When Parker Sheffy, a first-year teacher in the Bronx Leadership Academy II, a high school in the South Bronx, talks shop with friends who are also new teachers, he often hears about the problems they are facing: students not showing up to class on time, not understanding their work, not doing homework. "I'm thinking: I don't have that problem... I don't have that problem..." Sheffy recalled. In his ninth grade integrated algebra class, he estimates that 80 to 90 percent are on track to pass the Regents exam, more than double last year's figure.
"But I have to remind myself that this is not just because of me," Sheffy said. "I'm one of six people who have created this class."
Sheffy's school is one of three New York City public schools working with an organization called Blue Engine, which recruits and places recent college graduates as full-time teaching assistants in high schools, helps teachers shift to a small-group classroom model with a ratio of one instructor for roughly every six students, uses data tracking to generate rapid-fire feedback so problems can be quickly addressed, and provides weekly instruction in "social cognition" classes, where students are introduced to skills and concepts -- such as the difference between a "fixed" and a "growth" mind-set -- that can help them grasp their untapped potential.
Blue Engine also targets algebra, geometry and English language arts in the ninth and 10th grades because performance in these so-called "gateway" courses is associated with college success.
Despite its modest size and short track record, Blue Engine has already seized the attention of educators and attracted notice from President Obama. Last year, in its schools, as a result of the program, the number of students who met the "college ready" standard -- scoring above 80 on their Regents exams in algebra, geometry or English language arts -- nearly tripled, from 49 to 140.
Katherine Callaghan, the principal of the Bronx Leadership Academy II, who has worked in the school for more than 10 years, said: "Blue Engine has moved a huge number of our students in a way that nothing else that we've ever tried has been able to do." She added: "Last year we had a 44 percent pass rate on the integrated algebra Regents, with two kids scoring above an 80. This year, we're on track for 75 or 80 percent passing, with 20 kids hitting the college-ready mark. We're close to doubling our pass rate and multiplying by a factor of 10 our college-ready rate."
Gains like this are not often seen in education. So it's worth taking note. What's happening?
News of Kiera Wilmot's arrest has seriously unnerved me. She is the Florida high school student who was experimenting with common household chemicals in science class that resulted in a minor explosion. There were no injuries and no damage to school property; however, she was taken away in handcuffs, formally arrested and expulled from school.
I acknowledge that too little information has been provided on the case. We have NO idea what was happening in the class. Where was the teacher? Were students involved in a laboratory activity at the time? I have spent time in the high school classroom. I know the shenanigans (and havoc) these pre-adults can cause. It is no laughing matter. Even if this were a prank, say something akin to my generation's idea of setting off smoke bombs in the hall during the passing of classes, my gut reaction stands.
I don't like what our public education (and justice) systems do to urban youth (e.g. the discipline gap with Black kids). I worry about urban kids who don't (tend) to have access to social capital that advocates for them and gives them a chance after stupid mistakes. I worry what this will mean to her family financially. What will it mean for her future? Will graduating from an alternative school prevent her from attending college? Will she be marked as a trouble maker? Will she have a criminal record that prevents her from gainful employment and a meaningful life? More immediately, will she get locked away for 20 years? Shit like that happens to kids who look like her.
Higher bar for WKCE results paints different picture of student achievementSuperintendent Cheatham is to be commended for her informed, intelligent and honest reaction to the MMSD's results when compared to those of neighboring districts.
Wisconsin student test scores released Tuesday look very different than they did a year ago, though not because of any major shift in student performance.
Similar to recent years, the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam results show gains in math and reading over the past five years, a persistent and growing performance gap between black and white students, and Milwaukee and Racine public school students outperforming their peers in the private school voucher program.
But the biggest difference is the scores reflect a higher bar for what students in each grade level should know and be able to do.
Only 36.2 percent of students who took the reading test last October met the new proficiency bar. Fewer than half, 48.1 percent, of students were proficient in math. When 2011-12 results were released last spring, those figures were both closer to 80 percent.
The change doesn't reflect a precipitous drop in student test scores. The average scores in reading and math are about the same as last year for each grade level.
Instead, the change reflects a more rigorous standard for proficiency similar to what is used for the National Assessment of Educational Progress. NAEP is administered to a sample of students in each state every other year and is referred to as "the nation's report card."
The state agreed to raise the proficiency benchmark in math and reading last year in order to qualify for a waiver from requirements under the federal No Child Left Behind law. The benchmark did not rise for the language arts, science and social studies tests.
"Adjusting to higher expectations will take time and effort," State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers said. "But these are necessary changes that will ultimately help our schools better prepare all students to be college and career ready and link with work being done throughout the state to implement new standards."
Evers also called on the Legislature to include private voucher schools in the state's new accountability system.
He highlighted that test scores for all Milwaukee and Racine students need to improve. Among Milwaukee voucher students, 10.8 percent in reading and 11.9 percent in math scored proficient or better. Among Milwaukee public school students, it was 14.2 percent in reading and 19.7 percent in math.
Gov. Scott Walker has proposed expanding the state's voucher program, including to such districts as Madison.
Changes in Dane County
The state previously announced how the changing bar would affect scores statewide and parents have seen their own students' results in recent weeks, but the new figures for the first time show the impact on entire schools and districts.
In Dane County school districts, the percentage of students scoring proficient or better on the test dropped on average by 42 percentage points in reading and 25 percentage points in math.
Madison schools had one of the smallest drops compared to its neighboring districts.
Madison superintendent Jennifer Cheatham noted schools with a higher number of students scoring in the "advanced" category experienced less of a drop. Madison's smaller drop could reflect a higher proportion of students scoring in the top tier.
At the same time, Madison didn't narrow the gap between minority and white student test results. Only 9 percent of black sixth-graders and only 2 percent of sixth-grade English language learners scored proficient in reading.
"It reinforces the importance of our work in the years ahead," Cheatham said. "We're going to work on accelerating student outcomes."
Middleton-Cross Plains School Board president Ellen Lindgren said she hasn't heard many complaints from parents whose students suddenly dropped a tier on the test. Like Madison and other districts across the state, Middleton-Cross Plains sent home letters bracing parents for the change.
But Lindgren fears the changing standards come at the worst time for public schools, which have faced tougher scrutiny and reduced state support.
"I'm glad that the standards have been raised by the state, because they were low, but this interim year, hopefully people won't panic too much," Lindgren said. "The public has been sold on the idea that we're failing in our education system, and I just don't believe that's true."
Next fall will be the last year students in grades 3-8 and 10 take the paper-and-pencil WKCE math and reading tests. Wisconsin is part of a coalition of states planning to administer a new computer-based test in the 2014-15 school year.
The proposed state budget also provides for students in grades 9-11 to take the EXPLORE, PLAN and ACT college and career readiness tests in future years.
View a WKCE summary here (PDF).
ALONG his block in Newark's West Ward, where drugs are endemic and the young residents talk about shootings with alarming nonchalance, Najee Little is known as the smart kid. He got all A's his sophomore year, breezing through math and awing his English teachers. His mother, a day care worker, and father, who does odd jobs to make ends meet, have high aspirations for him. They want him to earn a college degree.
So last year, when Bard College opened an early college high school in Newark for disadvantaged students with dreams of a bachelor's degree, he was sure he'd do well there. He wrote his first long paper on Plato's "Republic," expecting a top grade. He got a D minus. "Honestly," he recalled, "I was kind of discouraged."
That paper marked the beginning of a trying academic path that would both excite and disillusion him. The past two years have been peppered with some promising grades -- an A in environmental science -- and some doozies. He failed "Africa in World History" and squeaked by in calculus. Mostly, he came to realize that getting into college and staying there would be a herculean task. There was tricky grammar, hard math and tons of homework. There was the neighborhood cacophony to tune out and the call of his Xbox. And there was the fact that no one in his house could help him.
"My work is more advanced than anyone at home has experienced," he said. And that, it turns out, is why the school had accepted him.
High poverty, high ability, high expectations, high achievement.
Educators and researchers have long recognized the importance of mastering reading by the end of third grade. Students who fail to reach this critical milestone often falter in the later grades and drop out before earning a high school diploma. Now, researchers have confirmed this link in the first national study to calculate high school graduation rates for children at different reading skill levels and with different poverty rates. Results of a longitudinal study of nearly 4,000 students find that those who don't read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to leave school without a diploma than proficient readers. For the worst readers, those who couldn't master even the basic skills by third grade, the rate is nearly six times greater. While these struggling readers account for about a third of the students, they represent more than three fifths of those who eventually drop out or fail to graduate on time. What's more, the study shows that poverty has a powerful influence on graduation rates. The combined effect of reading poorly and living in poverty puts these children in double jeopardy.
The study relies on a unique national database of 3,975 students born between 1979 and 1989. The children's parents were surveyed every two years to determine the family's eco- nomic status and other factors, while the children's reading progress was tracked using the Peabody Individual Achievement Test (PIAT) Reading Recognition subtest. The database re- ports whether students have finished high school by age 19, but does not indicate whether they actually dropped out.
For purposes of this study, the researchers divided the children into three reading groups which correspond roughly to the skill levels used in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP): proficient, basic and below basic. The children were also separated into three income categories: those who have never been poor, those who spent some time in poverty and those who have lived more than half the years surveyed in poverty.
The findings include:
-- One in six children who are not reading proficiently in third grade do not graduate from high school on time, a rate four times greater than that for proficient readers.
-- The rates are highest for the low, below-basic readers: 23 percent of these children drop out or fail to finish high school on time, compared to 9 percent of children with basic reading skills and 4 percent of proficient readers.
-- Overall, 22 percent of children who have lived in poverty do not graduate from high school, compared to 6 percent of those who have never been poor. This rises to 32 percent for students spending more than half of their childhood in poverty.
-- For children who were poor for at least a year and were not reading proficiently in third grade, the proportion that don't finish school rose to 26 percent. That's more than six times the rate for all proficient readers.
-- The rate was highest for poor Black and Hispanic students, at 31 and 33 percent respectively--or about eight times the rate for all proficient readers.
-- Even among poor children who were proficient readers in third grade, 11 percent still didn't finish high school. That compares to 9 percent of subpar third grade readers who have never been poor.
-- Among children who never lived in poverty, all but 2 percent of the best third- grade readers graduated from high school on time.
-- Graduation rates for Black and Hispanic students who were not proficient readers in third grade lagged far behind those for White students with the same reading skills.
It seems like an odd jump from the flexible anti-structure that gives Brown its laid-back reputation to a school where kindergartners are called "scholars" and get demerits for slumping. But for the six Brown alums who work as tutors at Match Corps: Boston, it's not a question of autonomy -- it's a question of equality.
Match Corps is a one-year fellowship program that brings top college graduates to tutor disadvantaged youth in the Boston area. At Match charter schools, tutors work with small groups, often one-on-one, and form close relationships with students and their families, according to the program's website.
"Match's mission is to help all students succeed in college and beyond by giving them the best education they can get," said Match Corps COO Michael Larsson.
The program directs its efforts toward helping kids in city schools in an effort to overcome the stereotype that students in urban areas are unable to achieve their full potentials. If students in urban public schools are less equipped for success, it is because they are "historically extremely underserved in the education system," said Reuben Henriques '12, a current member of Match Corps.
Henriques said he is a firm believer that providing all students with "equal access to structures of power" through skills like reading and critical thinking is crucial not only for the individuals but also for society as a whole.
"A democracy needs people who can advocate for themselves and function in a healthy debate -- not just rich, white students, but everyone," he said.
More about the Match Public Charter School, the Match Corps, and the Match Teacher Residency Program here.
Earlier this week, I spotted, among the job listings in the newspaper Reforma, an ad from a restaurant in Mexico City looking to hire dishwashers. The requirement: a secondary school diploma.
Years ago, school was not for everyone. Classrooms were places for discipline, study. Teachers were respected figures. Parents actually gave them permission to punish their children by slapping them or tugging their ears. But at least in those days, schools aimed to offer a more dignified life.
Nowadays more children attend school than ever before, but they learn much less. They learn almost nothing. The proportion of the Mexican population that is literate is going up, but in absolute numbers, there are more illiterate people in Mexico now than there were 12 years ago. Even if baseline literacy, the ability to read a street sign or news bulletin, is rising, the practice of reading an actual book is not. Once a reasonably well-educated country, Mexico took the penultimate spot, out of 108 countries, in a Unesco assessment of reading habits a few years ago.
One cannot help but ask the Mexican educational system, "How is it possible that I hand over a child for six hours every day, five days a week, and you give me back someone who is basically illiterate?"
This is not just about better funding. Mexico spends more than 5 percent of its gross domestic product on education -- about the same percentage as the United States. And it's not about pedagogical theories and new techniques that look for shortcuts. The educational machine does not need fine-tuning; it needs a complete change of direction. It needs to make students read, read and read.
But perhaps the Mexican government is not ready for its people to be truly educated. We know that books give people ambitions, expectations, a sense of dignity. If tomorrow we were to wake up as educated as the Finnish people, the streets would be filled with indignant citizens and our frightened government would be asking itself where these people got more than a dishwasher's training.
THIS is America's college town par excellence. Kids from all over the world flock to Boston to learn. I have a son who is a freshman here. Last autumn, as he entered school, I listened to warnings about the dangers of binge drinking. I think they missed the point. The real epidemic involves so-called smart drugs, particularly Adderall, an amphetamine prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (A.D.H.D.) but so freely available as to be the pill to take whenever academic pressure requires pulling an all-nighter with zero procrastination to get a paper done.
"Just popped an Addie, so I'm good to go" -- this sort of pretest attitude has become pervasive. Conversations with several students suggested Adderall was always available, costing from $2 to $5 a pill. Adderall has become to college what steroids are to baseball: an illicit performance enhancer for a fiercely competitive environment. What to say to doctors to get a prescription is now so widely known among students -- "It's like my thoughts are channel-surfing and I can't stop" -- as to have become a kind of joke.
"If there are no A.D.H.D. symptoms prior to college I have a very hard time writing a prescription," Jill Kasper, a pediatrician, told me. "But if somebody wants a prescription for Adderall, they can find someone to give it to them." The problem is that Adderall is dangerous, a Class 2 controlled substance like cocaine. While it has helped countless A.D.H.D. sufferers, it can also lead down a dark road of dependency, ever higher doses, fight-or-flight anxiety levels, sleeplessness and depression.
Here, in his own words, is the Adderall story of Steven Roderick, 24, a smart, soft-spoken, lost senior studying health science at the University of Massachusetts Boston:
I started taking it my first year in college. My performance had always fluctuated a lot. It was hard to pay attention, even in classes I was interested in. I was getting D's. I felt something had to change. Adderall flies around campus. The first time I took it I wrote a paper for an astronomy class that was out of this world. I could not believe it -- I was so inspired it made me want to be a doctor! I thought -- oh my God! -- this is the whole problem. You have the ability. You are intelligent. You just don't have the link between intelligence and the capacity to be productive. The pill is the link. I felt literally unstoppable.
I went to the doctor, said I'd like to give Adderall a try. There were no diagnostic procedures. Doctors give in too easily. I did not think there could be a risk later on. I started on 20 milligrams. I went from D's and F's to straight A's. But your brain adapts, you have to increase the dose, and by 2011 I was up to 45 milligrams. In the spring of that year I started to feel Adderall was my best friend and my worst enemy at the same time. Because I could not sleep I went to see my psychopharm, and she prescribed me Ativan to sleep. That worked O.K. for a while. But I really ran into trouble last year. I was up to 65 milligrams, and then during finals went to 80, even 120, milligrams, and I was just locked into this Adderall-Ativan cycle. My doctor seemed scatterbrained. She'd prescribe something but not follow up.
It's a complicated dependency. I mean I never took Adderall to get high, never took it in a way that was not academically oriented; and I think there's a distinction between dependency and addiction, taking something for a purpose or for a rush. But I feel awful. My baseline anxiety level would be most people's highest anxiety level. The drop of a pin makes me spin around. I am living at home. My parents are clueless, and it is hard to discuss with them, although my Mom helps me now. I alternate between 'on' and 'off' states -- I come off the Adderall, take Ativan and sleep for days. I miss appointments. I know I need to go to the appointments, but I wonder if I will be functional enough.
Adderall suddenly turned its back on me. It enabled me to focus, got me to a higher place academically. But then I could no longer rely on it. I was on my own. And although I have less than three credits to go, I may have to withdraw from school because I have not been able to make it to enough classes. "Look, I am in a culture that constantly justifies the means to an end. So how do we persuade people not to take it? All you hear is how impossible it will be to get a job when you get out, and you are going more and more into debt, and you think without this I won't be top of the class. With other drugs you know you are ruining your life. But Adderall manipulates you into thinking you are doing what is needed to have a great life.
WHAT would it really take to give students a first-rate education? Some argue that our schools are irremediably broken and that charter schools offer the only solution. The striking achievement of Union City, N.J. -- bringing poor, mostly immigrant kids into the educational mainstream -- argues for reinventing the public schools we have. Union City makes an unlikely poster child for education reform. It's a poor community with an unemployment rate 60 percent higher than the national average. Three-quarters of the students live in homes where only Spanish is spoken. A quarter are thought to be undocumented, living in fear of deportation.
Public schools in such communities have often operated as factories for failure. This used to be true in Union City, where the schools were once so wretched that state officials almost seized control of them. How things have changed. From third grade through high school, students' achievement scores now approximate the statewide average. What's more, in 2011, Union City boasted a high school graduation rate of 89.5 percent -- roughly 10 percentage points higher than the national average. Last year, 75 percent of Union City graduates enrolled in college, with top students winning scholarships to the Ivies.
As someone who has worked on education policy for four decades, I've never seen the likes of this. After spending a year in Union City working on a book, I believe its transformation offers a nationwide strategy. Ask school officials to explain Union City's success and they start with prekindergarten, which enrolls almost every 3- and 4-year-old. There's abundant research showing the lifetime benefits of early education. Here, seeing is believing.
One December morning the lesson is making latkes, the potato pancakes that are a Hanukkah staple. Everything that transpires during these 90 minutes could be called a "teachable moment" -- describing the smell of an onion ("Strong or light? Strong -- duro. Will it smell differently when we cook it? We'll have to find out."); pronouncing the "p" in pepper and pimento; getting the hang of a food processor ("When I put all the ingredients in, what will happen?").
Cognitive and noncognitive, thinking and feeling; here, this line vanishes. The good teacher is always on the lookout for both kinds of lessons, always aiming to reach both head and heart. "My goal is to do for these kids what I do with my own children," the teacher, Susana Rojas, tells me. "It's all about exposure to concepts -- wide, narrow, long, short. I bring in breads from different countries. 'Let's do a pie chart showing which one you liked the best.' I don't ask them to memorize 1, 2, 3 -- I could teach a monkey to count." From pre-K to high school, the make-or-break factor is what the Harvard education professor Richard Elmore calls the "instructional core" -- the skills of the teacher, the engagement of the students and the rigor of the curriculum. To succeed, students must become thinkers, not just test-takers.
When Alina Bossbaly greets her third grade students, ethics are on her mind. "Room 210 is a pie -- un pie -- and each of us is a slice of that pie." The pie offers a down-to-earth way of talking about a community where everyone has a place. Building character and getting students to think is her mission. From Day 1, her kids are writing in their journals, sifting out the meaning of stories and solving math problems. Every day, Ms. Bossbaly is figuring out what's best for each child, rather than batch-processing them. Though Ms. Bossbaly is a star, her philosophy pervades the district. Wherever I went, these schools felt less like impersonal institutions than the simulacrum of an extended family.
UNTIL recently, Union City High bore the scarlet-letter label, "school in need of improvement." It has taken strong leadership from its principal, John Bennetti, to turn things around -- to instill the belief that education can be a ticket out of poverty. On Day 1, the principal lays out the house rules. Everything is tied to a single theme -- pride and respect in "our house" -- that resonates with the community culture of family, unity and respect. "Cursing doesn't showcase our talents. Breaking the dress code means we're setting a tone that unity isn't important, coming in late means missing opportunities to learn." Bullying is high on his list of nonnegotiables: "We are about caring and supporting."
These students sometimes behave like college freshmen, as in a seminar where they're parsing Toni Morrison's "Beloved." They can be boisterously jokey with their teachers. But there's none of the note-swapping, gum-chewing, wisecracking, talking-back rudeness you'd anticipate if your opinions about high school had been shaped by movies like "Dangerous Minds." And the principal is persuading teachers to raise their expectations. "There should be more courses that prepare students for college, not simply more work but higher-quality work," he tells me. This approach is paying off big time: Last year, in a study of 22,000 American high schools, U.S. News & World Report and the American Institutes for Research ranked Union City High in the top 22 percent.
What makes Union City remarkable is, paradoxically, the absence of pizazz. It hasn't followed the herd by closing "underperforming" schools or giving the boot to hordes of teachers. No Teach for America recruits toil in its classrooms, and there are no charter schools. A quarter-century ago, fear of a state takeover catalyzed a transformation. The district's best educators were asked to design a curriculum based on evidence, not hunch. Learning by doing replaced learning by rote. Kids who came to school speaking only Spanish became truly bilingual, taught how to read and write in their native tongue before tackling English. Parents were enlisted in the cause. Teachers were urged to work together, the superstars mentoring the stragglers and coaches recruited to add expertise. Principals were expected to become educational leaders, not just disciplinarians and paper-shufflers. From a loose confederacy, the schools gradually morphed into a coherent system that marries high expectations with a "we can do it" attitude. "The real story of Union City is that it didn't fall back," says Fred Carrigg, a key architect of the reform. "It stabilized and has continued to improve."
