to thrive in our school system. And here's the reality, Madison -- we are not delivering.
It's been hard for us to accept that we are a different community than we were 10 years ago, but we are. If we move beyond politically correct conversations about race and poverty, we'd readily realize that we cannot go about "business as usual."
Seat 1 Candidates:
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
Seat 2 Candidates:
Are hardbound textbooks going the way of slide rules and typewriters in schools?
Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski on Wednesday challenged schools and companies to get digital textbooks in students' hands within five years. The Obama administration's push comes two weeks after Apple Inc. announced it would start to sell electronic versions of a few standard high-school books for use on its iPad tablet.
Digital books are viewed as a way to provide interactive learning, potentially save money and get updated material faster to students.
The performance of US university endowments has continued to improve, with an average return of 19.2 per cent posted in the year to June 30, according to a new study.
The financial crisis and accompanying slide in equity markets negatively affected educational endowments, putting further stress on a sector that has been reeling from a decline in government funding. Public universities have been pushed in recent years to fill budget gaps through investments and donations as the cost of education has increased, a problem highlighted in last week's state of the union address by President Barack Obama.
In spite of the upturn in returns from the 11.9 per cent reported for 2010, the first positive returns since 2007, educational endowments were unlikely to recover to pre-crisis levels for several years yet, said John Walda, president and chief executive of the National Association of College and University Business Officers (Nacubo), which represents more than 2,500 US higher education institutions.
An 11-year-old class-action lawsuit that has seen Milwaukee Public Schools battle a disability rights group, the state and the courts over how it finds and serves children with special needs came to a dramatic climax Friday when a federal appeals court ruled in favor of the district.
The decision, outlined in a dense 51-page ruling by a three-judge panel at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago, upholds all four areas of appeal the state's largest school district had sought - incuding the certification of the class itself.
By throwing out the class-certification order from a lower court, the judges subsequently vacated the liability and remedial orders the school district was under obligation to follow as well.
On Friday night, January 20th, my friend and fellow conservative blogger Mr. Chandler of Buckhorn Road zipped down to the Sacramento Convention Center to hear a talk by noted "education historian" Diane Ravitch. I didn't realize it was sponsored by a bunch of teachers unions; I thought it was going to be an intellectual talk by someone who used to agree with me but now has switched sides. I thought I was going to get some really good information that would "challenge my assumptions" and make me think. Instead, what I got was, if you'll pardon the mixed metaphor, a liberal red-meat bacchanalia. As Mr. Chandler described it, we were "pilgrims in an unholy land".
Milwaukee Public Schools Superintendent Gregory Thornton believes the best way to deal with youth violence, at least in the short term, is to take troublemakers out of regular schools and place them into alternative schools.
We agree. But there are not enough seats for the growing number of chronically disruptive youth, which is why the School Board should grant Thornton's request, coming in April, to fund more of those seats.
During the past two weeks, more than 20 students were arrested for fighting and disorderly conduct at Washington and Madison High Schools. Several Milwaukee police officers were injured during the incidents, including one officer who was kicked in the face by an 18-year-old.
Over the years, MPS has limited the number of violent incidents. But Thornton said MPS has been limited to Band-Aid approaches, and the recent uptick in violence is ominous.
Last year alone, the district spent about $10 million on safety measures, which included having additional security guards and metal detectors on every door at some schools. For a cash-strapped school district, that money would be better used on instruction.
What is this?
A new teaching with authority.
-- Mark 1:27
Over the last few weeks, we've been processing student assessments from fall semester. Reading student comments about my course and other profs' courses has me thinking about the different ways in which students "see" their instructors. Two profs can be equally knowledgable in an area yet give off very different vibes to their class. The vibe has a lot to do with how students interpret the instructor's behavior. It also affects student motivation and, ultimately, student learning.
Daniel Lemire recently offered two rules for teaching in the 21st century, one of which was to be an authentic role model. If students know that "someone ordinary" like a professor was able to master the course material, then they will have reason to believe that they can do the same. Authenticity is invaluable if we hope to model the mindset of a learner for our students.
It is also a huge factor in the classroom in another way as well. Students are also sensitive to whether we are authentic users of knowledge. If I am teaching agile approaches to software development but students perceive that I am not an agile developer when writing my own code outside the course, then they are less likely to take the agile approaches seriously. If I am teaching the use of some theoretical technique for solving a problem, say, nondeterministic finite state machines, but my students perceive that I do something else when I'm not teaching the course, then their motivation to master the technique wanes.