To any educator with a pulse, this game plan sounds so old-school obvious that it verges on platitude. That these schools are generously financed clearly makes a difference -- not every community will decide to pay for two years of prekindergarten -- but too many districts squander their resources. School officials flock to Union City and other districts that have beaten the odds, eager for a quick fix. But they're on a fool's errand. These places -- and there are a host of them, largely unsung -- didn't become exemplars by behaving like magpies, taking shiny bits and pieces and gluing them together. Instead, each devised a long-term strategy reaching from preschool to high school. Each keeps learning from experience and tinkering with its model. Nationwide, there's no reason school districts -- big or small; predominantly white, Latino or black -- cannot construct a system that, like the schools of Union City, bends the arc of children's lives.
The Daily Beast
Recently, the Huffington Post published an article titled "I am Adam Lanza's mother" by a woman named Liza Long. The article presents a picture of a 13-year-old boy who threatened his mother, sometimes going so far as to pull a knife on her, scream obscenities at her, and leap out of cars as they're driving down the highway.
The rest of the world has reacted to the idea of such a child with horror and incomprehension. I sympathize with the horror. I can only wish that I shared the incomprehension. I understand, intimately, how Liza Long's son feels. I was like him.
Like the author of that piece, Liza Long, my mother had no idea what to do about my sudden transformation (in my case, around 16) into a borderline homicidal maniac. Like her son, I used knives to try and make my threats of violence seem more real. Like her son, I would leap out of our car in the middle of the road just to get away from my mother, over the most trivial of offenses. Like her son, I screamed obscenities at my mother shortly after moments of relative peace. And worse than this poor woman's son, whose mindset toward his peers we can only guess, I will admit that I fantasized multiple times about taking ordnance to my classmates.
By the logic which leads Liza Long to say, "I am Adam Lanza's mother," I have to say: "I was Adam Lanza."
This is a very honest, generous, and thought-provoking piece ... and one from an important source.
At the 2012 meeting, physics was on the agenda again. The hottest topic was particle physics because mid-way through the meeting, scientists at CERN announced the discovery of the Higgs particle. The following morning, we filmed George Smoot and Martinus Veltman as they digested the news with three young researchers. Veltman, who helped to shape the standard model of particle physics, was surprising cynical about the discovery. See his reaction in film 3: Is dark matter real? The other films deal with the relationship between theory and experiment, the state of science education, the looming energy crisis and in film 1 we ask: is this the golden age of astronomy? As you'll see, the Nobel laureates and young physicists in our films have quite different views on these matters.
Anyone who has spent much time in classrooms has the sense that just a couple of disorderly kids can really disrupt learning for everyone. These kids distract the other students, and the teacher must allocate a disproportionate amount of attention to them to keep them on task.
Obvious though this point seems, there have been surprisingly few studies of just how high a cost disruptive kids exact on the learning of others.
Lori Skibbe and her colleagues have just published an interesting study on the subject.
Skibbe measured self-regulation in 445 1st graders, using the standard head-toes-knees-shoulders (HTKS) task. In this task, children must first follow the instructors direction ("Touch your toes. Now touch your shoulders.") In a second phase, they were instructed to do the opposite of what the instructor said--when told to touch their toes, they were to touch their head, for example. This is a well-known measure of self regulation in children this age (e.g., Ponitz et al., 2008).
Researchers also evaluated the growth over the first grade year in children's literacy skills, using two subtests from the Woodcock-Johnson: Passage Comprehension and Picture Vocabulary.
We would guess that children's growth in literacy would be related to their self-regulation skill (as measured by their HTKS score). What Skibbe et al showed is that the class average HTKS score also predicts how much an individual child will learn, even after you statistically account for that child's HTKS score. (Researchers also accounted for the school-wide percentage of kids qualifying for free or reduced lunch, as academic growth might covary with self-regulation as due to SES differences.)
Chester E. Finn, Jr.
BARACK OBAMA and Mitt Romney both attended elite private high schools. Both are undeniably smart and well educated and owe much of their success to the strong foundation laid by excellent schools.
Every motivated, high-potential young American deserves a similar opportunity. But the majority of very smart kids lack the wherewithal to enroll in rigorous private schools. They depend on public education to prepare them for life. Yet that system is failing to create enough opportunities for hundreds of thousands of these high-potential girls and boys.
Mostly, the system ignores them, with policies and budget priorities that concentrate on raising the floor under low-achieving students. A good and necessary thing to do, yes, but we've failed to raise the ceiling for those already well above the floor.
Public education's neglect of high-ability students doesn't just deny individuals opportunities they deserve. It also imperils the country's future supply of scientists, inventors and entrepreneurs.
Today's systemic failure takes three forms.
First, we're weak at identifying "gifted and talented" children early, particularly if they're poor or members of minority groups or don't have savvy, pushy parents.
Second, at the primary and middle-school levels, we don't have enough gifted-education classrooms (with suitable teachers and curriculums) to serve even the existing demand. Congress has "zero-funded" the Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Program, Washington's sole effort to encourage such education. Faced with budget crunches and federal pressure to turn around awful schools, many districts are cutting their advanced classes as well as art and music.
Third, many high schools have just a smattering of honors or Advanced Placement classes, sometimes populated by kids who are bright but not truly prepared to succeed in them.
Here and there, however, entire public schools focus exclusively on high-ability, highly motivated students. Some are nationally famous (Boston Latin, Bronx Science), others known mainly in their own communities (Cincinnati's Walnut Hills, Austin's Liberal Arts and Science Academy). When my colleague Jessica A. Hockett and I went searching for schools like these to study, we discovered that no one had ever fully mapped this terrain.
In a country with more than 20,000 public high schools, we found just 165 of these schools, known as exam schools. They educate about 1 percent of students. Nineteen states have none. Only three big cities have more than five such schools (Los Angeles has zero). Almost all have far more qualified applicants than they can accommodate. Hence they practice very selective admission, turning away thousands of students who could benefit from what they have to offer. Northern Virginia's acclaimed Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, for example, gets some 3,300 applicants a year -- two-thirds of them academically qualified -- for 480 places.
We built a list, surveyed the principals and visited 11 schools. We learned a lot. While the schools differ in many ways, their course offerings resemble A.P. classes in content and rigor; they have stellar college placement; and the best of them expose their pupils to independent study, challenging internships and individual research projects.
Critics call them elitist, but we found the opposite. These are great schools accessible to families who can't afford private schooling or expensive suburbs. While exam schools in some cities don't come close to reflecting the demographics around them, across the country the low-income enrollment in these schools parallels the high school population as a whole. African-American youngsters are "overrepresented" in them and Asian-Americans staggeringly so (21 percent versus 5 percent in high schools overall). Latinos are underrepresented, but so are whites.
That's not so surprising. Prosperous, educated parents can access multiple options for their able daughters and sons. Elite private schools are still out there. So are New Trier, Scarsdale and Beverly Hills. The schools we studied, by and large, are educational oases for families with smart kids but few alternatives.
They're safe havens, too -- schools where everyone focuses on teaching and learning, not maintaining order. They have sports teams, but their orchestras are better. Yes, some have had to crack down on cheating, but in these schools it's O.K. to be a nerd. You're surrounded by kids like you -- some smarter than you -- and taught by capable teachers who welcome the challenge, teachers more apt to have Ph.D.'s or experience at the college level than high school instructors elsewhere. You aren't searched for weapons at the door. And you're pretty sure to graduate and go on to a good college.
Many more students could benefit from schools like these -- and the numbers would multiply if our education system did right by such students in the early grades. But that will happen only when we acknowledge that leaving no child behind means paying as much attention to those who've mastered the basics -- and have the capacity and motivation for much more -- as we do to those who cannot yet read or subtract.
It's time to end the bias against gifted and talented education and quit assuming that every school must be all things to all students, a simplistic formula that ends up neglecting all sorts of girls and boys, many of them poor and minority, who would benefit more from specialized public schools. America should have a thousand or more high schools for able students, not 165, and elementary and middle schools that spot and prepare their future pupils.
With their support for school choice, Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama have both edged toward recognizing that kids aren't all the same and schools shouldn't be, either. Yet fear of seeming elitist will most likely keep them from proposing more exam schools. Which is ironic and sad, considering where they went to school. Smart kids shouldn't have to go to private schools or get turned away from Bronx Science or Thomas Jefferson simply because there's no room for them.
Chester E. Finn Jr., the president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, is the author, with Jessica A. Hockett, of "Exam Schools: Inside America's Most Selective Public High Schools."
Many students in American classrooms don't feel challenged enough. That's according to new analysis of federal data (pdf) conducted by the Washington think tank American Progress.
The organization, which promotes "progressive ideas and action," came to that conclusion when it analyzed surveys given to students by the Department of Education for its National Assessment of Educational Progress.
In its press release, American progress says its analysis found that the popular images of students overburdened with work and keeping "the hours of a corporate lawyer in order to finish their school projects and homework assignments" are quite simply off base.
"Many students are not being challenged in school," the organization says. USA Today dug through the report and finds:
-- "37% of fourth-graders say their math work is 'often' or 'always' too easy;
-- "57% of eighth-graders say their history work is 'often' or 'always' too easy;
-- "39% of 12th-graders say they rarely write about what they read in class."
USA Today spoke Florida State University English education professor Shelbie Witte who said students are likely bored by an education system that puts too much emphasis on standardized testing and "when they're bored, they think the classes are easy."
Another interesting find from the report is that lower-income students reported that they comprehended their teachers less than their more affluent classmates.
American Progress points out that student surveys have been shown to be accurate predictors of a teacher's performance. It's the reason they decided to look at this set of data.
School reform superintendent Paul Vallas spoke at LaFollette High School at the behest of Boys and Girls Club of Dane County CEO Michael Johnson. The two and a half hour presentation with question and answer periods as attended by about 100 people in the LaFollette Auditorium.
Paul Vallas has been the Superintendent of schools in Chicago (CPS), Philadelphia, New Orleans, and currently Bridgeport Connecticut. He is currently hired to improve the schools in both Chile and Haiti, and has been praised in two State of the Union addresses. His work as a superintendent has engendered both strong support and strong disagreement.
The two and a half hour meeting has been divided into five clips and I have tried to summarize comments made by Paul Vallas, the panel and the audience members who spoke.
The percentage of low-income students in Wisconsin and Madison schools continues to grow.
Madison's percentage of students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch reached 56.5 percent this year, up from 51 percent last year, according to the state Department of Public Instruction. That's up from 44 percent five years ago and 31 percent a decade ago. Wisconsin's rate reached 42.5 percent, up from 41.5 percent last year and 29.5 percent in the 2003-04 school year. More than 100 of the state's 424 school districts have a majority of students who qualify as low-income.
Children from households with annual incomes at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty rate, or $29,055 for a family of four, qualify for a free lunch. Children from households with annual incomes under 185 percent of the federal poverty rate, or between $29,055 and $41,348 for a family of four, qualify for a reduced-price lunch.
Wisconsin State Journal
March 20, 2012
The Cupcake Wars came to Public School 295 in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, in October. The Parent-Teacher Association's decision to raise the price of a cupcake at its monthly bake sale -- to $1, from 50 cents -- was supposed to be a simple way to raise extra money in the face of city budget cuts. Instead, in a neighborhood whose median household income leaped to $60,184 in 2010 from $34,878 a decade before, the change generated unexpected ire, pitting cash-short parents against volunteer bakers, and dividing a flummoxed PTA executive board, where wealthier newcomers to the school serve alongside poorer immigrants who have called the area home for years.
"A lot of people felt like they really needed to be heard on this," recalled Dan Janzen, a mild-mannered freelance copywriter with children in first and third grades who leads the school's development committee and devised the price increase. One mother expressed dismay at being blindsided, while others said they were worried about those at the school without a dollar to spare. Ultimately, the PTA meeting at which the issue came to a head was adjourned without a resolution.
Such fracases are increasingly common at schools like P.S. 295, where changing demographics can cause culture clashes. PTA leaders are often caught between trying to get as much as possible from parents of means without alienating lower-income families. Sometimes, the battles are over who should lead the PTA itself: many of the gentrifiers bring professional skills and different ideas of how to get things done, while those who improved the school enough to attract them become guardians of its traditions.
So along with cross-cultural exchanges, international festivals and smorgasbords, school diversity can mean raw feelings about race and class bubbling to the surface. "It's never just about the cupcake," said Jeffrey Henig, a professor of political science and education at Teachers College, who has written extensively about this topic. "The cupcake is the spark."
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Attention-deficit drugs increase concentration in the short term, which is why they work so well for college students cramming for exams. But when given to children over long periods of time, they neither improve school achievement nor reduce behavior problems. The drugs can also have serious side effects, including stunting growth.
Sadly, few physicians and parents seem to be aware of what we have been learning about the lack of effectiveness of these drugs.
What gets publicized are short-term results and studies on brain differences among children. Indeed, there are a number of incontrovertible facts that seem at first glance to support medication. It is because of this partial foundation in reality that the problem with the current approach to treating children has been so difficult to see.
Back in the 1960s I, like most psychologists, believed that children with difficulty concentrating were suffering from a brain problem of genetic or otherwise inborn origin. Just as Type I diabetics need insulin to correct problems with their inborn biochemistry, these children were believed to require attention-deficit drugs to correct theirs. It turns out, however, that there is little to no evidence to support this theory.
In 1973, I reviewed the literature on drug treatment of children for The New England Journal of Medicine. Dozens of well-controlled studies showed that these drugs immediately improved children's performance on repetitive tasks requiring concentration and diligence. I had conducted one of these studies myself. Teachers and parents also reported improved behavior in almost every short-term study. This spurred an increase in drug treatment and led many to conclude that the "brain deficit" hypothesis had been confirmed.
But questions continued to be raised, especially concerning the drugs' mechanism of action and the durability of effects. Ritalin and Adderall, a combination of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine, are stimulants. So why do they appear to calm children down? Some experts argued that because the brains of children with attention problems were different, the drugs had a mysterious paradoxical effect on them.
However, there really was no paradox. Versions of these drugs had been given to World War II radar operators to help them stay awake and focus on boring, repetitive tasks. And when we reviewed the literature on attention-deficit drugs again in 1990 we found that all children, whether they had attention problems or not, responded to stimulant drugs the same way. Moreover, while the drugs helped children settle down in class, they actually increased activity in the playground. Stimulants generally have the same effects for all children and adults. They enhance the ability to concentrate, especially on tasks that are not inherently interesting or when one is fatigued or bored, but they don't improve broader learning abilities.
And just as in the many dieters who have used and abandoned similar drugs to lose weight, the effects of stimulants on children with attention problems fade after prolonged use. Some experts have argued that children with A.D.D. wouldn't develop such tolerance because their brains were somehow different. But in fact, the loss of appetite and sleeplessness in children first prescribed attention-deficit drugs do fade, and, as we now know, so do the effects on behavior. They apparently develop a tolerance to the drug, and thus its efficacy disappears. Many parents who take their children off the drugs find that behavior worsens, which most likely confirms their belief that the drugs work. But the behavior worsens because the children's bodies have become adapted to the drug. Adults may have similar reactions if they suddenly cut back on coffee, or stop smoking.
TO date, no study has found any long-term benefit of attention-deficit medication on academic performance, peer relationships or behavior problems, the very things we would most want to improve. Until recently, most studies of these drugs had not been properly randomized, and some of them had other methodological flaws.
But in 2009, findings were published from a well-controlled study that had been going on for more than a decade, and the results were very clear. The study randomly assigned almost 600 children with attention problems to four treatment conditions. Some received medication alone, some cognitive-behavior therapy alone, some medication plus therapy, and some were in a community-care control group that received no systematic treatment. At first this study suggested that medication, or medication plus therapy, produced the best results. However, after three years, these effects had faded, and by eight years there was no evidence that medication produced any academic or behavioral benefits.
Indeed, all of the treatment successes faded over time, although the study is continuing. Clearly, these children need a broader base of support than was offered in this medication study, support that begins earlier and lasts longer.
Nevertheless, findings in neuroscience are being used to prop up the argument for drugs to treat the hypothesized "inborn defect." These studies show that children who receive an A.D.D. diagnosis have different patterns of neurotransmitters in their brains and other anomalies. While the technological sophistication of these studies may impress parents and nonprofessionals, they can be misleading. Of course the brains of children with behavior problems will show anomalies on brain scans. It could not be otherwise. Behavior and the brain are intertwined. Depression also waxes and wanes in many people, and as it does so, parallel changes in brain functioning occur, regardless of medication.
Many of the brain studies of children with A.D.D. involve examining participants while they are engaged in an attention task. If these children are not paying attention because of lack of motivation or an underdeveloped capacity to regulate their behavior, their brain scans are certain to be anomalous.
However brain functioning is measured, these studies tell us nothing about whether the observed anomalies were present at birth or whether they resulted from trauma, chronic stress or other early-childhood experiences. One of the most profound findings in behavioral neuroscience in recent years has been the clear evidence that the developing brain is shaped by experience.
It is certainly true that large numbers of children have problems with attention, self-regulation and behavior. But are these problems because of some aspect present at birth? Or are they caused by experiences in early childhood? These questions can be answered only by studying children and their surroundings from before birth through childhood and adolescence, as my colleagues at the University of Minnesota and I have been doing for decades.
Since 1975, we have followed 200 children who were born into poverty and were therefore more vulnerable to behavior problems. We enrolled their mothers during pregnancy, and over the course of their lives, we studied their relationships with their caregivers, teachers and peers. We followed their progress through school and their experiences in early adulthood. At regular intervals we measured their health, behavior, performance on intelligence tests and other characteristics.
By late adolescence, 50 percent of our sample qualified for some psychiatric diagnosis. Almost half displayed behavior problems at school on at least one occasion, and 24 percent dropped out by 12th grade; 14 percent met criteria for A.D.D. in either first or sixth grade.
Other large-scale epidemiological studies confirm such trends in the general population of disadvantaged children. Among all children, including all socioeconomic groups, the incidence of A.D.D. is estimated at 8 percent. What we found was that the environment of the child predicted development of A.D.D. problems. In stark contrast, measures of neurological anomalies at birth, I.Q. and infant temperament -- including infant activity level -- did not predict A.D.D.
Plenty of affluent children are also diagnosed with A.D.D. Behavior problems in children have many possible sources. Among them are family stresses like domestic violence, lack of social support from friends or relatives, chaotic living situations, including frequent moves, and, especially, patterns of parental intrusiveness that involve stimulation for which the baby is not prepared. For example, a 6-month-old baby is playing, and the parent picks it up quickly from behind and plunges it in the bath. Or a 3-year-old is becoming frustrated in solving a problem, and a parent taunts or ridicules. Such practices excessively stimulate and also compromise the child's developing capacity for self-regulation.
Putting children on drugs does nothing to change the conditions that derail their development in the first place. Yet those conditions are receiving scant attention. Policy makers are so convinced that children with attention deficits have an organic disease that they have all but called off the search for a comprehensive understanding of the condition. The National Institute of Mental Health finances research aimed largely at physiological and brain components of A.D.D. While there is some research on other treatment approaches, very little is studied regarding the role of experience. Scientists, aware of this orientation, tend to submit only grants aimed at elucidating the biochemistry.
Thus, only one question is asked: are there aspects of brain functioning associated with childhood attention problems? The answer is always yes. Overlooked is the very real possibility that both the brain anomalies and the A.D.D. result from experience.
Our present course poses numerous risks. First, there will never be a single solution for all children with learning and behavior problems. While some smaller number may benefit from short-term drug treatment, large-scale, long-term treatment for millions of children is not the answer.
Second, the large-scale medication of children feeds into a societal view that all of life's problems can be solved with a pill and gives millions of children the impression that there is something inherently defective in them.
Finally, the illusion that children's behavior problems can be cured with drugs prevents us as a society from seeking the more complex solutions that will be necessary. Drugs get everyone -- politicians, scientists, teachers and parents -- off the hook. Everyone except the children, that is.
If drugs, which studies show work for four to eight weeks, are not the answer, what is? Many of these children have anxiety or depression; others are showing family stresses. We need to treat them as individuals.
As for shortages, they will continue to wax and wane. Because these drugs are habit forming, Congress decides how much can be produced. The number approved doesn't keep pace with the tidal wave of prescriptions. By the end of this year, there will in all likelihood be another shortage, as we continue to rely on drugs that are not doing what so many well-meaning parents, therapists and teachers believe they are doing.
Wisconsin's science standards--unchanged since 1998, in spite of much earlier criticism, ours included--are simply worthless. No real content exists to evaluate.WKOW:
In lieu of content, the "authors" have passed the buck by merely citing unelaborated references to the now outdated National Science Education Standards (NSES). Rather than using the NSES as building blocks for a comprehensive set of science standards, however, Wisconsin has used them as an escape hatch to avoid hard work and careful thought
Madison Schools Superintendent Dan Nerad says the state already has plans to review its standards in all areas.Remarkable. Much more at www.wisconsin2.org.
"I think we have to be cautious not to look at the current state because it is very much in flux right now," Nerad says. "Things are going to change. it doesn't makes sense to look backwards as it does to look forward."
Claremont McKenna College, a small, prestigious California school, said Monday that for the past six years, it has submitted false SAT scores to publications like U.S. News & World Report that use the data in widely followed college rankings.
In a message e-mailed to college staff members and students, Claremont McKenna's president since 1999, Pamela B. Gann, wrote that "a senior administrator" had taken sole responsibility for falsifying the scores, admitted doing so since 2005, and resigned his post.
People briefed on the matter said that the administrator was Richard C. Vos, vice president and dean of admissions, whose name was removed in the last few days from the college's online list of top officials.
Mr. Vos, reached at his home Monday night, said: "No comment. It's an internal personnel matter."
In his State of the Union address, President Obama called on every state to require students to stay in school until they graduate or turn 18. "When students don't walk away from their education, more of them walk the stage to get their diploma," he said.
The White House cited studies that showed how raising the compulsory schooling age helps prevent kids from leaving school. And while some of that is true, some of it is also wishful thinking.
Sixty-two New York City schools are on a path to be closed or otherwise re-shaped this year. Here's a score card to help you keep track of what schools are affected and how.
This post lists the 19 schools that the Department of Education wants to phase out, along with the six that will have their middle school grades removed (that's called truncation).
Until Feb. 9, when the Panel for Educational Policy votes on the changes, hearings are going on almost every night at the schools that are to be phased out or truncated. You can find the calendar of hearings here.
It was Jamie Oliver's toughest challenge... getting US youngsters to ditch junk food and eat a healthier diet.
But six months after he convinced an LA school to swap fattening burgers for low-calorie salads, his revamped menu is - literally - being binned.
Hundreds of students at West Adams Preparatory High School, where his hit show Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution was filmed, are refusing to eat his cuisine.
Instead, bins are overflowing with the TV chef's veg curries, quinoa salads, Thai noodles and wheatbread burgers.
Many youngsters even go without lunch altogether.
The Janesville Gazette reported last week that principals at some of the city's public elementary school are attributing some major positive academic and behavioral trends to a relatively minor change: moving recess from after to before lunch.
I remember the post-lunch recess -- chasing girls, pick-up football, the bloody nose I gave my best friend.
In fact, I remember school-day and school-year schedules being much the same as the ones my 5-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son experience at their Madison public elementary school -- from the timing of recess, to summer vacation, to days off to honor such notables as Polish-born Revolutionary War hero Casimir Pulaski (keep in mind this was the Chicago area, which has a large Polish population).
I suppose that could be because at some point decades ago, the public education establishment discovered the perfect academic schedule and, well, why tinker with something that works?
Janesville's experience suggests something else, though: that post-lunch recess is just another public education tradition among a slew of public education traditions that could benefit from a fresh pair of eyes.
Last week, Apple unveiled two new education-related products: iBooks textbooks and the new iTunes U courses. While both interest me, I was particularly fascinated by the new iTunes U courses and how they bundle information together. I converted my existing Advanced iPhone Development iTunes U class into a full course (which you can subscribe to for free) a few days ago. I wanted to write about what I learned in the process of doing this.
As I mentioned, I taught a course in 2010 at the Madison Area Technical College on advanced iPhone (now iOS) development. We recorded this course and made videos of the sessions available for free on iTunes U. Both the spring semester and fall semester of 2010 can be found as video collections in 720p HD on iTunes U. Each class session is roughly three hours long, because they were part of a once-a-week professional development course.
A few weeks ago, my colleague Paul Schwartzman introduced readers to a group of Prince George's County residents known as "the Seat Pleasant 59." They were promised in 1988, when they were in elementary school, that their tuition would be paid if they worked hard and got into college. More than two decades later, only 11 have four-year degrees, a consequence of many bad turns, most of them related to growing up in poverty.
Some readers may conclude that most of these children were doomed from the start. Many lacked the parental support, teacher encouragement and personal resilience needed to take advantage of the offer from philanthropists Abe Pollin and Melvin Cohen. Is a tuition promise wasted on such children?
While my daughter was sitting the first exam of her life, I didn't know what to do with myself. I hovered outside the building in the same way I have done when loved ones are undergoing surgery, transferring my weight from one foot to another - cursing that I have only two - nursing the strange delusion that feeling extreme discomfort myself might just be comforting to another, through the ether. All that kept coming into my mind were her parting words to me: "'All at once' is a good alternative to 'suddenly'. And also 'without warning.'" It cannot be denied.
My anxiety was really surpassing itself. It was citrus-hued and neon-bright. All at once my ring of worries had little multi-faceted briolettes of worries suspended from them and these, in turn, had matching ear and toe rings, necklaces and bracelets. I could almost hear my nerves jangling and looked about myself anxiously as though I were an unwelcome morris dancer about to be shooed from a sophisticated urban setting. I have dispatched such rustic groovers myself with cutting remarks in my time. I regret it now, obviously.
Madison Preparatory Academy doesn't have the money to open as a private school next fall and its future is in the hands of the Madison School Board, according to a lead supporter of the charter school proposal.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Supporters still want to open Madison Prep in the fall but haven't been able to raise about $1.2 million needed to run the school because its future beyond next year remains uncertain, Madison Prep board chairman David Cagigal said last week; moreover, a key donor said her support is contingent on School Board backing.
Cagigal said the private school option was never intended to be more than an interim plan before the school opened as a public charter school. One of the most common reasons charter schools fail is lack of funding, he added.
"We can't approach these donors unless we mitigate the risk," Cagigal said. "The only way we can do that is seek a 2013 vote."
Cagigal acknowledged that if the School Board doesn't vote on opening Madison Prep as a charter school in 2013, "then we may have to wait."
The fate of Madison Prep was discussed at a recent school board candidate forum.
Charter schools: The Oakland school board rejected the charter school petitions submitted by the faculties of ASCEND and Learning Without Limits, public elementary schools in the Fruitvale area that want to secede from the school district. The district's charter schools office recommended that the board approve the request, but Superintendent Tony Smith took a different stance, pointing to the financial investment the district has made in the schools since they opened.
This section of a staff resolution seems to sum up the superintendent's position: "Whereas, the District cannot succeed at its strategic plan to create a Full Service Community School District that serves the whole child ... if after millions of dollars in investment, individual schools that have achieved because of the District's investment can separate and opt out of the District, with the consequence that the District loses its collective identity as a school system serving children in all neighborhoods in
For the first time this year, LAUSD has prepared reports for teachers that rate their effectiveness. When I received an email saying I could now view my own personal "Average Growth over Time" report, I opened it with a combination of trepidation, resignation and indignation.
First, the indignation. It is, I think, the key factor that has kept me teaching past the five-year mark, when most new teachers quit the profession. I am in my sixth year of teaching after a nearly 20-year career as a professional writer. I know that I am smart, hardworking and competent, and despite the many frustrations of teaching in the Los Angeles Unified School District, I have refused to throw in the towel -- as so many do.
Indignation is also what fueled my reaction when I saw the rating the school district sent. It showed me to be on the low side of average for high school English teachers in the district.
The 7th Inter-Schools Mathematics Olympiad 2012 was organised on Sunday at the Pak-Turk International School Campus. Over 3,000 students from 470 schools of Jhelum, Attock, Chakwal, Rawalpindi and Islamabad participated in the mega educational competition. In order to evoke interest among the students, Pak-Turk International schools and colleges have been arranging the ISMO competition for the last six years. Speaking at the event, educationists said that there are not enough chances for student to exhibit their talent to the world. There is an immense need of such programmes for the brilliant youth, they added. This unique competition provides a great chance for the students of 5, 6, 7 and 8 classes or grades to show their incredible potential and win handsome prizes.
PLEASE NOTE: This is a provisional website meant to convey vital information to those interested. Our much-improved website will launch here soon, so stay tuned!
Launched through a generous gift from Gus and Rita Hauser, the Harvard Initiative for Learning and Teaching (HILT) is a Presidential Initiative to catalyze experimentation in teaching that improves student learning. It will capitalize on, strengthen, and broaden the scope of existing learning and teaching activities at Harvard, transform Harvard students' educational experience in keeping with current and future technological and pedagogical needs, build on Harvard's leadership in the research, application, and assessment of innovative pedagogy, and develop a robust, synergistic network of expertise, scholarly work, and creativity through dedicated University support that flows to the Schools and allows for sharing across Harvard campuses.
As state after state rewrites their education laws in line with the mandates from Race to the Top and the NCLB waiver process, the teaching profession is being redefined. Teachers will now pay the price - be declared successes or failures, depending on the rise or fall of their students' test scores. Under NCLB it was schools that were declared failures. In states being granted waivers to NCLB, it is teachers who will be subjected to this ignominy. Of course we will still be required to label the bottom 5% of our schools as failures, but if the Department of Education has its way, soon every single teacher in the profession will be at risk for the label.
This revelation came to me as I read the Score Card on Education prepared by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), authored by Dr. Matthew Ladner and Dan Lips. This is a remarkable document. It provides their report on where each of the states stands on the education "reform" that has become the hallmark of corporate philanthropies, the Obama administration and governors across the nation.
It begins with a histrionic comparison between the struggle over our schools and the Battle of Britain in the Second World War. The authors write:
First of a series180K PDF version.
The recent controversy over the Urban League of Greater Madison's proposal for a Madison Preparatory Academy has been framed primarily as a local story pitting contending interests within the city. The charter school's promoters, supporters and mainstream media have portrayed the ULGM's CEO and President, Kaleem Caire as the Prep's public champion and native son returned home on a mission to help "close the achievement gap," the racial disparities in Madison's schools.
But Caire's well-established national ties, spanning more than a decade, to numbers of conservative foundations, think tanks and individuals bent on privatizing public school coffers, creating for-profit schools, and destroying teachers' unions, certainly suggest that there is more to the story.
Caire has consistently dismissed any suggestion of his links to various right-wing efforts. On occasion he has admitted some distant connections but asserted his independence by saying, "They have their agenda, but we have ours." Lately, he has taken to waving off critic's references to such ties as nothing more than "guilt-by-association crap" or part of a "conspiracy" and "whisper campaign" coming from those trying to discredit the Mad Prep Academy project. However, a readily traceable history reveals some truth to the charges.
Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
ONLY 21 states require students to attend high school until they graduate or turn 18. The proposal President Obama announced on Tuesday night in his State of the Union address -- to make such attendance compulsory in every state -- is a step in the right direction, but it would not go far enough to reduce a dropout rate that imposes a heavy cost on the entire economy, not just on those who fail to obtain a diploma.
In 1970, the United States had the world's highest rate of high school and college graduation. Today, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, we've slipped to No. 21 in high school completion and No. 15 in college completion, as other countries surpassed us in the quality of their primary and secondary education.
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."
In this recent interview with The Wall Street Journal, Sandberg talked specifically about the gaming industry, which has been upended by the popularity of social-gaming venues, such as Words With Friends and Farmville.
"What was he thinking?" It's the familiar cry of bewildered parents trying to understand why their teenagers act the way they do.
How does the boy who can thoughtfully explain the reasons never to drink and drive end up in a drunken crash? Why does the girl who knows all about birth control find herself pregnant by a boy she doesn't even like? What happened to the gifted, imaginative child who excelled through high school but then dropped out of college, drifted from job to job and now lives in his parents' basement?
If you think of the teenage brain as a car, today's adolescents acquire an accelerator a long time before they can steer and brake.
Adolescence has always been troubled, but for reasons that are somewhat mysterious, puberty is now kicking in at an earlier and earlier age. A leading theory points to changes in energy balance as children eat more and move less.
What if you suddenly found out that half of the eighth-graders in Wisconsin, all kids you thought were highly rated readers, really didn't merit being called proficient? That instead of four out of five being pretty decent in math, it was really two out of five?A substantial improvement in academic standards is warranted and possibly wonderful, assuming it happens and avoids being watered down. The rightly criticized WKCE was an expensive missed opportunity.
You better start thinking how you'd react because it's likely that is what's coming right at us. That's how dramatic a proposal last week by the state Department of Public Instruction is.
As parents, teachers, school leaders, politicians, community leaders and taxpayers, will we be motivated to do better? Will we see the need for change? Will we rise to the occasion? Or will we settle for being discouraged and basically locked into what we've come to expect?
Here's what's going on: With Congress failing to pass a revision, originally due in 2007, of the education law known as No Child Left Behind, the U.S. Department of Education has begun issuing waivers from the enforcement program of the increasingly dysfunctional law. Wisconsin wants a waiver - it's one of the things people such as Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic-oriented Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers agree on. So a task force developed a proposal. People have until Feb. 3 to react to the proposal and the application is to be submitted Feb. 21.
The plan will change a lot of important dynamics of what students and schools in Wisconsin are expected to accomplish. It calls for publicly rating all schools on a 1 to 100 point scale, with student outcomes as a key factor. Schools that score low will face orders to improve and, possibly, closing. And that goes for every school with students whose education is paid for with public dollars - in other words, private schools in the voucher programs for Milwaukee and Racine kids are included.
Overall, the waiver plan means we are at the point where Wisconsin gets serious about raising expectations for student achievement. Wisconsin is regarded as having one of the lowest bars in the U.S. for rating a student as proficient. No more, the proposal says.
Eighth-grade reading: Using the WKCE measuring stick, 86% of students were rated as "advanced" or "proficient." Using the NAEP measuring stick, it was 35% - a 51-point difference. At least as vivid: Using the WKCE measure, 47% of eighth-graders were "advanced," the top bracket. Using the NAEP measure, it was 3%. Three percent! In other words, only a handful of kids statewide would be labeled advanced under the new system, not the nearly half we're used to.
Fourth-grade reading: On the WKCE scale, 82% were proficient or advanced. On the NAEP scale, it was 33%.
Eighth-grade math: WKCE, 78% proficient. NAEP: 41%.
Fourth-grade math: WKCE: 79% proficient. NAEP: 47%.
The current version of The New Yorker has a wonderful article by Jonah Lehrer called "Groupthink" (you can see the abstract here). It does a great job of showing how creativity is a social process, cites wonderful research by Brian Uzzi showing that when people have experience working together in the past they produce more successful Broadway musicals (up to a point, too many old friends is as bad as too few), and offers research showing that groups where members engage in constructive conflict are more creative -- all themes I have talked about at various times on this blog.
I do however have a major quibble. At one point, Lehrer states flatly that brainstorming doesn't work. He later quotes creativity researcher Keith Sawyer as saying that people are more efficient at generating ideas when they work alone than in groups, something that is well-established. But that is not the same as saying there is conclusive evidence they don't work.
As reported by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and the Associated Press, NCTQ filed a lawsuit yesterday -- a first for us -- against the University of Wisconsin system.Related Georgia, Wisconsin Education Schools Back Out of NCTQ Review
UW campuses issued identically worded denials of our requests for course syllabi, which is one of the many sources of information we use to rate programs for the National Review of teacher preparation programs. They argue that "syllabi are not public records because they are subject to copyright" and therefore do not have to be produced in response to an open records request.
We believe that the University's reading of the law is flawed. We are engaged in research on the quality of teacher preparation programs, and so our request falls squarely within the fair use provision of copyright law. What's more, these documents were created at public institutions for the training of public school teachers, and so should be subject to scrutiny by the public.
Public higher education institutions in Wisconsin and Georgia--and possibly as many as five other states--will not participate voluntarily in a review of education schools now being conducted by the National Council for Teacher Quality and U.S. News and World Report, according to recent correspondence between state consortia and the two groups.When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?
In response, NCTQ and U.S. News are moving forward with plans to obtain the information from these institutions through open-records requests.
In letters to the two organizations, the president of the University of Wisconsin system and the chancellor of Georgia's board of regents said their public institutions would opt out of the review, citing a lack of transparency and questionable methodology, among other concerns.
Formally announced in January, the review will rate education schools on up to 18 standards, basing the decisions primarily on examinations of course syllabuses and student-teaching manuals.
Lake Wobegon has nothing on the UW-Madison School of Education. All of the children in Garrison Keillor's fictional Minnesota town are "above average." Well, in the School of Education they're all A students.
The 1,400 or so kids in the teacher-training department soared to a dizzying 3.91 grade point average on a four-point scale in the spring 2009 semester.
This was par for the course, so to speak. The eight departments in Education (see below) had an aggregate 3.69 grade point average, next to Pharmacy the highest among the UW's schools. Scrolling through the Registrar's online grade records is a discombobulating experience, if you hold to an old-school belief that average kids get C's and only the really high performers score A's.
Much like a modern-day middle school honors assembly, everybody's a winner at the UW School of Education. In its Department of Curriculum and Instruction (that's the teacher-training program), 96% of the undergraduates who received letter grades collected A's and a handful of A/B's. No fluke, another survey taken 12 years ago found almost exactly the same percentage.
Everyone agrees the United States needs to improve its education system dramatically, but how? One of the hottest trends in education reform lately is looking at the stunning success of the West's reigning education superpower, Finland. Trouble is, when it comes to the lessons that Finnish schools have to offer, most of the discussion seems to be missing the point.
The small Nordic country of Finland used to be known -- if it was known for anything at all -- as the home of Nokia, the mobile phone giant. But lately Finland has been attracting attention on global surveys of quality of life -- Newsweek ranked it number one last year -- and Finland's national education system has been receiving particular praise, because in recent years Finnish students have been turning in some of the highest test scores in the world.
Finland's schools owe their newfound fame primarily to one study: the PISA survey, conducted every three years by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The survey compares 15-year-olds in different countries in reading, math, and science. Finland has ranked at or near the top in all three competencies on every survey since 2000, neck and neck with superachievers such as South Korea and Singapore. In the most recent survey in 2009 Finland slipped slightly, with students in Shanghai, China, taking the best scores, but the Finns are still near the very top. Throughout the same period, the PISA performance of the United States has been middling, at best.
The small schools initiative that has been the hallmark of the Bloomberg administration's schools policy seems to be working, a new study has found.Related: Small Learning Communities
Winnie Hu reports in The New York Times on Thursday that the study found that students who attend public high schools that have about 100 students in each grade were more likely to graduate.
The continuing study is described as "one of the largest and most comprehensive reviews of the impact of small schools on learning." Its $3.5 million cost is covered by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the study is conducted by MDRC, a nonprofit education research group based in Manhattan.
The study found that students at small high schools were more likely to earn a diploma than students who attend larger schools, The Times reports.
Steve Jobs didn't think that technology alone could fix what ails American education. It's worth remembering that in the wake of last week's breathless coverage of Apple's new iBooks platform, which the company promises will radically change how students use and experience textbooks. Under Apple's plan, companies and individuals will be able to self-publish textbooks, ideally creating a wider array of content. Students will be able to download and use these books on their iPad much like they would use a regular textbook -- including highlighting passages, making notes and pulling out passages or chapters that are especially important to them. Apple says it also plans to cap the price of textbooks available through iBooks at $14.99, a significant departure from the price of many textbooks now.
Critics were quick to pounce that Apple wasn't being revolutionary enough. Former school superintendent and current ed-tech investor Tom Vander Ark chided Apple for not thinking past textbooks, which he considers hopelessly 20th century. Others worried that Apple's real goal wasn't to open up the textbook industry but to control it and profit from it through restrictive licensing agreements and a platform that dominates the market. I'm sure the for-profit company's shareholders will be horrified at that news.
Seat 1 Candidates:
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
Seat 2 Candidates:
via a kind reader's email
Madison School District BoardBoth Madison School Board races are contested this year.
Seat 1: Arlene Silveira Website / Facebook
Seat 2: Michael Flores Website / Facebook
Now we have to make sure they get elected! That takes money (some) and work (lots).
The money part is easy--come to the Progressive Dane Campaign Fund-raiser
Sunday February 12, 5-7 pm
Cardinal Bar, 418 E Wilson St
(Potluck food, Cash Bar, Family Friendly)
Meet the candidates, hear about Madison School District and Dane County issues, pick some to work on this year!
Seat 1 Candidates:
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
Seat 2 Candidates:
First Niagara Bank has pledged $3 million to support a nonprofit group that is representing business interests in Connecticut's education reform debate.
The money will go to Hartford's Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER), which is led by a group of prominent Connecticut business leaders including former Hartford Financial Services Group CEO Ramani Ayer, and Peyton Patterson, the former chief executive of NewAllinace Bank, which was acquired by First Niagara Bank last year.
The Connecticut Council for Education Reform also unveiled Thursday its education agenda for the upcoming legislative session, which includes urging the state to adopt:
--Teacher and leader employment and retention policies that attract the highest quality professionals and insist upon effectiveness as defined by their ability to demonstrate improvement in student performance, not seniority, as the measure of success defined by redesigned evaluation systems.
Idaho's controversial new school reform laws gutted teacher associations' collective bargaining powers, but local union leaders say they can still work effectively with their district administration to help shape policies.
"This (legislation) basically said to districts that if you don't want to work with teachers in these areas, you can say by law you don't have to do it anymore," Boise Education Association President Andrew Rath said. "But I think they've found that districts want to work with the teachers."
Association leaders Sam Stone of Caldwell and Luke Franklin of Meridian agreed.
"We can always talk to our district," Franklin said. "Our relationship isn't really 'us against them.'"
The Students Come First laws, unveiled by schools Superintendent Tom Luna one year ago and approved by the 2011 Legislature, limits teacher contract negotiations to the issues of pay and benefits and eliminates working conditions and other issues from master contracts.