It is easy to look at the upcoming Spring elections and focus solely on the potential recall of Gov. Scott Walker. It has become a national issue, and millions of dollars from both Wisconsin and out-of-state are being thrown into the election. But there is another important choice to make on the ballot: two candidates for Madison school board representatives.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
While most school district elections are fairly boring and forgettable, this year's vote could help seal the fate of Madison Preparatory Academy. The proposed charter school is aimed at helping lower-income students gain access to college-prep courses. It is championed by Urban League of Greater Madison President Kaleem Caire, but has not gained his level of enthusiasm in the rest of the city. Voters should support Mary Burke and Nichelle Nichols who have pledged support for the school.
You work immense hours and subject yourself to scathing criticism all in the pursuit of better serving children. I know a few of you--and without fail you are all passionate about your work. In short, I'm a fan. So know that I'm not writing this letter to attack anyone--rather, I aim to offer advice, which I hope some of you accept.Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V
In the following letter I aim to convince you of this: the single most important reform strategy you can undertake is to increase charter school quality and market share in your city--with the ultimate aim of turning your district into a charter school district.
In other words: rid yourself of the notion that your current opinions on curriculum, teacher evaluation, technology, or anything else will be the foundation for dramatic gains in student achievement. If history tells us anything, they will not be:
We all want our Navy SEALS to be the best, but that means that a lot of people who might want to be SEALS don't get to be. We want our NFL quarterbacks and other players to be the best, but that means that a lot of player wannabes either don't get drafted or get cut along the way.
We want the best teachers for our students, but in the Quality Counts report on international benchmarking to find the best in educational practice in other countries, we dance around the fact that in Finland, Singapore and elsewhere, nine out of ten who want to be teachers are not accepted into training.
We seem to have conflicting goals in the United States. We want the best teachers, but we apparently also want just about everyone who wants to be a teacher to get to be one. So our schoolteachers, instead of coming from the top ten percent of their college classes academically, come, in most cases, from the bottom third of their classes, and half of them quit after five years.
If we want equality of educational opportunity for all our students, we may have to begin rejecting ninety percent of those who apply to be trained as teachers. That is what our more successful international peers are doing. They have larger classes as one result sometimes, but their students have a much better chance of being in those classes with a top-drawer teacher.
All those who continue to argue that the most important variable in student academic achievement is teacher quality should be willing to consider that in order to ensure teacher quality here it may be necessary to make it much harder to become a teacher for our students.
Of course all the vested interests in United States educational enterprises will resist this idea, but at least we should not be afraid to look at what our competitors are doing with it, and perhaps a few of us will be able to wonder how we can have the first-rate teachers we want for our students without selecting one out of ten candidates instead of seven or eight out of ten, or whatever our current rate is.
Education Week, in examining international practices among our competitors in the most recent Quality Counts report, seems to have danced away from those questions completely. And if in fact teacher quality is what makes the most difference for our students, dancing around the selection issue will not help to make that difference work for our students.
"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
The U.S. Education Department is probing complaints that Harvard University and Princeton University discriminate against Asian-Americans in undergraduate admissions.Steve Hsu on Transparency in college admissions:
The department's Office for Civil Rights is investigating a complaint it received in August that Harvard rejected an Asian- American candidate for the current freshman class based on race or national origin, a department spokesman said. The agency is looking into a similar August 2011 allegation against Princeton as part of a review begun in 2008 of that school's handling of Asian-American candidates, said the spokesman, who declined to be identified, citing department policy.
Both complaints involve the same applicant, who was among the top students in his California high school class and whose family originally came from India, according to the applicant's father, who declined to be identified.
Today we learned from Bloomberg that the U.S. Education Department is investigating complaints that Harvard University and Princeton University discriminate against Asian-Americans in undergraduate admissions. It is a common belief among Asian-American families that their children are held to higher academic standards than applicants from other ethnic groups, including whites. Such practices were openly acknowledged as a result of internal investigations at universities like Berkeley and Stanford in the 1980s and 1990s. Have they now been corrected?
Statistics seem to support a claim of widespread discrimination across most of elite higher education. For example, in comprehensive statistics compiled as part of Duke University's Campus Life and Learning project (as reported in a recent analysis by Duke economist Peter Arcidiacono and collaborators), Asian-American students averaged 1457 out of 1600 on the math and reading portion of the SAT, compared to 1416 for whites, 1347 for Hispanics and 1275 for blacks. There is every reason to believe that a similar pattern holds at nearly all elite universities in America, with some notable exceptions such as Caltech. In fact, Duke may be one of the mildest offenders when it comes to Asian-American admissions: with the goal of increasing its overall student quality, Duke has reportedly been more friendly recently to Asian-American applicants than traditional powers such as Harvard and Princeton.