Björk turned her last album into an app. Now she's turning her music into a science exhibit for city students, with an unusual three-week run at a Queens museum better known for its molecule models and retired spacecraft.
The singer arrives at the New York Hall of Science next month to hold a series of classes for middle school students, as well as six open-to-the-public concerts in the museum's Great Hall. Björk will also stage four shows at a more conventional concert venue: Manhattan's Roseland Ballroom.
"The whole idea is to take music education out of a bookish, academic thing and into a more physical, tactile experience," said Björk, 46 years old, in an interview as she was preparing for the event.
n recent listening sessions with Madison parents, I heard how we can improve our schools, what we can be really proud of and stories about our wonderful teachers. In these discussions and in others, people have talked about addressing the racial achievement gap and shared concerns about Madison Prep.
For the 12 years I have been involved in Madison schools, I have been championing education and addressing the racial achievement gap. An East High teacher and I co-founded the AVID/TOPS program, which I also supported financially and continue to co-chair. This program has increased the number of students graduating and going on to post-secondary education. But AVID TOPS alone is not enough. We need to do more.
When Madison Prep was discussed last fall, it was the only proposal put on the table in the last five years to significantly address the racial achievement gap. At that time the teachers union and the planners of Madison Prep were in agreement that the school would run with Madison School District employees, union teachers and under the leadership of the district (as an instrumentality). A major concern raised was that Madison Prep would pull resources needed by existing schools.
Back in December 2009, excited 4th graders at Westerly's State Street School (http://sss.westerly.k12.ri.us/) sat down to take a practice science test. Like little sports jocks, the kids approached the task as if it were training for the big game coming in the spring, the statewide science NECAP (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NECAP).Julia Steiny is a freelance columnist whose work also regularly appears at EducationViews.org and GoLocalProv.com. She is the founding director of the Youth Restoration Project, a restorative-practices initiative, currently building a demonstration project in Central Falls, Rhode Island. She consults for schools and government initiatives, including regular work for The Providence Plan for whom she analyzes data. For more detail, see juliasteiny.com or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o GoLocalProv, 44 Weybosset Street, Providence, RI 02903.
In 2008, the whole Westerly district had performed so poorly on that test that teachers actually volunteered their time to form a K-12 Science Task Force focused on redeeming their sullied academic reputation. (See last week's column about this Task Force (link to my column from last week) .)
Then, insult to injury, in 2009 State Street's scores tanked again.
The heat was on. State Street had already started implementing the Task Force's recommendations, including its strong emphasis on teaching writing.
Wait. Writing? That's English, not science. But more on this in a moment.
Westerly's students had struggled particularly with the "inquiry" part of the NECAP, where kids to do a hands-on task and draw conclusions from what they see in front of them.
State Street's Principal Audrey Faubert says, "Science (NECAP) is only given at the 4th grade (and later at 8th and 11th), so K-3 weren't exposed to the rigors of testing. We decided to give all the kids an inquiry task to complete. And the faculty also took some of the released test items from the RIDE website. (http://www.ride.ri.gov/assessment/necap_releaseditems.aspx) Even though they'd been teaching inquiry with the science kits (http://www.uri.edu/hss/education/GEMSNET-URI/index.html) , it was interesting for the teachers to be on the other side of a test."
But the spotlight's glare was on those 4th graders.
Faubert smiled sadly, "The room was buzzing. The kids thought they did fantastic."
Working in pairs, the school's entire teaching staff scored the kids' work. The results were enough to induce clinical depression.
But as it turns out, the school's good efforts hadn't quite paid off yet. The Task Force was onto a good thing when they decided writing was key to learning science. State Street's instruction had only just started to take root.
Here's the problem: Old science was about answers. When a test asks a question like: "How does wind change sand dunes?" somewhere in the science textbook was an answer that the kid was supposed to have memorized.
New science is about thinking and reasoning. The way Faubert puts it is: "The (NECAP) science test is a thinking test, not a knowledge test. Science isn't about recall any more, but about synthesizing information." New science poses essential questions, such as the sand dunes example, but now the kids need to derive the answer themselves, by sorting through data. Teachers provide techniques, tools, research methods, and experiences. But like scientists themselves, students must do their own research and figure out what their discoveries mean.
Writing is always the product of thinking. Writing forces a kid to organize her thoughts to be expressive and communicate clearly.
Middle-school principal Paula Fusco says "Prior to the work of the Task Force, we'd left writing up to the English teacher. But whatever the kids did or didn't know, they weren't able to communicate their understanding of science."
To work on that understanding, Fusco says, "we've been taking the vocabulary out of NECAP--infer, predict, explain. So the kids aren't afraid of the words they're encountering."
The ability to define "predict" doesn't help at all if the ability to MAKE a prediction isn't also a familiar habit. Kids need to demonstrate, by their writing, that they understand what they need to DO when the test asks them to predict, infer or explain.
Similarly, Fusco's teachers began to work with the kids on "sentence starters" to guide their thinking--However, In conclusion, Whereas, Therefore.
Fortunately, Westerly's students were in the habit of writing in science journals. But they had used them mainly to record observations. Faubert says, "Every teacher brought in examples of their students' science journals. Oh, here are the strengths and weaknesses right in our own notebooks. We'd never had the kids prove their thinking in their journals. Think like a scientist, based on what's in front of you. Prove your thinking. Prove your thinking. We said that so many times."
At the end of the day, teaching the kids to EXPLAIN their predictions and reasoning was the clearest way to teach them habits of scientific thinking. And those explanations also helped the teachers assess kids' understanding and misunderstanding.
By February, State Street dared to try another practice test with the 4th graders. Again, the staff scored it together. Ahhh, much better. So much so, Faubert felt more confident about improving on the 49 percent proficiency they'd managed in the prior year's test.
In fact, when the results were released last Fall, State Street kids hit 80 percent proficiency, 8th highest in the state, out of over 150 schools that take that test. (And Westerly is the 8th lowest-income community in the state.)
Superintendent Roy Seitsinger's take on the situation is this: "Nobody (meaning veteran educators) signed up for what we're doing now. Most of the people weren't trained to bring students through a thinking process. Now the educators' job is to teach kids how to sift through all that information and to be critical, reflective and make decisions. We have too much information and not nearly enough sorting skills."
Therefore, in conclusion, learning to write promotes scientific thinking. Other districts would do well to take notice.
he Stanford University professor who taught an online artificial intelligence course to more than 160,000 students has abandoned his tenured position to aim for an even bigger audience.
Sebastian Thrun, a professor of computer science at Stanford, revealed today that he has departed the institution to found Udacity, a start-up offering low-cost online classes. He made the surprising announcement during a presentation at the Digital - Life - Design conference in Munich, Germany. The development was first reported earlier today by Reuters.
During his talk, Mr. Thrun explored the origins of his popular online course at Stanford, which initially featured videos produced with nothing more than "a camera, a pen and a napkin." Despite the low production quality, many of the 200 Stanford students taking the course in the classroom flocked to the videos because they could absorb the lectures at their own pace. Eventually, the 200 students taking the course in person dwindled to a group of 30. Meanwhile, the course's popularity exploded online, drawing students from around the world. The experience taught the professor that he could craft a course with the interactive tools of the Web that recreated the intimacy of one-on-one tutoring, he said.
Bill Cosby and Dick Morris presumably disagree about most things, so it's instructive to note that both have officially endorsed "School Choice Week," which began yesterday with a series of rallies and events around the country celebrating the idea of parents being able to decide where their children go to school. Indeed, school choice seems like such an obviously good idea that the most interesting thing about School Choice Week is why it exists at all.
That school choice is valuable is beyond dispute. That's why there's a multi-billion dollar private school industry serving millions of students. And it's why there is a much larger system of school choice embedded in the American real estate market. While some parents pay school tuition directly, many more pay it through their monthly mortgage and property tax bills. Anyone who has deliberately purchased a home in a "good" school district is, by definition, a beneficiary and supporter of school choice.
That is a new paper of mine, you will find the link here. Here is the abstract:This paper considers an economic approach to autistic individuals, as a window for understanding autism, as a new and growing branch of neuroeconomics (how does behavior vary with neurology?), and as a foil for better understanding non-autistics and their cognitive biases. The relevant economic predictions for autistics involve greater specialization in production and consumption, lower price elasticities of supply and demand, a higher return from choosing features of their environment, less effective use of social focal points, and higher relative returns as economic growth and specialization proceed. There is also evidence that autistics are less subject to framing effects and more rational on the receiving end of ultimatum games. Considering autistics modifies some of the standard results from economic theories of the family and the economics of discrimination. Although there are likely more than seventy million autistic individuals worldwide, the topic has been understudied by economists. An economic approach also helps us see shortcomings in the "pure disorder" models of autism.
A week ago there was an article in the Seattle Times describing a large drop in applicants to the UW this year. Considering that other WA State schools have not seen a similar decline and all state colleges are experiencing essentially the same tuition increases, why are UW applications down?
Could it be the incessant articles and editorials by the Seattle Times about how the UW is turning down strong applicants to let in more out of state students? How about this Seattle Times headline last spring:
"Why straight-A's may not get you into the UW this year"
which suggested that
"High-school seniors with top test scores didn't get in.
Students who got into more prestigious schools were wait-listed at the UW.
Valedictorians with straight-A's were denied admission, while out-of-state students with lower grades were accepted."
The most important domestic subject that I FAIL to adequately cover is K-12 education. It's potentially the most effective tool we have for increasing vertical mobility in our society -- and hence is currently misused as the best single method to repress disadvantaged minorities.
What the education unions and their bought-and-paid-for Democrat allies have done to inner city black and Hispanic kids would warm the cockles of any KKK Grand Dragon. The Progressives' steadfast opposition to improving education angers me every time I think about it.
Thus I include intact below an excellent op-ed on the topic from the LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS. It's upbeat -- giving the growing success of the school choice movement in all its many flavors.
Sadly, California is one of the least successful states in this effort to improve education. All we hear from CA liberals is that we don't spend enough. But the growing popularity and acceptance of school choice in other states is going to make it more and more difficult for our voters to ignore this innovation.
The top priority facing southeastern Wisconsin - and, indeed, the biggest challenge for the entire state - is the creation of more new jobs.
There are many good ideas for creating new jobs, and many deserve further consideration. The creation of new venture capital funds, tax breaks for industries and workforce training incentives for companies that locate in Wisconsin are all worthy of further consideration and possible action.
But the best strategy for creating new jobs is to look at what companies want when deciding where to expand a plant or locate a production facility. No doubt, they look at quality of life, housing, transportation, the overall community and other factors.
However, time and again, one of the top assets that attracts new jobs is a quality education system at all levels that produces bright, articulate and engaging future workers who accept the challenge of the new international economy and the interdependent global economic landscape. That starts at kindergarten and continues beyond high school. Gone are the days when a student could graduate from high school and move to a job that could last a lifetime.
Listen to the event via this 77MB mp3 audio file.
The event was sponsored by the Dane County Council of Public Affairs.
Seat 1 Candidates:
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
Seat 2 Candidates:
via a kind reader. It is great to see competitive races.
UPDATE 2.8.2012: A transcript is now available.
Details of the latest plan to eliminate and replace school property taxes have been finalized and the legislation will be introduced shortly in the Pennsylvania House and Senate.Wisconsin's property taxes have increased significantly over the years. How long will this continue?
House Bill 1776, The Property Tax Independence Act, looks in part to the former School Property Tax Elimination Act (SPTEA) for its basic structure. While The Property Tax Independence Act mirrors some of the provisions of the former SPTEA, the plan has been comprehensively rewritten to account for lawmakers' concerns and preferences in order to eliminate objections common to the previous legislation.
- The Property Tax Independence Act will eliminate school property and local school nuisance taxes across the Commonwealth and will replace those taxes with funding from a single state source.
- The Property Tax Independence Act introduces a modernized school funding method that is based on 21st century economic realities.
- The Property Tax Independence Act will ABOLISH the school property tax as well as eliminate the local school earned income tax and nuisance taxes such as the per capita and privilege-to-work taxes imposed by school districts.
- The Property Tax Independence Act uses in great measure our current sales tax mechanism to fund schools, restoring the original intent of the tax.
- The sales tax provides a predictable and stable funding source that is tied to economic growth. This is in clear contrast to the school property tax which is not based on economic growth and is subject to much variation.
- Current school spending regularly exceeds tax revenue and The Property Tax Independence Act addresses this problem head on by limiting school budget increases to the rate of inflation.
As Highland Park schools officials pleaded their case against an emergency manager to officials in Lansing on Friday, Gov. Rick Snyder sent a letter to the district's parents informing them that without state intervention there would be no district by the end of next month.
Parents of Highland Park School District students told district officials today they received a letter from the governor informing them of the school district's dire financial situation.
In a letter dated Jan. 20, Snyder told parents finances for the school district have reached a crisis stage and during the 2010-11 school year, the district was $3 million over budget.
The letter also mentioned the state forwarded an emergency advance of $188,000 to the district on Jan. 13.
This evening, my family will sit down on the couch together to enjoy the opening episode of America's favorite spectacle of poor metacognition. Along with millions of others, including some of you, we will marvel at the sight of so many human beings eager to put their deficient cognitive skills on display for the world.
I'm talking, of course, about the season premiere of American Idol, where lousy metacognition will join lousy singing for two cringeworthy hours tonight and another hour tomorrow night, as amateur musicians audition for the opportunity to win fame, fortune, and a recording contract. The opening two episodes of each season have become notorious for featuring the worst singers who auditioned for the show, encouraging viewers to engage in some gentle schadenfreude as Idol participants make fools of themselves on national television.
Learning Matters is a 501(c)(3) non-profit production company. We predominantly produce education reports and videos for PBS NewsHour, and have also produced over 30 documentaries focused on education. We also have a weekly podcast, available both here and on iTunes.www.learningmatters.tv
The ideal of an 'American way of life' is fading as the working class falls further away from institutions like marriage and religion and the upper class becomes more isolated. Charles Murray on what's cleaving America, and why.
America is coming apart. For most of our nation's history, whatever the inequality in wealth between the richest and poorest citizens, we maintained a cultural equality known nowhere else in the world--for whites, anyway. "The more opulent citizens take great care not to stand aloof from the people," wrote Alexis de Tocqueville, the great chronicler of American democracy, in the 1830s. "On the contrary, they constantly keep on easy terms with the lower classes: They listen to them, they speak to them every day."
Americans love to see themselves this way. But there's a problem: It's not true anymore, and it has been progressively less true since the 1960s.
People are starting to notice the great divide. The tea party sees the aloofness in a political elite that thinks it knows best and orders the rest of America to fall in line. The Occupy movement sees it in an economic elite that lives in mansions and flies on private jets. Each is right about an aspect of the problem, but that problem is more pervasive than either political or economic inequality. What we now face is a problem of cultural inequality.
In a hushed first-grade classroom at Public School 55 in the South Bronx, Edward Muñoz, a bashful 7-year-old in scuffed sneakers and a worn hoodie, was sounding out tricky words with his tutor.
Together they plowed through a book about a birthday barbecue, tackling the words "party" and "presents." Then they played a rousing game of word-based tic-tac-toe, with Edward eventually declaring victory.
Exchanges like theirs take place every day in classrooms around the country, now that links between early literacy gains and later school success have been clearly documented.
But Edward's tutor was not in the classroom. His school, a 20-minute walk from the nearest subway stop in a crime-plagued neighborhood, has long had trouble finding tutors willing to visit. "It is hard to get anyone to volunteer," said the school's principal, Luis Torres, who sometimes cancels fire drills because of the gunfire he hears outside.
The state could more aggressively intervene in the lowest-performing publicly funded schools under a proposed accountability system unveiled Monday.DPI's Initial Draft Full Waiver Proposal (2.5MB PDF):
The system would rate schools on a scale of 0 to 100 based on student performance and growth on state tests, closing achievement gaps and preparing students for college and careers. Ratings also would be tied to dropout rates and third-grade literacy levels.
The http://dpi.state.wi.us/esea/pdf/eseawaiver_coverletter.pdf">http://dpi.state.wi.us/esea/index.html">Department of Public Instruction released a draft application to the U.S. Education Department for a waiver from the 10-year-old federal No Child Left Behind Act, which State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers said "has shackled schools by being overly prescriptive and prohibiting creative reforms."
"Wisconsin's request for flexibility from NCLB is driven by the belief that increasing rigor across the standards, assessment and accountability system will result in improved instruction and improved student outcomes," Evers said
Raising Expectations, Increasing Rigor
As noted in Principle 1, DPI has significantly raised expectations for schools and the proportion of students who graduate ready for college and career, as indicated by the adoption of rigorous academic standards, higher cut scores based on NAEP as the state transitions to SBAC, increasingly rigorous and adaptive assessment systems, and increased graduation requirements. The new accountability report card and the new system of support, rewards, and recognition will reflect these new expectations. While the state has previously emphasized graduation rates (and boasted one of the highest in the nation), DPI also recognizes the state has significant achievement and graduation gaps. The accountability index prioritizes achievement and attainment using measures which emphasize not only graduation, but also the proportion of students graduating college and career ready. Additionally, the system examines achievement gaps within and across schools as a means to address the state's existing gaps. Using a multifaceted index will help pinpoint areas of need within a school, as well as areas of strength, and help schools track their progress at meeting the needs of all student subgroups. Within the system of support, identified schools will participate in diagnostic reviews and needs assessments (Priority and Focus Schools, respectively) to identify their instructional policies, practices, and programming that have impacted student outcomes and to differentiate, and individualize reforms and interventions. While planning and implementing reforms, schools and districts will have access to increasingly expansive and timely data systems to monitor progress. Additionally, the state will require Priority and Focus Schools to implement RtI (with the support of the Wisconsin RtI Center and its resources) to ensure that all students are receiving customized, differentiated services within a least restrictive environment, including additional supports and interventions for SwDs and ELLs as needed, or extension activities and additional challenge for students exceeding benchmarks.
Seat 1 Candidates:
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
Seat 2 Candidates:
via a kind reader. It is great to see competitive races.
Last week, I went to a Spokane Public Schools math presentation at Indian Trail Elementary School. It was billed as a forum in the school newsletter and on the reader board outside of the school. It was not, in any way, a forum. It was a tightly controlled 20-minute presentation that offered no data, little information, allowed for no parent input and was patronizing in tone.Related: Math Forum audio & video.
At one point, parents were asked to define math to the person next to us. (The principal said he would not offer his definition.) We also were told to describe to our neighbor a math experience we'd had. These conversations ended right there, thus being pointless. We watched a video of several small children talking about the importance of math. The kids were cute, but the video was long. It was made clear to us that math is hard, parents don't get it (see slide 7 of the presentation), "traditional math" is no longer useful, and math is intimidating to all. Printed materials reinforced the idea of parent incompetence, with students supposedly "taking the lead" and teaching their parents.
Parents were warned to stay positive about math, however, despite our supposed fear and lack of skill, and we also were told what a "balanced" program looks like - as if that's what Spokane actually has.
ALEC's 17th edition of the Report Card on American Education contains a comprehensive overview of educational achievement levels (performance and gains for low-income students) for the 50 states and the District of Columbia (see full report for complete methodology). The Report Card details what education policies states currently have in place and provides a roadmap for legislators to follow to bring about educational excellence in their state.Wisconsin ranks 19th.
Focusing on the reforms recently enacted in Indiana, and with a foreword by Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, this Report Card on American Education examines the experiences other states can learn from the struggles and triumps in Indiana.
Authors Dr. Matthew Ladner and Dan Lips analyze student scores, looking at both performance as well as how scores have improved over recent years. Additionally, each state is graded based on its current education policies.
This is the status of Minnesota's public pension fund obligation. And it may be optimistic.
You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you're going," Yogi Berra once famously said. "Because you might not get there."
Berra's characteristically unique advice is worth keeping in mind for anyone addressing the issue of public pensions.
Lots of uncertainty, to say the least, comes into play in guaranteeing lifetime retirement incomes for hundreds of thousands of Minnesota public employees -- past, present and future. And wherever we do arrive in this effort will have profound implications for government employees and taxpayers, and for the future of public services in our state.
According to the latest data on the condition of Minnesota's public pension funds, the bleeding has stopped but there is still considerable work to do.
As of last summer, the three major statewide pension plans that provide pensions for the bulk of Minnesota's public employees -- the Minnesota State Retirement System for state workers, the Public Employees Retirement Association for local workers and the Teachers Retirement Association for teachers -- were, altogether, $10.5 billion short of meeting their long-term obligations.
Value added" or "VA" refers to the use of statistical techniques to measure teachers' impacts on their students' standardized test scores, controlling for such student characteristics as prior years' scores, gender, ethnicity, disability, and low-income status.Much more on value added assessment, here.
Reports on a massive new study that seem to affirm the use of the technique have recently been splashed across the media and chewed over in the blogosphere. Further from the limelight, developments in Wisconsin seem to ensure that in the coming years value-added analyses will play an increasingly important role in teacher evaluations across the state. Assuming the analyses are performed and applied sensibly, this is a positive development for student learning.
The Chetty Study
Since the first article touting its findings was published on the front page of the January 6 New York Times, a new research study by three economists assessing the value-added contributions of elementary school teachers and their long-term impact on their students' lives - referred to as the Chetty article after the lead author - has created as much of a stir as could ever be expected for a dense academic study.