They raise chickens. They grow vegetables. They knit. Now a new generation of urban parents is even teaching their own kids.
In the beginning, your kids need you--a lot. They're attached to your hip, all the time. It might be a month. It might be five years. Then suddenly you are expected to send them off to school for seven hours a day, where they'll have to cope with life in ways they never had to before. You no longer control what they learn, or how, or with whom.
Unless you decide, like an emerging population of parents in cities across the country, to forgo that age-old rite of passage entirely.
When Tera and Eric Schreiber's oldest child was about to start kindergarten, the couple toured the high-achieving public elementary school a block away from their home in an affluent Seattle neighborhood near the University of Washington. It was "a great neighborhood school," Tera says. They also applied to a private school, and Daisy was accepted. But in the end they chose a third path: no school at all.
In the Wild West of college admissions, there is no Data Sheriff.
The latest reminder arrived on Monday when Claremont McKenna College announced that a senior administrator had resigned after admitting to falsely reporting SAT statistics since 2005. In an e-mail to the campus, Pamela B. Gann, the college's president, said an internal review found that scores for each fall's freshman class had been "generally inflated by an average of 10-20 points each." The apparent perpetrator was Richard C. Vos, long the college's dean of admissions and financial aid, who has resigned from the college.
The announcement has shaken those who work on both sides of the admissions process. In the span of 24 hours, Mr. Vos, described by several colleagues as an engaging and thoughtful dean, has become a symbol of the pressures that come with top-level admissions jobs. As one mid-career dean said on Tuesday, "I just keep thinking about how much pressure an experienced and mature admissions professional must be under to do whatever he did."
Numerous academic studies have shown that income inequality in the U.S. over the 20th century exhibits a U-shape. After reaching a peak in the 1920s, it fell during the Great Depression and World War II and rebounded mainly in the 1980s and 1990s.1 The rebound has been attributed to various economic factors, such as globalization, immigration, the growth of super-star salaries, and the computer revolution. However, these factors might better be described as the normal outcomes of a growing economy, according to Adam Smith's idea that the division of labor is limited by the extent of the market. The resurgence of inequality has also been attributed to tax policy, particularly the reduction of top marginal rates on personal income from 94 percent in 1945 to 28 percent in 1988.2
The first decade of the 21st century does not exhibit the same trend. Based on the most recent IRS data, from 2009, income inequality has fluctuated considerably since 2000 but is now at about the level it was in 1997. Thus, the Bush-era tax cuts (which had provisions benefitting both high- and low-income taxpayers) did not lead to increased income inequality. By contrast, inequality rose 12 percent between 1993 and 2000, following two tax rate increases on high-income earners. Thus, changes in inequality over the last two decades appear to be driven more by the business cycle than by tax policy.
The parents of 4-year-olds with fall birthdays -- not yet in the public school system -- have already come face to face with the topsy-turvy ways of Sacramento.
Take the parents of kids born in November 2007. Since 2010, they've been told their children will be too young for kindergarten in 2012 under the new cutoff date, but that they will be entitled to a spot in a new grade-level, transitional kindergarten.
Now, about seven months before the first day of school, they learn that the governor is proposing to cut the program to save $223 million.
The final decision is up to the state Legislature, but -- as we all know -- that's likely months away. So, depending on where the families live, their school district might enroll them in transitional kinder anyway, hoping for the best, or inform them the class is being canceled. My colleague at the Mercury News, Sharon Noguchi, wrote about it this week.
In a dim, windowless classroom at GMS Moradbas school in rural Haryana state in north India, 40 young girls in their dark blue uniforms crouch on the floor in four straight lines.
Each is following a monotone reading by one of their classmates from a history book about one of India's liberation heroes. Not a computer, let alone a desk is in sight. Outside, beyond a field of yellow mustard seed and sparring goats, a new high-rise medical college rises above the mist on the edge of the town of Nuh, an hour's drive from Gurgaon, a new city born out of India's IT outsourcing boom.
In a recent essay in The Times, Lawrence Summers, the former president of Harvard University, wrote about preparing American students for the future. In the essay, he said that international experience was essential, arguing that English's emergence as the global language makes the investment in other languages less essential.