It is important to note that the Madison School District's value added assessment initiative is based on the oft-criticized WKCE.
Like it or not, sports is a business. From big-time professional leagues like the National Football League to local high school action, sports have been a reliable revenue stream for decades.
At the college level, successful athletic programs have paid dividends for their schools by generating cash. Sporting events boost local economies in tourist dollars, money spent at bars, restaurants and hotels, and of course tax revenue for local government.
It's the fight over local business and tax revenue that has become the real center stage in a battle over tournament scheduling and the location of tournaments that is raging between the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Athletic Department and the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association, which officiates high school sports in the Badger State. At issue is where the boys and girls state basketball tournaments will play in 2013 and beyond.
Eliminating high school athletics during a school year is unusual, especially in a sports-loving state such as Texas.
But that's exactly what's happening in this small ranching community where the school district is taking desperate measures to prevent a state-mandated closure due to poor academics.
The Premont Independent School District is even deploying its superintendent, a constable and high school principal to the homes of truant students in an effort to improve dismal attendance.
Missouri lawmakers are facing increasing pressure to deal with a potential flood of student transfers stemming from the loss of accreditation in urban school districts like Kansas City's.
But looming over this year's legislative session is a pledge by House Speaker Steve Tilley, a Perryville Republican, that any plan to deal with school transfers to suburban districts, or adjustments to the state's school funding formula, be coupled with ideas that have doomed previous reform efforts.
Those include controversial measures such as expanding charter schools, eliminating teacher tenure, basing teacher pay on student achievement and offering tax credit vouchers to parents who want to send children to private schools.
MADISON -- Wisconsin's request for waivers from several provisions of federal education law creates the expectation that every child will graduate ready for college and careers by setting higher standards for students, educators, and schools.
"Education for today's world requires increased rigor and higher expectations," said State Superintendent Tony Evers. "The federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) has shackled schools by being overly prescriptive and prohibiting creative reforms that would help more students gain the skills needed for further education and the workforce. Wisconsin's request for flexibility from NCLB is driven by the belief that increasing rigor across the standards, assessment, and accountability system will result in improved instruction and improved student outcomes."
To receive waivers, state education agencies must demonstrate how they will use flexibility from NCLB requirements to address four principles: transitioning to college- and career-ready standards and assessments; developing systems of differentiated recognition, accountability, and support; evaluating and supporting teacher and principal effectiveness; and reducing duplication. The Department of Public Instruction has posted its draft waiver request online and is asking for public comment through a survey. After the two-week comment period, the agency will revise the waiver request and submit it to the U.S. Department of Education by Feb. 21.
In the world outside public education, people apply for a job they want, interview with their potential boss, compete against other applicants and are ultimately selected if they look like a good fit for the position.
It doesn't work that way in public education.
In schools, teachers do all the normal things to get hired, but when it comes to placement, seniority is what counts, not the perfect fit. The teacher with the longest tenure in a district gets first dibs on any available job at a school, with the principal - the school's boss - getting little or no input.
School district officials in Oakland want to change that, believing that it's in the best interests of students when a teacher - new, veteran or in between - wants to work at a school and the school wants that teacher.
Schools minister Nick Gibb has said he wants to stop schools prioritising their rankings in exam league tables over ensuring a good education for all their pupils.
New league tables for England, out next week, show which schools boost pupils' progress from ages 11 and 16.
Mr Gibb said the old system allowed schools to exploit tables, and some used it to help boost their rankings.
Labour gave the move a cautious welcome.
Kai Ryssdal: However students get their textbooks -- on an iPad or the old-fashioned way -- those books don't do any good unless they're actually used.
There are 37 million people in this country who've started college, who have some credits -- but never finished. When they do that, when they drop out, there are costs -- to them, and to the rest of us, in the billions of dollars, in wasted loans and grants and lost opportunities. Those costs are one reason college dropouts are starting to get more attention from the Obama administration on down.
But finding ways for people to finish their degrees might mean rethinking the way Americans go to college. Emily Hanford of American RadioWorks reports.
The role of poverty in shaping educational outcomes is one of the most common debates going on today. It can also be one of the most shallow.
The debate tends to focus on income. For example (and I'm generalizing a bit here), one "side" argues that income and test scores are strongly correlated; the other "side" points to the fact that many low-income students do very well and cautions against making excuses for schools' failure to help poor kids.
Both arguments have merit, but it bears quickly mentioning that the focus on the relationship between income and achievement is a rather crude conceptualization of the importance of family background (and non-schooling factors in general) for education outcomes. Income is probably among the best widely available proxies for these factors, insofar as it is correlated with many of the conditions that can hinder learning, especially during a child's earliest years. This includes (but is not at all limited to): peer effects; parental education; access to print and background knowledge; parental involvement; family stressors; access to healthcare; and, of course, the quality of neighborhood schools and their teachers.
An extensive review of relevant research has demonstrated that the more physically active schoolchildren are, the better they do academically. Researchers analyzed 14 studies, ranging in size from as few as 50 participants to as many as 12,000.
All of the studies involved children between the ages of 6 and 18.
The most important decision you will make about your children's education is picking their school, right? That's the conventional wisdom, but it's actually wrong -- or at best it's only half-correct. Teacher effectiveness varies a lot within schools, even within good schools, which means that just choosing the right school for your kid is not a proxy for choosing great teachers. So while "school choice" is hotly debated (next week is National School Choice Week, complete with Bill Cosby's blessing and events galore,) there are few rallies being held for giving parents the right to choose a particular teacher. That's because the whole system is stacked against empowering families in this way. In fact, because of how seniority rules generally work, it's a lot more common for teachers to choose their students than for students to choose their teachers.
Just how much individual teachers matter is the big implication of an analysis of 2.5 million students and their instructors that was released in December and highlighted recently in the New York Times. The long-term, large-scale study by economists at Columbia and Harvard used two decades of data to examine differences in student outcomes (including such categories as teen pregnancy and college enrollment) and link those differences with how effective their teachers were at improving student scores on achievement tests. The headline-grabbing finding was that replacing an ineffective teacher with one of average quality would boost a single classroom's lifetime earnings by a quarter-million dollars. And that's just from one year of assigning that group of kids to an average teacher instead of a lousy one. A second study, released January 12 by the Education Trust-West, an education advocacy group in California, examined three years of data on teachers from the Los Angeles public school system and noted that low-income and minority students are twice as likely to have teachers in the bottom 25% of effectiveness. The Ed Trust study did not get as much attention as the one by the Ivy League economists, but it reached the same obvious conclusion: more effective teachers boost learning for students
Charter schools are public schools. Historically, however, the relationship between school districts and charters has been nonexistent at best, antagonistic at worst. As the charter sector continues to grow steadily, an analysis of the national landscape explores how that relationship needs to start changing--and where it already has.
This year's 6th annual edition of Hopes, Fears, & Reality provides a clear roadmap for school districts and charter schools interested in working together to improve education options. The report explains the risks and technical challenges behind charter-district collaboration and provides powerful examples of how they can be overcome.
Emails and direct messages from teachers wanting to vent about the proposed contract between their union and the state have been flowing into my inbox.
Every single one came with a request not to publish the name of the writer. "I just want you to know," they say, of the reason they're writing. The problem with knowing, though, is that you can never un-know. These teachers were sharing thoughts that give deep insight into educators' concerns as they head to the polls Thursday to vote on the new contract.
You might be shocked to learn that some of them said they would prefer abiding with the "last, best and final" offer Gov. Neil Abercrombie imposed on them last July, than take the deal struck earlier this month. They all have their reasons for thinking the way they do about the current agreement. Reasons that deserve to be aired.
So we made a deal of our own. I asked the ones who had contacted me if it would be OK to share their words with our readers -- with the understanding that I will not publish or share names, positions or any information that could betray their identities. We granted them anonymity because they said they feared retaliation and wouldn't share their thoughts otherwise.
There used to be a time when Milwaukee was considered one of the most active education reform cities in the country. The City's private school choice program, the oldest and largest in the country, was our ticket to fame (or infamy, depending on who you ask) through most of the 1990's. The choice program was supposed to be a game changer to public education. It was supposed to set off a chain reaction of innovation and competition that would not only improve the lives of children, but change the way we configured our education policy for the City of Milwaukee. In short, we were going to be the hotbed of the reform movement for decades to come.
Sadly, the game changing education movement we expected didn't come to pass. There is no doubt, however, that the existence of parent choice in Milwaukee has changed the lives of thousands of kids. The movement that created and protected the choice program fostered the development of two of the City's best charter schools and promoted a small sector of independent charters authorizers and schools. Unfortunately, aside from these developments there has been little large-scale reform in Milwaukee since the mid-1990's. Instead of a catalyst, the choice program became a scapegoat for both political parties and many status quo stakeholders. The failing public school district in Milwaukee has been allowed to sink deeper and deeper into the quicksand while union interests and their status quo Democrats blamed the choice program for all the public schools considerable ills. The GOP used the choice program as the be-all-end-all urban education solution, and was happy to let thoughtful public school policy and funding fall by the way side. The independent charter school community put their heads down and tried to stay out of the political fray - they served small pockets of kids very well, but without the ability or the will to take their model to scale. As a result, Milwaukee, not only fell behind, we fell off the map entirely.
It's not the iPhone 5, it's not the iPad 3, but there was a big Apple product announcement today. A new version of its iBooks software geared at providing interactive student textbooks, which would be read -- of course -- on the iPad. The potential hurdles are many, including the fact that iPads still cost around $500.
We wanted to get away from the business case study, though, and explore what this might actually eventually mean in the classroom. So we called Katie Cohen. Until June of last year, she was a high school science teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Katie, thanks for being with us.
Katie Cohen: Thank you very much.
Ryssdal: So listen, in any ideal world, if all of your had had iPads, what would that have meant for you as a teacher?
The move comes 10 months after a USA TODAY investigation found high erasure rates on standardized tests in many District of Columbia public schools, and six months after Georgia's governor released findings of a major investigation that found widespread cheating in Atlanta public schools.
The U.S. Department of Education says it will host a symposium on cheating and publish "best practices" recommendations on how to prevent, detect and respond to cheating in schools.
Companies like Apple "say the challenge in setting up U.S. plants is finding a technical work force," said Martin Schmidt, associate provost at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In particular, companies say they need engineers with more than high school, but not necessarily a bachelor's degree. Americans at that skill level are hard to find, executives contend. "They're good jobs, but the country doesn't have enough to feed the demand," Mr. Schmidt said.Well worth considering from a curricular, finance and social perspective.
Some aspects of the iPhone are uniquely American. The device's software, for instance, and its innovative marketing campaigns were largely created in the United States. Apple recently built a $500 million data center in North Carolina. Crucial semiconductors inside the iPhone 4 and 4S are manufactured in an Austin, Tex., factory by Samsung, of South Korea.
But even those facilities are not enormous sources of jobs. Apple's North Carolina center, for instance, has only 100 full-time employees. The Samsung plant has an estimated 2,400 workers.
"We shouldn't be criticized for using Chinese workers," a current Apple executive said. "The U.S. has stopped producing people with the skills we need."
Pilot study finds students in Riverside Unified School District who used Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's HMH Fuse™: Algebra 1 app were also more motivated, attentive, and engaged than traditionally educated peers.Christina Bonnington has more.
Global education leader Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) today announced the results of a yearlong pilot of HMH Fuse: Algebra I, the world's first full-curriculum Algebra app developed exclusively for the Apple iPad, involving the Amelia Earhart Middle School in California's Riverside Unified School District. The pilot showed that over 78 percent of HMH Fuse users scored Proficient or Advanced on the spring 2011 California Standards Tests, compared with only 59 percent of their textbook-using peers.
The pilot showed that over 78 percent of HMH Fuse users scored Proficient or Advanced on the spring 2011 California Standards Tests, compared with only 59 percent of their textbook-using peers."
The first assessment of the pilot-- Riverside's district Algebra benchmark -took place during the second trimester of the 2010-2011 year. Students using HMH Fuse scored an average of 10 percentage points higher than their peers. The app's impact was even more pronounced after the California Standards Test in spring 2011, on which HMH Fuse students scored approximately 20 percent higher than their textbook-using peers.
"Student responsibility is the third rail of the accountability movement." Walt Gardner
If Mr. Gardner is correct, then is that why have we decided to leave student effort and their responsibility for their own learning and academic achievement out of our considerations of the reasons for such results as the 2010 NAEP history exam, which found that fifty-five percent of our high school seniors scored Below Basic?
Japan, South Korea and Singapore are quite forthright in their views that students must work hard, even very hard, in order to do well in their studies. (see Surpassing Shanghai, Harvard 2011, edited by Marc Tucker).
For our part, just about everyone, from journalists to legislators to edupundits of all sorts and degrees, holds everyone else responsible for student academic failure here. They blame legislation, governors, school boards, superintendents, unions, teachers and all other adults working in education, but they never seem to include student responsibility and effort into their calculations.
Anyone who suggests students may have a part to play in whether they learn anything or not risk being called racists, or supporters of poverty, or prejudiced against immigrants and those whose primary language is other than English.
Immigrants have been coming to this country, learning English, and doing well since the earliest days of our country, but lately we seem to enjoy pretending that these tasks are something new and the burden must be place on all the adults in our educational systems to make things easier. They may not realize that Albert Shanker spoke only Yiddish when he entered the New York public schools, and they conveniently ignore the children of Vietnamese boat people, and many others, some of whom come to this country knowing no English and before long are valedictorians of their high school graduating classes.
Of course it is nearly impossible to create educators without compassion, sympathy, even pity as part of their make-up, but at some point making excuses for students who are not trying and making an effort to lift all responsibility from their shoulders turns out to be cruelty of another kind.
Martin Luther King never said that minority children should not be asked to take their share of the load in becoming educated citizens, just that they have a fair chance, and perhaps some extra help.
In fact, some of those who once believed that discrimination and racism could account for the failure of African-American children in our schools began before too long to have difficulty reconciling those notions with the manifest academic success of too many Asian-American children, some of whose parents had been interned in this country, some of whom came here with no knowledge of the country or the language, and often from an even longer history of oppression and discrimination behind them (e.g. the Japanese Burakumin immigrants).
It is interesting that when American black athletes achieve unprecedented success and achievement and multi-million-dollar salaries, no one rushes to explain that result as the outcome of centuries of unpaid labor, rampant racism and discrimination. For some reason it is acceptable to expect, and common to find, outstanding effort and achievement among black athletes, but it is not thought suitable to expect serious academic effort from black students in our schools.
If coaches thought all the effort in sports was their job, and expected nearly nothing from their athletes, we might see the same failure in sports that we have in academics. And we would find that most athletes were less inclined to try their hardest and to take responsibility for their effort and success in sports.
As long as we put all the onus on adults in our education systems, we deprive our students of all kinds of the challenges they need, as we try to disguise from them the fact that their achievement will always in life depend mostly on their own efforts for which they alone have to take the responsibility.
Call me names, if that makes you feel better, but all our students are waiting to be treated more like the responsible human beings they, in fact, are.
"Teach by Example"
Will Fitzhugh [founder]
The Concord Review 
Ralph Waldo Emerson Prizes 
National Writing Board 
TCR Institute 
730 Boston Post Road, Suite 24
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Ruth Heuer RTI International, Stephanie Stullich U.S. Department of Education:
Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) requires that, taken as a whole, services provided in Title I schools from state and local funds be at least comparable to those provided in non-Title I schools (Section 1120A). The purpose of this comparability requirement is to ensure that federal assistance is providing additional resources in high-need schools rather than compensating for an inequitable distribution of funds that benefits more affluent schools. The Title I comparability requirement allows school districts to demonstrate compliance in a number of ways, including through a district-wide salary schedule, and does not require districts to use school-level expenditures. Several recent policy reports have called for revising the Title I comparability provision to require comparability of actual school-level expenditures (Hall and Ushomirsky, 2010; Miller, 2010; Luebchow, 2009; Roza, 2008).
Until recently, data on school-level expenditures have not been widely available, in part because most school districts have not designed their accounting systems to track revenues and expenditures at the school level. However, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) required each school district receiving Title I, Part A, ARRA funds to report a school-by- school listing of per-pupil education expenditures from state and local funds for the 2008-09 school year to its state education agency and required states to report these data to the U.S. Department of Education.
This report from the Study of School-Level Expenditures presents findings on how state and local education expenditures at the school level vary within school districts. This study is not examining compliance with the current Title I comparability requirement, nor does it examine the comparability of resources between districts. Rather, it focuses on the question of whether Title I schools and higher-poverty schools have comparable levels of per-pupil expenditures as non-Title I schools and lower-poverty schools within the same district. More specifically, this report examines three questions:
A chart from the January 9, 2012 edition of WISTAX's Focus. One wonders how long this can be sustained.
Throughout my years of being an educator in a traditional school setting, the most challenging aspect has been dealing with the adults, not the students. My views were often those of the minority and consistently clashed with the culture of failure that had been developed over the decades.
One opinion of mine in particular that seldom receives little to no kudos, and is often met with anger and opposition, is that our children do not need sympathy. And when it came to school work, believe me, I gave very little sympathy, if any at all.
"So harsh," one might say. Well, I have been regularly accused of being unfeeling, insensitive and even heartless. Nevertheless, my students were successful for the most part.
They passed because they knew the material, not because I felt sorry for them. In my classroom, I refused to allow feelings of sympathy to override my charge as an educator. It was my duty to educate students to the best of my ability, regardless of their race, culture, socioeconomic status or family or living situation. My standards were high, and I expected my students to rise to the occasion.
Basic InformationMuch more on the "Phoenix Program", here.
The Phoenix program began serving students in the fall of 2010-11. The Phoenix program was housed in the Doyle Administration Building
During this school year the program served
35 middle school students and
33 high school students
28 middle school students progressed through the Phoenix program and returned to an MMSD educational environment
24 high school students progressed through the Phoenix program and returned to an MMSD educational environment
7 middle students were expelled from the Phoenix program due to behavioral issues 9 high students were expelled from the Phoenix program due to behavioral issues
The first year the curriculum consisted of on-line academics supported by additional resource material.
Each quarter a student could receive up to a .25 credit in Community Service, Career Planning, English, Writing, Math, Physical Education, Science, Social Studies
The program's partnership with community FACE and district PBST staff allowed the students to participate in social emotional skill development forty-five hours per week.
P.S. This Madison School District document includes a header that I've not seen before: "Innovative Education". I also noticed that the District (or someone) placed a billboard on the Beltline marketing Cherokee Middle School's Arts education.
Nearly a quarter of the changes seen in a person's intelligence level over the course of a lifetime may be the result of genetic factors, an innovative genetic analysis has shown.
The study, published in the journal Nature, suggests that genes may partly explain why some people's brains age better than others, even though environmental factors are likely to play a greater role over a person's lifetime.
The quest to understand the factors behind healthy mental aging has become an increasingly vital one for societies with large elderly populations. However, it isn't an easy task. Traditional methods of estimating the influence of genes have been limited by comparisons between related groups, such as identical or fraternal twins, rather than people unrelated by birth.
In Buffalo, New York, the heart of the American rust-belt, the public school system pays for its teachers to get plastic surgery. Hair removal. Miscrodermabrasian. Liposuction. If you can name the procedure, it's probably covered.
No, I am not exaggerating. And no, this article is not an excuse to make "Hot For Teacher" cracks. When I write that Buffalo's school system pays, I mean it literally. The perk is included as a self-insured rider in its teachers' contract. Therefore, the district has to cover the cost of each nip and tuck itself. There's no co-pay, so the school district ends up footing the entire bill. It estimates the current annual cost at $5.2 million, down from $9 million in 2009.
This in a city where the average teacher makes roughly $52,000 a year. The plastic surgery tab would pay salaries for 100 extra educators.
s The Buffalo News has reported, the rider existed for years with little notice. It dates back at least to the 1970s, when "getting a little work done" wasn't par for the course among women (and some men) of a certain age. Instead, it was intended to cover serious reconstructive surgery, on burn victims, for instance. In 1996, the rider was nearly cut. But after the daughter of a district employee was hurled through a windshield during a car wreck, requiring surgery to repair scars on her face and body, union officials lobbied to keep the benefit in place.
I see a lot of support among the District leadership for clear job descriptions and duties for everyone in the District - everyone, that is, except the District leadership. Each Board member will acknowledge that the Board has the duty to enforce policy yet no Board member will allow that duty to be explicitly stated in any document. It does not appear in the newly adopted Series 1000 Policies. It does not appear in the policy that describes the duties of the Board. It does not appear in the policy on governance. Now the Board is going to adopt two more elements of Board policy that should mention this duty yet fail to do so.
The board policy preamble on the Board meeting agenda this week is an ideal place for it, but instead the preamble makes reference to it only vaguely and euphemistically as "governance tools". It says that policies can be used by the superintendent to hold staff accountable but it neglects to say that they can be used by the Board to hold the superintendent accountable.
Before a crowd of hundreds of school district officials and school board members in Milwaukee, Gov. Scott Walker announced Thursday that recommendations from a variety of state education task forces will soon be solidified in formal legislation.Matthew DeFour:
The work of three main groups spearheaded by Walker over the past year - a reading task force, a team that's looked at how to design a statewide teacher and principal evaluation system, and a group figuring out how to rate school quality - will make up a reform package of education legislation, Walker said.