Below is a letter from Dr. Daniel Nerad, Superintendent of the Madison Metropolitan School District. Please show up on Monday, February 6 to learn about his plan and register to participate in an input session. We need you to exercise your voice, share your view and speak to our children's needs. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:
We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.
-- "Letter from Birmingham Jail," April 16, 1963
February 2, 2012
RE: Invitation to attend Board of Education meeting on Monday, February 6, 2012
Dear Community Leader:
As you may know, this Monday, February 6, 2012, we are poised to present to the Board of Education a significant and system-wide plan to close the achievement gaps in the Madison Metropolitan School District.
Building Our Future: A Plan for Eliminating Gaps in MMSD Student Achievement
We invite you to attend Monday's Board of Education workshop at the Fitchburg Public Library, 5530 Lacy Road in Fitchburg beginning at 6:00 p.m. This workshop is for presentation purposes only. Members of the public will not have the opportunity to speak. However, Monday's workshop marks the beginning of a two-month, community-wide engagement process. We invite parents, students, and residents concerned about the future of our children to join one or more of the many sessions held throughout Madison to learn about the achievement gaps in the MMSD and discuss and provide input into the plan.
I have greatly appreciated your concern, commitment, and willingness to challenge us to provide the kind of education that every child deserves and is due. Together, we must eliminate our achievement gaps.
The Board of Education workshop on Monday, February 6th is just the beginning. Please consider participating in one of the upcoming information and input sessions. To register for a session, go to: www.mmsd.org/inputsession
Beginning Tuesday, February 7, go to: www.mmsd.org/thefuture to read more about the Plan.
Daniel A. Nerad
Superintendent of Schools
Reprinted from a letter sent to community leaders today by Superintendent Nerad. We are sharing this to inform you and help the Madison Metropolitan School District get the word out. We have not yet seen the plan and therefore, this email should not viewed as an endorsement of it. We will reserve judgment until after the plan is released, we have had a chance to review it, and the public has responded.
Question 23 has implications for the future of our public schools, along with the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school:
Given Act 10's negative Impact on Collective Bargaining Agreements, will you introduce and vote for a motion to adopt the Collective Bargaining Agreements (182 page PDF Document) negotiated between MTI and The Madison Metropolitan School District as MMSD policy?Both Silveira and Flores answered Yes.
Seat 1 Candidates:
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
Seat 2 Candidates:
I suspect that at least 60% of Wisconsn school districts will adopt their current teacher contracts as "handbooks". The remainder will try different approaches. Some will likely offer a very different environment for teachers.
A lot is riding on Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad's upcoming plan for improving low-income, minority student achievement.
The plan is billed as a blueprint for addressing an intractable, divisive issue in Madison, and it could also factor into the upcoming School Board discussion of Nerad's future in Madison.
lot is riding on Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad's upcoming plan for improving low-income, minority student achievement.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
The plan is billed as a blueprint for addressing an intractable, divisive issue in Madison, and it could also factor into the upcoming School Board discussion of Nerad's future in Madison.
The United Way of Dane County has made closing the achievement gap one of its primary issues for more than 15 years through the Schools of Hope tutoring program. But president Leslie Howard said the recent debate over the proposed Madison Prepatory Academy charter school has drawn more public attention to the issue than ever before.
"I don't want to say something so grandiose that everything's at stake, but in some ways it feels like that," Howard said.
Wisconsin is fortunate to have many fine K-12 schools educating our young people. The quality of this state's educational system is among the best in the United States, and the same can be said for Wisconsin teachers.Wisconsin 25th in 2011 NAEP Reading, Comparing Rhetoric Regarding Texas (10th) & Wisconsin NAEP Scores: Texas Hispanic and African-American students rank second on eighth-grade NAEP math test.
Those accolades notwithstanding, there is one area in which Wisconsin schools should consider focusing some of their educational muscle: personal financial literacy.
More than ever before, our children -- by the time they graduate from high school -- need to be able to cope in the increasingly fast-paced world of financial services.
Today, many young people rarely handle cash, opting instead for the use of debit cards, credit cards and smartphones to make purchases. Those who have jobs probably never see a paycheck because most employers use direct deposit for their payrolls. And, most teens probably have never read the fine print of the contract for their mobile telecommunications devices.
States are now working intently on developing plans that will make new, common standards a reality. A recent report from Education First and the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center concludes that that all but one of the 47 states adopting the Common Core State Standards is now in the implementation phase. Seven states have fully upgraded professional development, curriculum materials, and evaluation systems in preparation for the 2014-2015 school year.
Nary a word has been spoken about how to prepare teachers to implement common standards appropriately in the early childhood years. Although the emphasis on content-rich instruction in ways that builds knowledge is an important one, standards groups have virtually ignored the early years when these critical skills first begin to develop.
Young children are eager to learn about the sciences, arts, and the world around them. And, as many early childhood teachers recognize, we need to provide content-rich instruction that is both developmentally appropriate and highly engaging to support students' learning.
Very soon, millions of high-schoolers will run a nerve-rattling gauntlet, perhaps for weeks: They will yank open their mailboxes and flip through the envelopes like one of those rapid-fire, dollar-bill sorting machines in all the gangster movies. Girth--that's what they're after. Because the plumper the package, the better the odds it contains that which matters most: a college acceptance letter!
Before triumph and tragedy ensue, I have a modest proposal for the future class of 2016. No matter what happens in the coming weeks, grab some solitude and contemplate one very important question: Am I really ready for college?
Let's cut right to the chase -- I have about the same chance of being picked up by the Boston Red Sox as a utility player as President Obama does of having his proposals to control college costs get through Congress this year. But looking at what the President proposed on Friday (in a raucous speech at the University of Michigan) through the lens of short-term Capitol Hill feasibility misses the significance of what Obama is up to. Just a few years ago, the ideas the President hinted at in last week's State of the Union and is now describing in more depth were considered fringe topics, basically the province of a few wonks and reform-minded policymakers. Talk of improving productivity in higher education bordered on blasphemy. Now the President of the United States is on board.
Obama wants to provide more data to parents and students about what colleges cost and how their students do after graduation. He also wants to change how federal aid works in order to create incentives for schools to keep costs down and keep interest on federal student loans low. Most noteworthy is his attempt to catalyze innovations at colleges and universities to improve productivity and encourage states to reform higher education through a grant competition similar to his Race to the Top program that has led many states to adopt K-12 reforms in order to win federal dollars. More specifics on the higher-ed competition will accompany the President's budget request in February.
"And I tell you this: you do not lead by hitting people over the head. Any damn fool can do that, but it's usually called 'assault' - not 'leadership'."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower, as told to Emmet John Hughes, for "Re-Viewing the Cold War: Domestic Factors and Foreign Policy in the East-West Confrontation"
Last year, someone said to me: "Laurie, I heard you're a nut job. So tell me, who are you, really?" I said: "You've heard me talk. What do you think?" The person chuckled and said: "I kind of like you. I think you care."
I do care. I have a fierce protective instinct toward the community, the country, and the children. I'm a patriot, but no politician. I'm not interested in making money or gaining political allies through District 81, the union or the media. I was trained as an old-style reporter, with an eye to supportable facts and a determination to know and report the truth. I'm not a natural extrovert, but five years of dealing with administrators and board directors have turned me into a fighter. I'm not a liar, and I'm no quitter, and I don't know how to do just the bare minimum of anything (except dusting).
My son says his teacher shouts a lot, especially at the naughty members of the class. Although this does not include him, he is quite sensitive and does not like this type of discipline. It is putting him off going to school. Can I broach this with the teacher, or should I just accept that this is her style of teaching?
Different teachers have different teaching styles. Some like to use a loud voice for effect or to make a particular impact. They may actually need to raise their voices on some occasions, depending on the classroom location and the environment. But if this style of interaction or discipline with the children is constant and consistent, it is usually not appropriate.
Sales manager Eric Wong Yiu-wai began to monitor the online activities of his younger son two years ago. The software he installed on his computer tracks the websites his son visits, instant messaging between him and his buddies, and the updates he posts on social networks. His phone will get instant alerts if his son uses offensive language in his posts or visits an unsavoury website. Wong says rising online perils make electronic surveillance of his 15-year-old son necessary.
"He spends a lot of time online every day. As I am working most of the time, I don't know what he is doing on the computer."
We're teachers who believe that teacher evaluation, including the use of reliable test data, can be good for students and for teachers. Yes, yes, we know we're not supposed to exist. But we do, and there are a lot more of us.
In February the membership of United Teachers Los Angeles will vote on a teacher-led initiative urging union leaders to negotiate a new teacher evaluation system for L.A. Unified. The vote will allow teachers' voices to be heard above the din of warring political figures.