Meanwhile, some critics questioned the governor's tone of collaboration and cooperation Thursday, saying that after cutting education spending and limiting collective bargaining, he's trying to play nice now only because he's likely facing a recall election.
Even state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers, who has worked closely with Walker on the task forces and praised the work of those involved, made it clear he was concerned about being left out of the legislation-drafting process.
The proposed legislative reforms have been developed over the past year by three statewide task forces working separately on improving literacy, developing a teacher evaluation model and creating a school accountability system to replace No Child Left Behind.Much more on the Read to Lead Task Force, here.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers, who helped lead all three groups, said he wasn't involved in drafting the education legislation, but would support any actions that are the direct product of the task forces "and deliver on the intent of these collaborative groups."
"Many students' schools are already planning for more budget cuts next year on top of cuts made this year," Evers said in a statement. "Education reforms must be fully funded and not simply be more unfunded mandates that result in further cuts to educational programming for our students."
Rep. Sondy Pope-Roberts, D-Middleton, ranking Democrat on the Assembly Education Committee, said in a statement she has concerns the work of the task forces was "being hijacked for political gain."
"It is unnerving to hear that (Evers) was not consulted during the drafting of this legislation," Pope-Roberts said. "Cutting our state's foremost education experts out of the process at this time is very shortsighted and reckless."
Online education will turn the academy inside out, argue US authors. Sarah Cunnane reports
Graduation rates in the US have fallen, and states have slashed funding for higher education. As a result, public universities have raised tuition fees, and many are struggling to stay afloat during the recession. But two authors working in the US higher education sector claim that the academy has a bigger battle on the horizon: the "disruptive innovation" ushered in by online education.
This disruption, they say, will force down costs, lure prospective students away from traditional "core" universities, transform the way academics work, and spell the end for the traditional scholarly calendar based around face-to-face teaching.
Clayton M. Christensen, the Kim B. Clark professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, and Henry J. Eyring, advancement vice-president at Brigham Young University-Idaho, outline their ideas in The Innovative University: Changing the DNA of Higher Education from the Inside Out.
Renewing his call for passage of a vouchers pilot program, the Opportunity Scholarship Act, the governor drilled into his education reform proposals for government cost-savings.
"Let's face it: more money does not necessarily lead to a better education," Christie said. "Today, in Newark, we spend $23,000 per student for instruction and services. But only 23% of ninth graders who enter high school this year will receive high school diplomas in four years. Asbury Park is similar: per pupil costs, at almost $30,000 a year, are nearly 75% above the state average. But the dropout rate is almost 10 times the state average. And math S.A.T. scores lag the state average by 180 points.
"It is time to admit that the Supreme Court's grand experiment with New Jersey children is a failure," the Governor added. "63% of state aid over the years has gone to the Abbott Districts and the schools are still predominantly failing. What we've been doing isn't working for children in failing districts, it is unfair to the other 557 school districts and to our state's taxpayers, who spend more per pupil than almost any state in America."
Over the past three decades the world has come to witness an ominous and entirely new form of gender discrimination: sex-selective feticide, implemented through the practice of surgical abortion with the assistance of information gained through prenatal gender determination technology. All around the world, the victims of this new practice are overwhelmingly female -- in fact, almost universally female. The practice has become so ruthlessly routine in many contemporary societies that it has impacted their very population structures, warping the balance between male and female births and consequently skewing the sex ratios for the rising generation toward a biologically unnatural excess of males. This still-growing international predilection for sex-selective abortion is by now evident in the demographic contours of dozens of countries around the globe -- and it is sufficiently severe that it has come to alter the overall sex ratio at birth of the entire planet, resulting in millions upon millions of new "missing baby girls" each year. In terms of its sheer toll in human numbers, sex-selective abortion has assumed a scale tantamount to a global war against baby girls.
In recent decades, key sectors of the American economy have experienced huge and disruptive transformations -- shifts that have ultimately yielded beneficial changes to the way producers and customers do business together. From the deregulation that brought about the end of AT&T's "Ma Bell" system, to the way entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs forever changed the computer world once dominated by IBM, to the way the internet and bloggers have upended the business model of traditional newspapers, we have seen industries completely remade -- often in wholly unexpected ways. In hindsight, such transformations seem to have been inevitable; at the time, however, most leaders in these fields never saw the changes coming.
The higher-education industry is on the verge of such a transformative re-alignment. Many Americans agree that a four-year degree is vastly overpriced -- keeping many people out of the market -- and are increasingly questioning the value of what many colleges teach. Nevertheless, for those who seek a certain level of economic security or advancement, a four-year degree is absolutely necessary. Clearly, this is a situation primed for change. In as little as a decade, most colleges and universities could look very different from their present forms -- with the cost of a college credential plummeting even as the quality of instruction rises.
It happens more often than you'd think, but it needs to happen more often than it does," says Mark A. Elgart, president and CEO of AdvancED, a private Atlanta-based accreditation agency that works with about 30,000 schools. In the past five years, the organization has pulled accreditation on four school systems and a dozen private schools, for reasons ranging from poor academic performance to governance to financial fraud.
"It's become more rigorous," says Terry Holliday, commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Education. "I think there was a time accreditation just meant you had a certain number of library books and staff." Now, he says, "accreditation does look at outcomes."
Accreditation, sort of a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for schools, matters to districts because losing it can lead to a state takeover or an exodus of students. For individual high schools, it can mean that students lose a competitive edge as they apply to college.
Just when all signs indicated that supporters of Madison Preparatory Academy were abandoning hope of joining forces with the Madison school district, they've decided to give it one more shot. They're seeking another vote on the controversial charter-school proposal in late February.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Urban League of Greater Madison CEO and president Kaleem Caire says Madison Prep will open this fall as a private entity, but hopes it will transition into the district in 2013, once the district's union contract expires.
Board members who voted against the charter school in December expressed concerns that it would put the district in breach of its contract with Madison Teachers Inc., due to a provision requiring district schools to hire union staff.
School board president James Howard, who voted for Madison Prep, says the board may not have time to address the proposal in February.
Whether the Urban League -- which proposed Madison Prep as an ambitious step toward closing the district's decades-old achievement gap -- can recapture its earlier momentum is uncertain, considering that Superintendent Dan Nerad and school board members seem particularly excited about their own plans to address the issue.
"We're going at it from so many different angles right now," says board member Beth Moss. "I can't see how we can't make some improvement."
We produced the above piece for PBS NewsHour in November of 2011; the focus was on new school choice initiatives in Indiana and the backlash they're receiving. School choice remains a major issue in education as 2012 begins, so we wanted to convene several experts for a discussion on the topic. Feel free to add your own comments below, as well.
Apple's controversial license terms are discussed here.
When Gov. Bobby Jindal pushed through New Orleans' school voucher program four years ago, political interest in using taxpayer money to send students to private schools had waned across the country. School choice advocates had suffered several stinging defeats, causing some to throw their weight behind charter schools, which generally receive more bipartisan support.
In 2009, St. Joan of Arc School in New Orleans had more than 80 students receiving vouchers.
Now, as officials expect Jindal to begin an effort to expand Louisiana's voucher program, the national landscape has changed dramatically.
Although charter schools continue to dwarf vouchers in terms of overall growth, voucher programs have rebounded on the national political and educational scene in the past year. In 2011, more than 30 states introduced bills that would use taxpayer dollars to send children to privately run schools, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. That's up more than 300% from the previous year, when only nine voucher bills were introduced.
Wisconsin's education system ranks 18th in the nation, according to an annual analysis published by Education Week.Much more at wisconsin2.org
The analysis draws on a variety of data, some of which are a couple of years old, so it doesn't reflect changes in the past year under Gov. Scott Walker.
The report rated Wisconsin in six categories: chance for success; K-12 achievement; standards, assessments and accountability; teachers; school finance; and transitions and alignment.
The state scored highest in school finance, ranking ninth nationally. The lowest marks came in standards, assessment and accountability, where Wisconsin ranked 46th.
Last Friday's Capital Times included an article by Jessica Van Egeren on the need to close what DPI spokesman John Johnson and others have deemed the voucher loophole. Van Egeren writes:
"The so-called loophole was inserted into the state budget at the final stage of approval in June by members of the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee. The last-minute language allowed voucher schools to expand from their sole location in Milwaukee to Racine."
It is worth pointing out that the while the language enabling the expansion of school choice to Racine did occur near the end of the budget process, expanding the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP) to Racine was hardly a new concept. A proposal to bring vouchers to Racine was included and passed in the original Assembly version of the 2007-2009 budget (it was eventually removed during the budget process).
It's fair to say that improved teacher evaluation is the cornerstone of most current education reform efforts. Although very few people have disagreed on the need to design and implement new evaluation systems, there has been a great deal of disagreement over how best to do so - specifically with regard to the incorporation of test-based measures of teacher productivity (i.e., value-added and other growth model estimates).
The use of these measures has become a polarizing issue. Opponents tend to adamantly object to any degree of incorporation, while many proponents do not consider new evaluations meaningful unless they include test-based measures as a major element (say, at least 40-50 percent). Despite the air of certainty on both sides, this debate has mostly been proceeding based on speculation. The new evaluations are just getting up and running, and there is virtually no evidence as to their effects under actual high-stakes implementation.
Dr. Bruce Baker has a good blog post up called "NJ Charter School Data Round-Up" in which he compares demographics between NJ charter schools and traditional schools in high-poverty urban areas and considers the policy implications. He discusses problems with scalability, and that charters in cities like Newark "continue to serve student populations that differ dramatically from populations of surrounding schools" when one examines eligibility for free/reduced lunch, special education enrollment, and students still learning English.
The comments to his post are worth pondering.
It was the second week of UNIV 101: University of Phoenix New Student Orientation, and Dr. U. was talking about goals.
"What is goals?" she asked in her melodious Polish accent. There were four of us in UNIV 101, me and Ty and Rob and Junior, and no one seemed quite sure what to make of the question. Thus far there had been little evidence of Socratic irony or indirection holding a prominent place in the pedagogical toolkit here at Phoenix, so if Dr. U. was asking what is goals? then the answer was almost certainly somewhere in the reading. Shuffling through the printouts in front of me, I saw it written at the top of a page: "Simply stated, goals are outcomes an individual wants to achieve in a stated period of time." By then, Ty's hand was already up.
"Goals," he told Dr. U., "are when you have something you want to accomplish in the future."
Wolfram has long been a trusted name in education--as the makers of Mathematica, Wolfram|Alpha, and the Wolfram Demonstrations Project, we've created some of the most dynamic teaching and learning tools available. We are pleased to offer the best of all of our technologies to you here in the Wolfram Education Portal, organized by course. In the portal you'll find a dynamic textbook, lesson plans, widgets, interactive Demonstrations, and more built by Wolfram education experts. You can take a look at the types of materials we offer below, but to get full access to all materials, you need to sign up for a free account.
Time magazine this week has an article about the failure of No Child Left Behind, and it highlights the failure of the Rachel Carson Middle School in Herndon, Virginia, to get the last 5% of its student body to achieve grade-level competence in math and reading. This outcome stems from the failure of the teachers, the principal, the counselors, the special needs teachers, the curriculum coordinators, the reading specialists, the math specialists, the superintendent, the state department of education and its staff, the governor, and, of course, the legislature of the Commonwealth of Virginia. While others, such as the federal government, publishers, professional development specialists and the like might share some of the blame, the first group is to be held mainly responsible for the failure of that 5% of the students at the school in question.
Is anyone left out of this analysis, which is the current analytic wisdom available for all school failures in the United States at present? Some might suggest some responsibility on the part of parents, but there is one group which always is, it seems, held blameless and harmless. The students.
I have heard of a time in this country, and even in some other countries, when, if a student failed in school, the failure was the student's. Indeed, even now in Japan, according to Marc Tucker's Surpassing Shanghai, there is the view that if a student fails academically, it is because he has not worked hard enough.
However, it is no longer possible to entertain the idea that a student is responsible for his or her own learning and academic progress in the United States. We like to think of a student in our schools as if under anesthesia on a classroom operating table, being operated on by our surgeon-teachers who are wholly responsible for the success or failure of the operation. Our passive students can not be held responsible for any part of their own education, because if failure occurs, it cannot be theirs. Our children cannot fail at anything, so if there is failure, as, apparently, there is, it must be ours--that is an axiom of our educational philosophy.
There are consequences that flow from this axiom, of course. Students who fail (my mistake)--students whose academic work is failing, understandably come to believe that the school and the teacher are supposed to "do" education to them, and that they have no responsibility for the outcome--whether they learn anything or not is not their problem.
Of course it is their problem, as they will discover when they go to community college or try to find a job, but we feel it is our duty to keep them from knowing that as long as we can.
Naturally, there is a sense of power and control for educators in accepting all the responsibility for student learning, and a noble sort of martyrdom when, in spite of all our efforts, students fail anyway. But in the process students are deprived of ownership of their own education and their own learning.
It was probably Alfred North Whitehead who wrote that "For an education, a man's books and teachers are but a help, the real work is his." How quaint that idea seems to us, that the student must study or the failure will be his, not ours. How we, as legislators, educational leaders, teachers, etc., would hate to have to give up any of "our" territory of study and learning to mere students. What do they know?
Perhaps this folly will soon run its course. One is permitted to hope. Perhaps we will take another look and see that it is the student who decides whether to come to school or not, whether to pay attention or not, whether to do the homework or not, whether, finally, to take his education seriously or not.
You can tell a born teacher by the earnest way he or she turns to a serious student who has a question, and, yes, "a teacher affects eternity." But as Buddha pointed out 2,500 years ago, the student who makes the most progress "must be anxious to learn." He was a good teacher and affected lots of people, but he knew better than to try to outlaw failure by removing all responsibility for learning from the students themselves, as we have seemed so dumbly determined to try to do in recent years.
For decades, the prevailing wisdom in education was that high self-esteem would lead to high achievement. The theory led to an avalanche of daily affirmations, awards ceremonies and attendance certificates -- but few, if any, academic gains.
Now, an increasing number of teachers are weaning themselves from what some call empty praise. Drawing on psychology and brain research, these educators aim to articulate a more precise, and scientific, vocabulary for praise that will push children to work through mistakes and take on more challenging assignments. Consider teacher Shar Hellie's new approach in Montgomery County.
To get students through the shaky first steps of Spanish grammar, Hellie spent many years trying to boost their confidence. If someone couldn't answer a question easily, she would coach him, whisper the first few words, then follow up with a booming "¡Muy bien!"
Unsurprisingly, the new WPRI report on reforming teacher compensation (authored by yours truly) has some critics. The response from the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC) in today's Journal Sentinel was disappointing, but totally expected. WEAC calls my proposal a distraction. President Mary Bell states it is unfair to administrators who, among other things, do not have time to "develop a system for distributing funds."
Opposition from WEAC to $50 million in new funding for teachers on the grounds that administrators will not have the time to find a way to spend it was a surprise. The real threat of the proposal, I imagine, is that it ties additional funding to school performance, and allows principals in successful schools to manage as they see fit.
Should an engineering degree cost more than a degree in English? Or a degree in education?
The question was posed at a House Education Committee meeting Friday.
On hand for the discussion: University of Florida President Bernie Machen, Florida State University President Eric Barron and state University System Chancellor Frank Brogan.
The topic is timely. Gov. Rick Scott has called on universities to produce more majors in science, technology, engineering and mathematics -- but without extra dollars from the state. Scott's proposed budget does not boost funding for public colleges and universities.
Almost all of us say that as a nation we should work out our differences and unite to solve our problems. But we don't mean it.
Exhibit A is the bad blood between the National Education Association, the nation's largest teacher's union, and Teach for America, the most popular public-service option for graduates of selective colleges.
The NEA has been at odds with TFA since the teacher recruitment program began. NEA leaders dislike the idea, conceived in 1989 by 22-year-old Princeton undergraduate Wendy Kopp, of giving young people selected for academic achievement and ambition just five weeks of summer training before having them teach in some of our lowest-performing urban and rural public schools. TFA's steady growth and rising status at prestigious universities has not soothed NEA's distress.
This is both a national and a local issue. The NEA's national headquarters is in the District. One of the largest contingents of TFA teachers works in the District and Prince George's County.
Rafael Gomez, via a kind email:
Dear Cherokee Staff:
We have an opportunity to have Emergent Spanish for Educators (Jan. to April 2012) The class will take place at Cherokee every Mondays starting Jan. 23 at 3:30 to 5:45 except the session it will be from 3:45 to 4:45.
Calender:1/30, 2/6, 2/13, 2/20 2/27 3/5 3/12 3/ 19 3/26. 4/4 4/11 4/16 4/23 4/30
All participants will get 3 PAC credits. It is 30 hours of instruction.
Description of the course:
This course will provide participants with skills needed to make an easy transition from English only into Emergent Spanish and have fun while doing it. Participants will be assisted to become more comfortable using their Spanish pronunciation, construction of basic statements and conversing in Spanish with instructor and/or participants.All participants will end up with a learning center to continue learning Spanish.
1. Acquire a repertoire o Spanish vocabulary
2. Increase comfort level to use Spanish
3. Increase awareness of culture and language
4. Gain skill to use their learning center.
Ritual:Participants will interact with parents and students who are native Spanish speakers.
If you have any questions, please contact me.
Apple is slated to announce the fruits of its labor on improving the use of technology in education at its special media event on Thursday, January 19. While speculation has so far centered on digital textbooks, sources close to the matter have confirmed to Ars that Apple will announce tools to help create interactive e-books--the "GarageBand for e-books," so to speak--and expand its current platform to distribute them to iPhone and iPad users.
Along with the details we were able to gather from our sources, we also spoke to two experts in the field of digital publishing to get a clearer picture of the significance of what Apple is planning to announce.
So far, Apple has largely embraced the ePub 2 standard for its iBooks platform, though it has added a number of HTML5-based extensions to enable the inclusion of video and audio for some limited interaction. The recently-updated ePub 3 standard obviates the need for these proprietary extensions, which in some cases make iBook-formatted e-books incompatible with other e-reader platforms. Apple is expected to announce support for the ePub 3 standard for iBooks going forward.
Alison Head, who is at the Berkman Center and the Library Information Lab this year, but who is normally based at U of Washington's Info School, is giving a talk called "Modeling the Information-Seeking Process of College Students." (I did a podcast interview with her a couple of months ago.)
Project Information Literacy is a research project that reaches across institutions. They've (Michael Eisenberg co-leads the project) surveyed 11,000 students on 41 US campuses to find out how do students find and use information. They use voluntary samples, not random samples. But, Alison says, the project doesn't claim to be able to generalize to all students; they look at the relationships among different kinds of schools and overall trends. They make special efforts to include community colleges, which are often under-represented in studies of colleges
ON NOVEMBER 10th South Korea went silent. Aircraft were grounded. Offices opened late. Commuters stayed off the roads. The police stood by to deal with emergencies among the students who were taking their university entrance exams that day.
Every year the country comes to a halt on the day of the exams, for it is the most important day in most South Koreans' lives. The single set of multiple-choice tests that students take that day determines their future. Those who score well can enter one of Korea's best universities, which has traditionally guaranteed them a job-for-life as a high-flying bureaucrat or desk warrior at a chaebol (conglomerate). Those who score poorly are doomed to attend a lesser university, or no university at all. They will then have to join a less prestigious firm and, since switching employers is frowned upon, may be stuck there for the rest of their lives. Ticking a few wrong boxes, then, may mean that they are permanently locked out of the upper tier of Korean society.
Making so much depend on an exam has several advantages for Korea. It is efficient: a single set of tests identifies intelligent and diligent teenagers, and launches them into society's fast stream. It is meritocratic: poor but clever Koreans can rise to the top by studying very, very hard. The exam's importance prompts children to pay attention in class and parents to hound them about their homework; and that, in turn, ensures that Korea's educational results are the envy of the world. The country is pretty much the leading nation in the scoring system run by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). In 2009 it came fourth after Shanghai, Singapore and Hong Kong, but those are cities rather than full-sized countries.
My guest here is Gilman Whiting, the creator of the Scholar Identity Model and Scholar Identity Institute out of the Peabody College of Education at Vanderbilt University.
If you'd like to learn more about the Scholar Identity Institute:
It took nearly a year for Dale Kleinert to negotiate his first teachers' contract. When Kleinert started his job as schools superintendent in Moscow, Idaho, the talks were already underway. Then, discussions reached an impasse. There were disagreements over pay and health care costs, and the pace slowed further when first an outside mediator and later a fact-finder didn't render a decision. It wasn't until May of 2011 that Kleinert and his union counterparts finally reached an agreement.
Just before then, while Kleinert and the teachers were still stuck, Republican lawmakers in Boise were finishing work on plans to take away much of the leverage that Idaho teachers had long enjoyed in these kinds of negotiations. So for Kleinert's next round of talks with Moscow's teachers, which began pretty much right after the previous ones wrapped up, the rules were very different.
The state Senate will take up a bill Tuesday to rewrite the open enrollment law governing when students can transfer out of their home district into another district.
The bill would allow students and parents more time to request a move to a district outside their own. It would require students' home districts to share details about any discipline problems with the outside district.
The bill has ping-ponged back and forth between the Senate and Assembly for the last year as the two houses have worked to agree on amendments.
The Senate action will come amid a busy day at the Capitol, with opponents to Walker expected to deliver more than 700,000 signatures seeking to force a recall election against him.