Although LAUSD and UTLA reached a contract agreement in December that embraced important school reforms, they haven't yet addressed teacher evaluation. Good teaching is enormously complex, and no evaluation system will capture it perfectly. But a substantive teacher-led evaluation system will be far better for students and teachers than what we have now, a system in which virtually all teachers receive merely "satisfactory" ratings from administrators.
The Washington Post's Campus Overload blog recently featured a guest post, "Getting Rejected from Your Dream School(s) isn't a Bad Thing" by Eric Harris, a junior who attended the University of Maryland after being deferred by his first choice (Duke) and rejected by six of the other eight colleges to which he applied. (He was also accepted by Emory.) Eric's story is hardly unique, as numerous blogs and websites feature stories of students who were rejected by their first choice college. Most of the popular media accounts of students rejected by their first choice college are from students like Eric--those who applied to a large number of highly selective (and very expensive) colleges and universities and still attended a prestigious institution.
The kinds of students who are typically featured in the media are very likely to enjoy college and graduate in a timely manner, no matter where they end up attending. But the students who should be prominently featured instead are those whose first choice colleges are very different than their other options (much less selective four-year colleges, community colleges, or no college at all). Just-released data from the Cooperative Institutional Research Program at UCLA shows that only 58 percent of students attending four-year universities were attending their first choice college in fall 2011; nearly one-fourth of students were rejected by their first choice. This suggests that a fair number of students fall into this category, but little is known about their college outcomes.
These are interesting times to be a Stanford professor. Or to stop being a Stanford professor, as the case may be...Education is undergoing a revolution (curricular deliver, opportunities for students, high and low cost delivery). Will Madison be part of it? We certainly have the resources and infrastructure. Will intransigence reign?
Last week, news broke that Professor Sebastian Thrun would be stepping down from teaching at Stanford to launch an online learning company called Udacity. Udacity is an outgrowth of his incredibly popular Artificial Intelligence class offered through Stanford last fall.
Now it appears that two other Stanford professors Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng (Ng taught last term's massive Machine Learning class) have started their own company, Coursera, one that offers a very similar service as Thrun's.
According to the startup's jobs page, the two are "following up on the success of these courses to scale up online education efforts to provide a high quality education to the world. Out platform delivers complete courses where students are not only watching web-based lectures, but also actively participating, doing exercises, and deeply learning the material."
Newt Gingrich wants the U.S. to return to the moon, but as challenges go he has nothing on Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal's school reform plans.
Mr. Jindal wants to create America's largest school voucher program, broadest parental choice system, and toughest teacher accountability regime--all in one legislative session. Any one of those would be a big win, but all three could make the state the first to effectively dismantle a public education monopoly.
Louisiana is already one of 12 states (including Washington, D.C.) that offer school vouchers, but its program benefits fewer than 2,000 students in New Orleans. Governor Jindal would extend eligibility to any low-income student whose school gets a C, D or F grade from state administrators. That's almost 400,000 students--a bit more than half the statewide population--who could escape failing schools for private or virtual schools, career-based programs or institutions of higher education.
The very broad, capacious form of education that we call the liberal arts is rooted in a specific curriculum in classical and medieval times. But it would be wrong to assume that because it has such ancient roots, this kind of education is outdated, stale, fusty, or irrelevant. In fact, quite the contrary. A liberal-arts education, which Louis Menand defined in The Marketplace of Ideas as "a background mentality, a way of thinking, a kind of intellectual DNA that informs work in every specialized area of inquiry," lends itself particularly well to contemporary high-tech methods of imparting knowledge.
In 2011 Kaleem Caire, President and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Madison, reintroduced the topic of the Academic Achievement Gap that exists in theMadison Metropolitan School District (MMSD). As reported, just 48% of African American students and 56% of Latino students graduated on time from MMSD in 2010.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Just as staggering as these statistics is the fact that until the conversation was reintroduced, a large majority of our community was not aware that the academic achievement gap even existed. Why is that? Four more important questions may be: How did we get here?What have we proposed before? Why has this problem persisted? AND - What should we do now? To answer these questions, and many more, the Urban League of Greater Madison would like to invite you to participate in a community forum moderated by Derrell Connor.
6:00 Welcome Derrell Connor
6:45 Q&A from Audience Members
Is a writing a blog as valuable a writing experience as writing an academic term paper? Can the writing of a blog be made academically more rigorous in order to compete with the more traditional term paper? Or does the blog vs. term paper argument cloud a more critical academic problem... that our students do not read well enough to write in either format?