Supporters said the open enrollment bill would help students struggling in one district move into another one where they can thrive. Opponents argue the legislation could harm some school districts by siphoning off students to other districts, including virtual schools that rely on the Internet to help teach students in their own homes.
In my last post, I argued that software will take over many of the tasks doctors do today. And what of education? We find a very similar story of what the popular - and incredibly funny! - TED speaker Sir Ken Robinson calls "a crisis of human resources" (Click here for the RSA talk from the same speaker which has been animated in a highly educational fashion). At the TED 2010 conference, he stated that "we make poor use of our talents." Indeed, in the same way that we misuse the talents and training of doctors, I believe we misuse the talents and training of teachers.Well worth reading.
I want to comment on what I consider a far greater misuse of talent and training: that of our children/students, mostly here talking about high school education. We have focused so much of our education system on children attending primary school, then middle school, then high school, all with the objective of attending university. This is a progression that still remains unchanged and largely unchallenged. Yet, this system is completely linear and, most tragically, unwaveringly standardized not only through instruction methods, but also through testing. Worse, it is mostly what I call "fixed time, variable learning" (the four-year high school) instead of "fixed learning, variable time" to account for individual students' capabilities and status.
Identifying Emerging Trends In Education
There are new key trends that I see emerging in education enabled by advancing technology: namely decentralization and gamification. By understanding these trends, it is much easier to imagine why we won't need teachers or why we can free up today's teachers to be mentors and coaches. Software can free teachers to have more human relationships by giving them the time to be guidance counselors and friends to young kids instead of being lecturers who talk at them. This last possibility is very important--in addition to learning, schools enable critical social development for children through teacher student relationships and interacting with other children--classrooms of peers and teachers provide much more than math lessons. And by freeing up teachers' time, technology can lead to increased social development rather than less as many assume.
Six school districts in Wisconsin - Hartland-Lakeside, Phelps, Oregon, Oshkosh, Beloit and Sparta - have scheduled school referendums for either February or April.
My advice to school officials who want to prevail: encourage high turn-out among voters who cast their ballots at polling places that are actually inside the schools themselves. It, oddly enough, makes a significant difference.
You probably don't believe this. Neither did voters who were part of an extensive study of polling places in Arizona in 2000 when a ballot initiative proposed raising the state sales tax to support education spending.
Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study on what's known as "priming" concluded that voters in school buildings are unaware of the influence of so-called "environmental stimuli." We like to think we're smarter than that. Who wants to admit that their vote was based even in part on whether they were standing in a school hallway or a gym rather than a church or a town hall when they cast their ballot? Are we that easily manipulated?
Naomi Lemberger says the way she takes notes in class helps things stick in her brain. She doesn't use the usual approach (scribble for page after page, then promptly forget - I've been doing it all my life).
In a typical instance, she takes those conventional notes within a box covering the upper right section of a sheet of paper and equal to about half the sheet. In a column on the left side of the paper, she writes down questions or sometimes phrases that her main notes cover. And, after a class or at the end of a unit, she writes in a box across the bottom of the sheet a reflection - basically, a summary of what she thinks she learned. She reviews the overall results, especially when she's preparing for tests. Teachers frequently review her notes.
It's a system called Cornell Notes. It goes back more than half a century and has been used (and often dropped) in many schools, including several in the Milwaukee area.
At Brookfield East, where Lemberger is a junior, Cornell Notes is a key element of the education program - and a key, in the opinion of school leaders and many teachers, to why the already high-performing school has seen an uptick in overall student success in recent years.
School principals then would have discretion over how to use those funds, as long as they go to teachers. Those dollars could be spent on one-time teacher bonuses, teacher development projects or however the principal sees fit. "The idea is to give principals more power and to help them create a culture of success," says Ford.
To be eligible to participate in the program, schools also would have to agree to eliminate the traditional teacher pay schedules that mainly reward longevity on the job.
"The No. 1 goal of public education in everything we do is raising academic achievement," says Ford. "So in the report I propose a framework that takes into account the views of teachers and the existing research on what motivates teachers."
It's certainly an interesting concept. But would it work?
Adam Gamoran, a UW-Madison professor of sociology and educational policy studies, says that while research clearly shows some teachers are much more effective than others, what's not so clear is which attributes these top educators share and whether or not it's even possible to lead them to teaching more effectively with incentives.
Next year, Verona superintendent Dean Gorrell is in line to collect a $50,000 longevity bonus on top of his $140,000 salary.Perhaps, one day soon, teachers will have similar compensation freedom, or maybe, superintendents should operate under a one size fits all approach...
In 2014, Madison superintendent Dan Nerad qualifies for a $37,500 payment for six years of service, which like Gorrell's would be paid into a retirement account. Nerad already receives an annual $10,000 payment into his retirement account, which is separate from his state pension and in addition to a $201,000 yearly salary.
And in 2017, Monona Grove superintendent Craig Gerlach can leave the job with an extra year's salary, currently $150,000, paid into a retirement account over the following five years.
Over the past decade, such perks have been added to some Dane County superintendent contracts, even as, on average, their salary increases outpaced teacher pay hikes, according to data provided by the Department of Public Instruction.
"Any type of payout at that level is clearly going to be an issue from the public's point of view," Dale Knapp, research director at the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance, said of the longevity payouts. "The problem becomes once these start getting into contracts, it becomes competition and then they become more prevalent."
Adding bonus language to superintendent contracts became increasingly popular in recent years as school districts faced state-imposed rules on increasing employee compensation.
I'd rather see teacher freedom of movement, and compensation.
If affirmative action results in minority students at elite schools having much potential but weak preparation, then we may expect minority students to start off behind their majority counterparts and then catch up over time. Indeed, at the private university we analyze, the gap between white and black grade point averages falls by half between the students' freshmen and senior year. However, this convergence masks two effects. First, the variance of grades given falls across time. Hence, shrinkage in the level of the gap may not imply shrinkage in the class rank gap. Second, grading standards differ across courses in different majors. We show that controlling for these two features virtually eliminates any convergence of black/white grades. In fact, black/white gpa convergence is symptomatic of dramatic shifts by blacks from initial interest in the natural sciences, engineering, and economics to majors in the humanities and social sciences. We show that natural science, engineering, and economics courses are more difficult, associated with higher study times, and have harsher grading standards; all of which translate into students with weaker academic backgrounds being less likely to choose these majors. Indeed, we show that accounting for academic background can fully account for differences in switching behaviors across blacks and whites.
In the spring of 2004 the faculty adopted by a two-thirds majority vote a set of simple guidelines regarding the grading of undergraduate academic work. Of all the policies I have overseen in my 10 years as president, this has been the most contentious and misunderstood among students, parents and alumni. With the policy now seven years old, I thought it might be helpful to review its original rationale and update you on its impact on grading at Princeton.
Prior to 2004 there was no policy to guide faculty in awarding grades, and over time two worrisome trends became apparent. First, the percentage of "A" grades for coursework rose over the past four decades, from 30% in the 1970s to 32.5% in the 1980s to 43% in the 1990s and 47% in 2001-04. As much as we like to claim that each new class equals or surpasses the talents of the previous class, this increase was not unique to Princeton, but was happening in many secondary schools, colleges and universities. If left unchecked, grades would soon cease to be a meaningful way to provide feedback to students about their academic progress.
More troubling to me was the fact that the rate of inflation was not uniform throughout the curriculum. As shown in the orange bars in the figure here, "A" grades awarded by departments ranged from 67% at one end of the scale to 35% at the other. The impact of this disparity was clear--students concentrating their academic work in departments at the higher end of the scale had a significant advantage over those at the lower end. This struck many of us as deeply unfair to our students.
Individuals' perceptions of their own level of cognitive ability are expressed through self-estimates. They play an important role in a person's self-concept because they facilitate an understanding of how one's own abilities relate to those of others. People evaluate their own and other persons' abilities all the time, but self-estimates are also used in formal settings, such as, for instance, career counseling. We examine the relationship between self-estimated and psychometrically measured cognitive ability by conducting a random-effects, multilevel meta-analysis including a total of 154 effect sizes reported in 41 published studies. Moderator variables are specified in a mixed-effects model both at the level of the individual effect size and at the study level. The overall relationship is estimated at r = .33. There is significant heterogeneity at both levels (i.e., the true effect sizes vary within and between studies), and the results of the moderator analysis show that the validity of self-estimates is especially enhanced when relative scales with clearly specified comparison groups are used and when numerical ability is assessed rather than general cognitive ability. The assessment of less frequently considered dimensions of cognitive ability (e.g., reasoning speed) significantly decreases the magnitude of the relationship. From a theoretical perspective, Festinger's (1954) theory of social comparison and Lecky's (1945) theory of self- consistency receive empirical support. For practitioners, the assessment of self-estimates appears to provide diagnostic information about a person's self-concept that goes beyond a simple "test-and-tell" approach. This information is potentially relevant for career counselors, personnel recruiters, and teachers.
"Americans don't learn about the world, they don't study world history, other than American history in a very one-sided fashion, and they don't study geography," Brzezinski says. "In that context of widespread ignorance, the ongoing and deliberately fanned fear about the outside world, which is connected with this grandiose war on jihadi terrorism, makes the American public extremely susceptible to extremist appeals." But surely most Americans are tired of overseas adventures, I say. "There is more scepticism," Brzezinski concedes. "But the susceptibility to demagoguery is still there."
Teachers are the most important factor in determining the success of students. No technology, curriculum, or standard can supplant the need for a quality teacher in every classroom. We know children learn differently, we know there is no single recipe for a successful teacher, yet we continue to pay teachers as if they are interchangeable assembly-line workers producing an identical commodity called education.
In a report released this week I propose dumping district-wide lock-step pay schedules that reward only formal education and years on the job in favor of a compensation reform that rewards and motivates teachers in a way conducive to raising the academic achievement. I do not propose a merit pay system that gives bonuses to individual teachers in return for raising test scores.
Why? The track record of such systems can at best be called uneven. Teachers are not uniformly motivated by monetary compensation. Research by UW-Madison professor Allan Odden and others shows teachers value collaboration and student success above other factors. Any reform that does not recognize this is doomed to fail. No less important, students need schools that deliver consistent teacher quality from start to finish so that the work of a good teacher in one grade is not undone by a sub-par teacher the next.
The proposals would allow charter schools in the state, establish a process for failing schools to be taken over by outside organizations and continue an overhaul of the way all teachers and principals are evaluated.
Charters, which are public but independent schools allowed to use unconventional techniques, would be closely monitored by a state board, lawmakers said. Only 50 would be allowed in the state - with no more than 10 new ones authorized each year. Each would be required to adopt a specific plan to serve educationally disadvantaged children.
The evaluations, which would include student test scores and classroom observations, would build on a pilot system already used in several districts in the state, lawmakers said.
Poor performance on the evaluations could lead teachers to lose their tenure, but the focus would be on improvement of teaching methods.
Samantha Garvey has good reason to be the recipient of high fives and congratulations from the faculty and students in the hallways at Brentwood High School.
The 17-year-old senior says she cannot believe that she is one of the semifinalists in the highly prestigious Intel Science Competition, in part because she lives in a Bay Shore homeless shelter with her parents, brother, and twin sisters.
"I am currently homeless. Like I've said, this motivates me to do better. I do well and I pursue my passion because it's what I have and it's a way out, you know, and it'll lead to better things," Garvey told WCBS 880 reporter Sophia Hall.
Minutes after Mayor Bloomberg finished delivering his State of the City address today, reactions started flying about his aggressive slate of education proposals.
The reactions ranged from withering (in the case of UFT President Michael Mulgrew) to bewildered (Ernest Logan, principals union president) to supportive (charter school operator Eva Moskowitz and others whose organizations would benefit from the proposals).
Below, I've compiled the complete set of education-related reactions that dropped into my inbox. I'll add to the list as more reactions roll in.
When asked why he didn't second Ed Hughes' motion at the Dec. 19 meeting to delay the schools' opening until 2013, Howard replied, "We had not discussed the implications of what that means. I think we have time if we're talking about 2013, to make sure we do it correctly, because we don't know what the rules of the game will be in 2013."Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Superintendent Dan Nerad said, "Whether it will move forward I don't know. That depends on whether the motion gets on the floor. I don't have a read on it at this point."
Others aren't as diplomatic. "This is a waste of time and money for all involved," said TJ Mertz, an Edgewood College professor and district watchdog who is among Madison Prep's most ardent critics.
"The votes are not there and will not be there," he continued. "It distracts from the essential work of addressing the real issues of the district, including issues of achievement for students in poverty."
Cecelia Thornton sets up a makeshift classroom at her kitchen table every day after school to tutor her grandchildren in reading and writing with materials she buys at the local thrift store in the Mojave Desert town of Adelanto (San Bernardino County).
The 5- and 6-year-olds, she said, just aren't learning enough in their classes at Desert Trails Elementary School.
That's the key reason why she and a band of other parents and guardians filed a petition Thursday under California's "parent trigger" law to demand reforms at the K-6 school where just 35 percent of pupils last year tested proficient in reading and 46 percent in math.
The Times and a host of other publications heralded last week's new study extolling the lifelong money-earning benefits of having a good primary/middle-school teacher. Oh, yay! Let's do what these economists from the National Bureau of Economic Research suggest, right?
Actually, ugh, no. What economists Raj Chetty and John N. Friedman of Harvard and Jonah Rockoff of Columbia want to do, apparently, is to identify and fire "weaker" teachers, for the sake of a barely perceptible increase in students' "lifetime income." Nobody has actually tried this yet; the report doesn't describe an experiment. It's just the conclusion they draw from their analysis of massive amounts of data gathered from public schools in New York City and cross-referenced against IRS records and the like.
Here's a bit from the summary of the original paper. Note that a "high-VA" ("value-added") teacher is a "good" one--meaning by this, solely, that the teacher in question has succeeded in raising standardized test scores.
Our faltering education system may be the most important threat to our economy and well-being, writes Nicholas D. Kristof, so it's frustrating that the presidential campaign is mostly ignoring the issue. The obvious policy solution is more pay for good teachers, more dismissals for weak teachers.
Suppose your child is about to enter the fourth grade and has been assigned to an excellent teacher. Then the teacher decides to quit. What should you do?
The correct answer? Panic!
Well, not exactly. But a landmark new research paper underscores that the difference between a strong teacher and a weak teacher lasts a lifetime. Having a good fourth-grade teacher makes a student 1.25 percent more likely to go to college, the research suggests, and 1.25 percent less likely to get pregnant as a teenager. Each of the students will go on as an adult to earn, on average, $25,000 more over a lifetime -- or about $700,000 in gains for an average size class -- all attributable to that ace teacher back in the fourth grade. That's right: A great teacher is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to each year's students, just in the extra income they will earn
Leaders of a proposed charter school for low-income minority students said Friday that they expect to have sufficient funding and will open Madison Prep as a private academy next fall but will continue to return to the Madison School Board for approval, starting with a proposed revote in February to make the school a publicly funded charter starting in 2013.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
That would be just weeks before a Madison School Board election in which two Madison Prep supporters are vying for seats.
"We will go back, and we'll go back, and we'll go back until the vote is a yes," said Laura DeRoche-Perez, director of school development at the Urban League of Greater Madison. "That is because we cannot wait."
The prospects for school board approval for the 2013 opening, at least with the current board, appear uncertain after the same board voted against the school opening in 2012 by a 5-2 margin in December. Those who opposed cited the school's plan to use non-union teachers and staff and concerns over the school's accountability to taxpayers and the district and don't appear to have wavered in their opposition.
New Mexico lawmakers are considering a proposal from the Martinez administration to link teacher evaluations to student test scores. This is a crucial element in the overall reform plan offered by Public Education Secretary Hanna Skandera. Not surprisingly, it's proving contentious. It will be a huge topic in the coming 30-day legislative session set to begin Tuesday, Jan. 17.
The Obama administration's education secretary, Arne Duncan, favors eliminating legal barriers to linking student test scores to teacher evaluations. That means student tests could determine tenure, raises and even termination. He talks about it in the Atlantic Monthly article "What Makes a Great Teacher?" which goes into great detail about the efforts of educational researchers to tease out what constitutes excellence in teaching. Are great teachers just hard-wired that way, or can we cultivate them?
Kaleem Caire, via email:
MEDIA ADVISORYMuch more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
For immediate release: January 12, 2012
Contact: Laura DeRoche-Perez
Director of School Development
Urban League of Greater Madison
2222 S. Park St., Suite 200
Madison, WI 53713
Urban League and Madison Prep Boards to Hold Press Conference
Will announce their plans to seek a new vote on authorizing the opening of Madison Prep for 2013
WHAT: Madison Preparatory Academy and the Urban League of Greater Madison will announce their intentions to seek a February 2012 vote by the Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education to authorize Madison Prep to open in the fall of 2013. Three MMSD Board of Education members have already shared their support of the motion.
WHEN: 3:30 pm CST, Friday, January 13
WHERE: Urban League of Greater Madison, 2222 S. Park St., Madison, WI 53713
WHO: Madison Preparatory Academy Board of Directors
Urban League of Greater Madison
For more information, contact Laura DeRoche-Perez, Director of School Development, Urban League of Greater Madison, at email@example.com or 608-729-1230.
Barack Obama has been accused of "class warfare" because he favors closing several tax loopholes -- socialism for the wealthy -- as part of the deficit-cutting process. This is a curious charge: class warfare seems to be a one-way street in American politics. Over the past 30 years, the superwealthy have waged far more effective warfare against the poor and the middle class, via their tools in Congress, than the other way around. How else can one explain the fact that the oil companies, despite elephantine profits, are still subsidized by the federal government? How else can one explain the fact that hedge-fund managers pay lower tax rates than their file clerks? Or that farm subsidies originally meant for family farmers go to huge corporations that hardly need the help?
Actually, there is an additional explanation. Conservatives, like liberals, routinely take advantage of a structural flaw in the modern welfare state: there is no creative destruction when it comes to government programs. Both "liberal" and "conservative" subsidies linger in perpetuity, sometimes metastasizing into embarrassing giveaways. Even the best-intentioned programs are allowed to languish in waste and incompetence. Take, for example, the famed early-education program called Head Start. (See more about the Head Start reform process.)
The idea is, as Newt Gingrich might say, simple liberal social engineering. You take the million or so poorest 3- and 4-year-old children and give them a leg up on socialization and education by providing preschool for them; if it works, it saves money in the long run by producing fewer criminals and welfare recipients -- and more productive citizens. Indeed, Head Start did work well in several pilot programs carefully run by professionals in the 1960s. And so it was "taken to scale," as the wonks say, as part of Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty.
That Kaleem Caire, the charismatic champion of the Madison Preparatory Academy, is frustrated by the proposal's defeat before the Madison School Board last month should surprise no one.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
But the prospect that resentment over the defeat of the proposal runs so deep that it could poison the initiative's future prospects as a private school or public charter -- that's a distressing possibility whose existence is just now emerging.
The proposal for the school by the Urban League of Greater Madison has won many supporters because of the embarrassingly persistent achievement gap between whites and minorities in the Madison School District, but when Caire spoke Monday to Communities United, a community group dedicated to social justice, his passionate appeal to go beyond the district's existing model was laced with anger towards the School Board members who voted down the plan.
Much of the discussion Monday between Caire and a handful of staffers from the Urban League -- where he is president and CEO -- and those at the Communities United meeting centered around the ultra-sensitive topics of race and racism.
Even in that friendly environment (the informal, nonpartisan coalition was already on record in favor of the school), Caire's accusations against school officials were rejected as political spin by a Madison City Council member on hand and criticized as more of the "race card" by an African-American activist who has skirmished with Caire before over Madison Prep. But a Latina parent and activist greeted his words as an apt assessment of the situation in Madison schools.
Take advantage of great dual credit courses at your high school! Many of Minnesota's high schools offer Dual Credit programs that allow qualifying students to earn college credit while still in high school at little or no cost. Dual Credit programs are a great way for high school students to challenge themselves academically, earn college credit, and save time and money. Eligible high school students can choose to participate in the following dual credit programs: Postsecondary Enrollment Options (PSEO),Concurrent Enrollment (CE), Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB).
After more than a decade (and four years behind schedule) Congress finally seems ready to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. For years, critics have complained that the law's focus on test scores offers far too narrow a picture for judging school quality. There is also concern that the "adequate yearly progress," or AYP, formula is too inflexible to diagnose the strengths and weaknesses of schools.
The track record of NCLB also suggests that it hasn't been especially successful in turning around the most troubled schools. In fact, among the 1,200 schools identified for "corrective action" in 2005-06, fully 70 percent were still under an improvement category three years later.
First there were the Little Emperors, the often chubby and spoiled first generation of children born under China's one-child policy. Now the Precious Snowflakes have emerged - a generation so coddled some cannot even tie their own shoelaces.
They are 'Precious Snowflakes', wrapped in cotton wool from day one," said Paul French, the founder of Access Asia, a China-based research company.
"Nothing is ever quite right for them. It is always either too hot or too cold and they are all hypochondriacs. They get immediately stressed out if they ever have to lift a finger," he said.
In a world of smog, toxic food and unsure medical care, middle-class Chinese parents are spending ever-larger sums of money to insulate their children from harm.