Matt Richtel, a reporter who writes about technology in education in the New York Times, recently published a piece, Blogs vs. Term Papers (1/20/12) regarding Duke University's English professor Cathy N. Davidson's embrace of the blog in place of the traditional term paper. He writes that, "Professor Davidson makes heavy use of the blog and the ethos it represents of public, interactive discourse. Instead of writing a quarterly term paper, students now regularly publish 500- to 1,500-word entries on an internal class blog about the issues and readings they are studying in class, along with essays for public consumption."
The traditional term paper in any number of disciplines of prescribed lengths of 5, 7, 10 or more pages has been centered for decades on a standard formula incorporating thesis, evidence, argument and conclusion. In the article, Davidson expresses her dislike for formula writing, including the five paragraph essay taught in middle and high schools and claims that, "This mechanistic writing is a real disincentive to creative but untrained writers." She notes that, "It's a formula, but good writing plays with formulas, and changes formulas."
Davidson is not alone. Ritchel claims that "across the country, blog writing has become a basic requirement in everything from M.B.A. to literature courses." This movement from term paper to blog has many academics up in arms.
Running parallel to this argument of academic writing was the position offered by William H. Fitzhugh, author and founder of The Concord Review, a journal that publishes high school students' research papers. In the NY Times article, Fitzhugh discussed how high school educators "shy away from rigorous academic writing, giving students the relative ease of writing short essays." Fitzhugh makes the argument that students are required to read less which directly impacts their ability to write well.
Fitzhugh wrote about academic writing in Meaningful Work for American Educator (Winter 2011-2012) taking the position that reading is at the core of good academic student writing; "To really teach students how to write, educators must give them examples of good writing found in nonfiction books and require students to read them, not skim them, cover to cover." Good writing reflects knowledge and understanding that comes from reading, not skimming. Fitzhugh recommends that, "Reading nonfiction contributes powerfully to the knowledge that students need in order to read more difficult material--the kind they will surely face in college. But more importantly, the work of writing a research paper will lead students to read more and become more knowledgeable in the process. As any good writer knows, the best writing emerges from a rich store of knowledge that the author is trying to pass on. Without that knowledge and the motivation to share it, all the literacy strategies in the world will not make much difference."
From my experiences in the classroom, I see the veracity of both Davidson and Fitzhugh's positions. I believe that the form of student writing is not the problem, and the blog vs. term paper debate, at least at the high school level where I teach, is not as controversial as at the college level. My job is to teach students to write well, and a great deal of my average school day is currently given to encouraging students to write in these multiple formats in order to prepare them for the real world. I know that students can be taught to write well in term papers, blogs, essays, letters or any other format. However, the students need to read well in order to write well about a topic. The conundrum is that unless today's high school students are provided time in class, they do not read the material.
A student's inability to read independently for homework results in a reduction in both the amount of reading assigned and the class time to process the reading. Students who do not read well at the high school level are unprepared for the rigors of college curriculum which requires much more independent reading in non-fiction. Ultimately, the problem for teachers in high school is not the form in which students write. The problem is getting students to both read and understand assigned readings that come from many disciplines-fiction and non-fiction. Only then can the blog vs. term paper debate be addressed as a measure of academic writing.
In a well-publicized paper that addressed why some students were not learning to read, Reid Lyon (2001) concluded that children from disadvantaged backgrounds where early childhood education was not available failed to read because they did not receive effective instruction in the early grades. Many of these children then required special education services to make up for this early failure in reading instruction, which were by and large instruction in phonics as the means of decoding. Some of these students had no specific learning disability other than lack of access to effective instruction. These findings are significant because a similar dynamic is at play in math education: the effective treatment for many students who would otherwise be labeled learning disabled is also the effective preventative measure.
In 2010 approximately 2.4 million students were identified with learning disabilities -- about three times as many as were identified in 1976-1977. (See http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d10/tables/xls/tabn045.xls and http://www.ideadata.org/arc_toc12.asp#partbEX). This increase raises the question of whether the shift in instructional emphasis over the past several decades has increased the number of low achieving children because of poor or ineffective instruction who would have swum with the rest of the pack when traditional math teaching prevailed. I believe that what is offered as treatment for math learning disabilities is what we could have done--and need to be doing--in the first place. While there has been a good amount of research and effort into early interventions in reading and decoding instruction, extremely little research of equivalent quality on the learning of mathematics exists. Given the education establishment's resistance to the idea that traditional math teaching methods are effective, this research is very much needed to draw such a definitive conclusion about the effect of instruction on the diagnosis of learning disabilities.1
The Milwaukee School Board is once again ignoring Superintendent Gregory Thornton's request to explore privatizing a portion of the school lunch program. And that's just another sign that the board is more concerned with saving union food service jobs than with saving money that could be better spent on educating kids.
The board and Thornton have been down this road before. In his latest proposal, Thornton asked the board to approve the establishment of a leased commissary. The board voted down the proposal, 5-4, in favor of a central kitchen run by district staff. They would not even consider the possibility of looking at other options to see if those would be more cost effective.
In a cash-strapped district, this makes absolutely no sense.
"I was just talking about privatizing a piece of it," a frustrated Thornton said. "I was not talking about how to transport the food or service the food."
The board appears to be against exploring any food service options that would eliminate union jobs. Currently, the food service workforce includes 48 temporary employees and more than 100 part-time employees. Administrators say they have had a hard time filling food service jobs.
IN recent years, a trend has emerged in the behavioral sciences toward shorter and more rapidly published journal articles. These articles are often only a third the length of a standard paper, often describe only a single study and tend to include smaller data sets. Shorter formats are promoted by many journals, and limits on article length are stringent -- in many cases as low as 2,000 words.
This shift is partly a result of the pressure that academics now feel to generate measurable output. According to the cold calculus of "publish or perish," in which success is often gauged by counting citations, three short articles can be preferable to a single longer one.
But some researchers contend that the trend toward short articles is also better for science. Such "bite size" science, they argue, encourages results to be communicated faster, written more concisely and read by editors and researchers more easily, leading to a more lively exchange of ideas.
Patrick A. Hope, a 39-year-old health-care attorney and member of the Virginia House of Delegates, recently observed his daughter learning to read at Barrett Elementary School in Arlington County.
It was just an hour, he said, but "I found it incredibly rewarding to watch my child in this environment, and it gave me ideas and techniques to continue advancement at home."
So when he saw my columns about school districts discouraging such observations, he decided to do something. He added this sentence to his House Bill No. 400 on education:
"Local school boards shall adopt and implement policies to ensure that the parent or legal guardian of a student or prospective student enrolled in the school division may, subject to reasonable notice and with minimized disruption, act as an observer in the child's classroom."
Like many people, I am appalled at how little writing American students are asked to do. But when we crotchety advocates complain about this to teachers, we have to shut up when they point to a seemingly insoluble problem.
If we required students to write a lot, teachers would have to do many extra hours reading and commenting on that work. They would have no lives and would have to quit. If we could cut English class sizes in half, the teachers might be able to handle the load, but that won't happen unless oil is discovered under the football field.
A 21st-century solution, proposed by former Gates Foundation education executive director Tom Vander Ark, is to let computers read and grade the bumper crop of essays. Assessment software, already used to grade essays on the GMAT business school entrance test and other standardized exams, doesn't need a life and doesn't cost as much as breathing, pencil-wielding English teachers.
The Florida Department of Education today released a numerical ranking of the state's 3,078 public and charter schools, grouped by elementary, middle, high and combination schools. This ranking coupled with the district rankings, makes it easier for parents and taxpayers to view information about Florida's education system.
During the past decade, New York City undertook a district-wide high school reform that is perhaps unprecedented in its scope, scale, and pace. Between fall 2002 and fall 2008, the school district closed 23 large failing high schools (with graduation rates below 45 percent), opened 216 new small high schools (with different missions, structures, and student selection criteria), and implemented a centralized high school admissions process that assigns over 90 percent of the roughly 80,000 incoming ninth-graders each year based on their school preferences.
At the heart of this reform are 123 small, academically nonselective, public high schools. Each with approximately 100 students per grade in grades 9 through 12, these schools were created to serve some of the district's most disadvantaged students and are located mainly in neighborhoods where large failing high schools had been closed. MDRC researchers call them "small schools of choice" (SSCs) because of their small size and the fact that they do not screen students based on their academic backgrounds.
THREE million children in this country take drugs for problems in focusing. Toward the end of last year, many of their parents were deeply alarmed because there was a shortage of drugs like Ritalin and Adderall that they considered absolutely essential to their children's functioning.
But are these drugs really helping children? Should we really keep expanding the number of prescriptions filled?
In 30 years there has been a twentyfold increase in the consumption of drugs for attention-deficit disorder.
As a psychologist who has been studying the development of troubled children for more than 40 years, I believe we should be asking why we rely so heavily on these drugs.