Charter schools provide an intriguing opportunity to rethink the role of public schools in preparing students to become informed and engaged participants in the American political system. As public schools of choice, charter schools are freed from many rules and regulations that can inhibit innovation and improvement. They can readily adopt best practices in civic education and encourage (or even mandate) extracurricular activities to enhance civic learning. With their decentralized approach to administration, they can allow parents and students a far greater role in school governance than they would have in traditional public schools.
In exchange for that flexibility, charter schools must define a clear mission and performance outcomes for themselves. In service of their chosen missions, high-performing charters seek to forge a transformative school culture for their students--expressed in slogans on hallway placards, banners, and T-shirts, and heard in chants, ceremonies, and codes of conduct. Successful charters create a culture in which everyone associated with the school is united around a common mission, enabling them to articulate goals and aspirations that might otherwise be hampered by constituency politics and parental objections. Charter school leaders can (and do) speak forthrightly about the need to teach students good social skills, instill among their pupils a sense of community, and encourage students to make positive change in the world.
Congratulations to Ridgefield High School for achieving a four-year graduation rate of 97.2 percent -- among the highest in the state -- with its Class of 2010.
As a whole, high schools in Connecticut improved their four-year graduation rates from 2009 to 2010, the most recent year for which state statistics are available, exceeding 81 percent graduation in four years.
But what happens next for all of those high school graduates?
There continues to be a chasm between the economic realities many families face and the exorbitant cost of college. A quality education is well worth a long-term investment, but not lifetime indentured servitude to a student loan provider.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation just came out with its latest advice for how to improve schools. As the foundation sees it, districts don't have a good sense of who their good and bad teachers are, and need better evaluations. But is this really the problem?
Ever since it abandoned its former educational preoccupation, small schools, the Gates Foundation has hit upon stellar teaching as the key to transforming the nation's schools. It's not exactly a new idea, but it's one worthy of rediscovering.
A Stanford economist named Eric Hanushek has put into numerical terms a concept that most people know with their gut. A New Yorker story on the matter a few years ago summarized his findings: "Students of a very bad teacher will learn, on average, half a year's worth of material in one school year. The students in the class of a very good teacher will learn a year and a half's worth of material."
The quest to harness the power of DNA to develop personalized medicine is on the threshold of a major milestone: the $1,000 genome sequencing.
Life Technologies Corp., a Carlsbad, Calif., genomics company, plans to introduce Tuesday a machine it says will be able to map an individual's entire genetic makeup for $1,000 by the end of this year. Moreover, the machine and accompanying microchip technology, both developed by the company's Ion Torrent unit, will deliver the information in a day, the company says.
Missouri could be the next battleground in a nationwide fight over tougher immigration laws.
State Sen. Will Kraus, a Lee's Summit Republican, is sponsoring a bill that would mandate that all public schools verify the immigration status of enrollees. It also would require law enforcement officers to check immigration status on all stops when they have reasonable cause, and create a state misdemeanor for not carrying proper citizenship documentation.
The U.S. Department of Justice last year sued to block similar laws after they were passed in Alabama and Arizona. Federal judges have blocked implementation of parts of the laws in both states, with the U.S. Supreme Court agreeing to hear arguments on Arizona's law sometime this year.
It's been a few weeks since we posted the questions that the Explainer was either unwilling or unable to answer in 2011. Among this year's batch of imponderables were inquiries like, Are the blind sleepy all the time? and Does anyone ever get a sex change back? We asked our readers to pick the question that most deserved an answer in the Explainer column. Some 10,000 of you were able to register a vote, and the winning question is presented below. But first, the runners-up:
In third place, with 6.6 percent of the total votes, a bit of speculative evolutionary biology: Let's say that a meteor never hits the earth, and dinosaurs continue evolving over all the years human beings have grown into what we are today. What would they be like?
In second place, with 7.5 percent, an inquiry into pharmacokinetics: Why does it take 45 minutes for the pharmacy to get your prescription ready--even when no one else is waiting?
And in first place, with the support of 9.4 percent of our readers, the winner by a landslide and Explainer Question of the Year for 2011:
Click here to watch Sunday's "For the Record" on WISC-TV (Ch. 3) with Neil Heinen. Panelists include State Journal editorial page editor Scott Milfred, Republican insider Brandon Schulz and The Progressive editor Matt Rothschild. They bantered about the recent Iowa caucus results, the U.S. Senate race in Wisconsin, the likely gubernatorial recall and the coming Madison School Board elections, which Milfred argues are likely to decide whether a charter school called Madison Preparatory Academy opens its doors."
A U.S. appeals court is weighing whether Boston College must turn over to criminal investigators recordings from an oral history project about Northern Ireland that could expose embarrassing secrets of the Irish Republican Army's past.
An Irish paper in 2010 quoted Dolours Price as saying she drove Ms. McConville to her killers.
The case suggests new legal hurdles and costs for universities that gather historical records of conflicts around the world.
At the heart of the legal dispute is the unsolved, nearly 40-year-old killing of Jean McConville, a widowed mother abducted in front of her children and murdered by the IRA as a suspected spy for the British government. The IRA has admitted to the murder though the killers never were identified.
It is taken as conventional wisdom that "there aren't any" teachers, administrators, or other people of color and that's why MMSD's staff lacks diversity. According to the document at the link below, people of color are applying. They aren't getting hired. That is happening in many cases because the applicants - even for entry level jobs - are "screened out" because they "lack the qualifications" or have other deficits. Others are referred for interviews but not hired. This is the case from custodians and educational assistants up through principals and high level administrators.
It is true that recruitment must improve for teachers, but I would argue that is about missed opportunities (e.g. job fairs in urban districts undergoing layoffs, continuing to rely on UW-Madison as the largest source of teacher candidates given the lack of diversity in the School of Education, etc.). It also is about entrenched patterns of hiring, that could be changed with high quality leadership.
The decision to post a position as a strongly HR/employment-related position and then hire someone with no experience in those areas is disturbing given the MMSD's track record and the need to make knowledgeable, skillful, and significant change. Indeed, it points to the fundamental problem in diversifying MMSD staff at any level.
There is currently much interest in improving access to high-quality teachers (Clotfelter, Ladd, & Vigdor, 2010; Hanushek, 2007) through improved recruitment and retention. Prior research has shown that it is difficult to retain teachers, particularly in high-poverty schools (Boyd et al., 2011; Ingersoll, 2004). Although there is no one reason for this difficulty, there is some evidence to suggest teachers may leave certain schools or the profession in part because of dissatisfaction with low salaries (Ingersoll, 2001).
Thus, it is possible that by offering teachers financial incentives, whether in the form of alternative compensation systems or standalone bonuses, they would become more satisfied with their jobs and retention would increase. As of yet, however, support for this approach has not been grounded in empirical research.
Denver's Professional Compensation System for Teachers ("ProComp") is one of the most prominent alternative teacher compensation reforms in the nation.* Via a combination of ten financial incentives, ProComp seeks to increase student achievement by motivating teachers to improve their instructional practices and by attracting and retaining high-quality teachers to work in the district.
In a move that qualifies as one of the most ignorant and opportunist positions ever taken by a local politician; the Dumanis Mayoral Campaign announced its "Bold" educational initiative this past Thursday at a press conference. The details of the effort--expanding the school board, creating oversight committees and establishing a bureaucracy within the City government to oversee "liaison" efforts were widely reported in the local news media. Candidate Dumanis got lots of face time on local tv news as her plan was uncritically rolled out to the electorate.
The local press failed to notice that Carmel Valley, where the Dumanis presser was held isn't even in the San Diego Unified School District. The Mayoral candidate appeared blissfully unaware that schools in that area are part of the San Dieguito district as she prattled on about "Leadership, vision and experience are needed to put our schools on a new path because it's clear the path we are on today is the wrong one."
Asked about who she worked with in drafting her plan, Dumanis would only say that she'd consulted with an unnamed group of teachers, parents, students and others interested in reform. It's clear though, that if you look at her list of campaign contributors, the "Bold" plan is largely drawn from the wreckage of the failed San Diegans for Great Schools ballot initiative that, despite receiving over $1 million in donations from a few well heeled "philanthropists", couldn't gather enough signatures to be placed in front of the voters.
The salaries of California State University campus presidents would be capped, and discussions about their pay would be held in public, under a bill being proposed by a state senator frustrated that CSU has been raising executive pay as well as tuition.
The proposal comes months after CSU trustees hired a campus president in San Diego for $400,000 a year - $100,000 more than his predecessor - and at the same meeting that they approved a 12 percent tuition increase.
"It is not reasonable to give $100,000 raises to executive positions, especially when simultaneously raising tuition," said state Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance (Los Angeles County), author of SB755.
The U.S. under-18 population fell between 2010 and 2011, the first time in at least two decades that the country has seen its minor population decline, according to demographers and new Census data.
The U.S. under-18 population was 73,934,272 in July 2011, a decline of 247,000 or 0.3% from July of 2010, according to an analysis of Census data by William H. Frey, a demographer at The Brookings Institution. The child population is still up 2.3% from 2000, largely because of gains made in the early-decade boom years.
The child population is falling because fewer immigrant children are coming across U.S. borders, and because fewer children are being born. Meantime, the so-called millennial generation is moving into adulthood. With fertility rates down, Mr. Frey says "it doesn't look like a youth boom will reverberate anytime soon."
The U.S. minor population fell in the 1970s as well, as baby boomers moved into adulthood and women entered the labor force en masse, delaying families in the process. A large drop in fertility was also behind a decline in minors between 1920 and 1930.
Sometimes it's hard to realize progress when you're caught up in the daily grind. You tend to take for granted where you are since the focus is always on what's next. So, this post is a glance back at where we were a year ago in three priority areas in New Jersey education: tenure reform, leadership at the NJ Department of Education, and the search for Newark Public Schools' superintendent.
1) New Jersey's tenure reform debate
On December 9, 2010, Senator Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex), Chairwoman of the NJ Senate Education Committee, held the state's first-ever hearing on tenure reform. Although conversations on tenure reform today are commonplace in New Jersey, there was no substantive discussion of it before Ruiz's hearing.
Witnesses at the hearing included officials from NJ Department of Education (NJDOE), Colorado state Senator Michael Johnston (sponsor of Colorado's "Great Teachers and Great Leaders" bill - aka SB 191, considered to be one of the strongest teacher evaluation and tenure reform bills in the nation), TNTP's Executive Vice President and General Counsel Daniel Weisberg, and the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), among others. A few highlights from the day's testimony:
JEFFREY BROWN: And finally tonight, putting a price on the value of good teachers. A large and new study addresses just that.
Ray Suarez has the story.
RAY SUAREZ: The debate over testing in schools, and whether students' scores adequately reflect a teacher's performance, has been raging for well over a decade. Now a new study has tracked more than two-and-a-half million students over two decades.
It found test scores are indeed a good gauge for evaluating student performance. And the study found replacing a bad teacher with an average or a good one can translate into a huge economic difference. Combined, the students could earn hundreds of thousands of dollars more over their working lifetimes.
We look at the study and the response it's stirred with Harvard economist Raj Chetty, one of its three authors. And we hope to be joined by Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, the second largest teachers union.
They have the same piercing eyes. The same color hair. One may be shy, while the other loves meeting new people. Discovering why identical twins differ--despite having the same DNA--could reveal a great deal about all of us.
Every summer, on the first weekend in August, thousands of twins converge on Twinsburg, Ohio, a small town southeast of Cleveland named by identical twin brothers nearly two centuries ago.
They come, two by two, for the Twins Days Festival, a three-day marathon of picnics, talent shows, and look-alike contests that has grown into one of the world's largest gatherings of twins.
Dave and Don Wolf of Fenton, Michigan, have been coming to the festival for years. Like most twins who attend, they enjoy spending time with each other. In fact, during the past 18 years, the 53-year-old truckers, whose identical beards reach down to their chests, have driven more than three million miles together, hauling everything from diapers to canned soup from places like Seattle, Washington, to Camden, New Jersey. While one sits at the wheel of their diesel Freightliner, the other snoozes in the bunk behind him. They listen to the same country gospel stations on satellite radio, share the same Tea Party gripes about big government, and munch on the same road diet of pepperoni, apples, and mild cheddar cheese. On their days off they go hunting or fishing together. It's a way of life that suits them.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo picked a fight last week with what has long been Albany's most powerful force: public schools.
In his State of the State address, he accused teachers' unions, school boards and school aid lobbyists of being more interested in adults than children.
"We need major reform," he said Wednesday. "We need to focus on student achievement. ... We've wasted enough time."
In their best Robert DeNiro, they shot back: "You talkin' to me?"
In the balance could hang whether the poorest school districts, mostly in larger cities and in rural areas, will get a larger share of state school aid. That had been the case for most of the past decade after the state's highest court found New York failed to adequately fund education for years. But not last year, in Cuomo's first budget.
This year, 2007, marks the marks the eighth year at which I ceased to be a tenured lecturer in the UK, what is called I think, a tenured professor in the USA. I've never worked out whether I was, in American terms, an assistant professor or an associate professor. But it really doesn't matter, because today I am neither. You see I simply walked out and quit the job. And this is my story. If there is a greater significance to it than the personal fortunes of one man, it is because my story is also the story of the decline and fall of the British university and the corruption of the academic ideal . That is why this essay carries two titles - a personal one and a social one. This is because I was privileged to be part of an historical drama. As the Chinese say, I have lived in interesting times.
Universities are extraordinary institutions. They are in fact, the last bastions of mediaevalism left in modern society outside, perhaps, the church. Like churches they attracted a certain type of person who did not share the values of the commercial world. The oldest universities date from the eleventh and twelfth centuries - hundreds of years before the invention of the printing press. In an age where books were scarce, communication was difficult and people who could read and write were almost as rare as the books, it made sense to centralise the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge. If you wanted to learn, you headed towards where the books were and the people who could read them and that meant the great universities like Paris and Oxford. Poor communication, expensive reading materials and illiteracy were the foundation blocks for the universities. If today we have excellent communications, free online information and general literacy, we also have an environment in which the universities are struggling to maintain their position. That, of course, is not an accident.
This article is third in a series of articles regarding media coverage of public education. This article and its predecessors in the series articulate part of the reason we need a new and better news source.
Instead of discussing the myriad legal and academic issues currently surrounding Spokane Public Schools, the editors for the daily newspaper The Spokesman-Review and the weekly publication The Inlander seem determined to drum up stray rumors and unsupported accusations against AP English teacher Jennifer Walther, who perhaps was caught TWC (Teaching While Conservative).
In October 2011, Walther's Leadership Class at Ferris High School put on the annual political forum "Face-Off at Ferris." Writers for The Spokesman-Review (SR) and The Inlander have since accused Walther of allowing her political views to sway the Ferris forum in favor of mayoral and school board candidates who are thought to be politically conservative.
The accusers have not been able to support their claim by pointing at actual questions that were asked. Sitting at the Ferris forum last October, I heard people all around me saying, "Those are great questions." What does a conservative question even look like? Are only conservatives concerned about accountability, transparency, outcomes, Otto Zehm's death, water rates, union clout and misspent finances? I know plenty of Democrats and progressives who are concerned about these issues.
Over the past few years, due to massive budget deficits, governors, legislators and other elected officials are having to slash education spending. As a result, incredibly, there are at least 30 states in which state funding for 2011 is actually lower than in 2008. In some cases, including California, the amounts are over 20 percent lower.
Only the tiniest slice of Americans believe that we should spend less on education, while a large majority actually supports increased funding. At the same time, however, there's a concerted effort among some advocates, elected officials and others to convince the public that spending more money on education will not improve outcomes, while huge cuts need not do any harm.
Our new report, written by Rutgers professor Bruce Baker and entitled "Revisiting the Age-Old Question: Does Money Matter in Education?" reviews this body of evidence.
California calls its "Academic Performance Index" (API) the "cornerstone" of its accountability system. The API is calculated as a weighted average of the proportions of students meeting proficiency and other cutoffs on the state exams.
It is a high-stakes measure. "Growth" in schools' API scores determines whether they meet federal AYP requirements, and it is also important in the state's own accountability regime. In addition, toward the middle of last month, the California Charter Schools Association called for the closing of ten charter schools based in part on their (three-year) API "growth" rates.
Putting aside the question of whether the API is a valid measure of student performance in any given year, using year-to-year changes in API scores in high-stakes decisions is highly problematic. The API is cross-sectional measure - it doesn't follow students over time - and so one must assume that year-to-year changes in a school's index do not reflect a shift in demographics or other characteristics of the cohorts of students taking the tests. Moreover, even if the changes in API scores do in fact reflect "real" progress, they do not account for all the factors outside of schools' control that might affect performance, such as funding and differences in students' backgrounds (see here and here, or this Mathematica paper, for more on these issues).
Gov. Jerry Brown unveiled his new budget plan, calling for a painful $4.8-billion cut in public school funds if voters reject a proposed tax hike that he hopes to put on the ballot in November.
Despite the possible reduction -- the equivalent of slashing three weeks from the school year -- the spending blueprint Brown released Thursday is a relatively optimistic document. It assumes he will have to close a $9.2-billion deficit, a vast improvement over last year's $26-billion gap.
Half of the deficit would be wiped out through the temporary half-cent sales-tax hike and increased levies on the wealthy that Brown wants voters to approve -- or by the schools cuts. The remainder would be eliminated with reductions in welfare, Medi-Cal and other programs.
School districts and their supporters around the country have launched a wave of lawsuits asking courts to order more spending on public education, contending they face new pressures as states cut billions of dollars of funding while adding more-rigorous educational standards.
About half of the school districts in Texas have sued the state since the legislature cut more than $5 billion from school budgets last year, citing fiscal pressures. School-funding suits also are pending in California, Florida and Kansas, among other states. The suits generally claim schools lack the resources to provide the level of education required by state constitutions.
Critics of such lawsuits--and states being sued--say it is the prerogative of legislatures to decide how much states should spend on education.
In Washington state, the Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the state legislature to come up with a plan for additional funding. Gov. Christine Gregoire, a Democrat, said in a statement she agreed with the ruling, noting that without ample funds it is "difficult for students to gain the skills and knowledge needed to compete in today's global economy."
In the early 20th century Helen Todd, a factory inspector in Chicago, interviewed 500 children working in factories, often in dangerous and unpleasant conditions. She asked children the question: "If your father had a good job and you didn't have to work, which would you rather do--go to school or work in a factory?" 412 said they would choose factory work. One fourteen year old girl, who was interviewed lacquering canes in an attic working with both intense heat and the constant smell of turpentine, said "School is the fiercest thing you can come up against. Factories ain't no cinch, but schools is worst."
The recent expansion of the "ASER-like" simple assessments of literacy and numeracy skills of all children in a village based approach provides an accurate, and chilling, picture of just how little learning is going on inside schools in many poor countries. The ASER data can show the learning profile, the association of measured skills and grade completion, by showing what fraction of children who have completed which grade can read a simple story (expected of a child in grade 2) or do simple arithmetic operations. Take Uttar Pradesh in 2010. By the end of lower primary school (grade 5) only one in four children could divide. Even by grade 8, the end of upper primary only 56 percent could. Similarly, by grade 5 only 44 percent could read a level 2 paragraph and by grade 8 still only 77.6 could. A large plurality of children, even of those that had persisted and been promoted through eight full grades or primary school--roughly 8000 hours of available total instruction--were either illiterate or innumerate or both.
Elementary- and middle-school teachers who help raise their students' standardized-test scores seem to have a wide-ranging, lasting positive effect on those students' lives beyond academics, including lower teenage-pregnancy rates and greater college matriculation and adult earnings, according to a new study that tracked 2.5 million students over 20 years.
The paper, by Raj Chetty and John N. Friedman of Harvard and Jonah E. Rockoff of Columbia, all economists, examines a larger number of students over a longer period of time with more in-depth data than many earlier studies, allowing for a deeper look at how much the quality of individual teachers matters over the long term.
"That test scores help you get more education, and that more education has an earnings effect -- that makes sense to a lot of people," said Robert H. Meyer, director of the Value-Added Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which studies teacher measurement but was not involved in this study. "This study skips the stages, and shows differences in teachers mean differences in earnings."
George Soros's latest multimillion dollar gift to the Central European University Business School underlines the gulf between the Budapest-based private institution and its rivals elsewhere in the region.
"They are unique in the region in having a serious endowment," says the head of a competitor school. "Everybody else has to survive off tuition fees."
Soros, the Hungarian-born billionaire investor founded the business school in 1988, a year before the fall of communism in the country. It does not want for resources - all students will receive an iPad this year, for example - but Mel Horwich, who was appointed dean at the beginning of this year, clearly has a mandate to shake things up.
EIA is proud to present the 2011 Public Education Quotes of the Year, in countdown order. Enjoy!
10) "That's what you're deciding on today - about whether or not you want to inject yourself into the individual, private decisions that employees make about their money." - Kevin Watson, a lobbyist for the Florida Education Association, on a bill in the state legislature that would require unions to get written authorization from members in order to use dues for political purposes. (March 21 Florida Times-Union)
9) "The governor has selected some of the smartest policy thinkers in California. They're experienced, they're thoughtful and they're largely independent minded, with the exception of the CTA staffer." - Bruce Fuller, professor of education at UC Berkeley, commenting on Gov. Brown's appointment of California Teachers Association lobbyist Patricia Ann Rucker to the state board of education. (January 8 Los Angeles Times)
8) "In the 30-some years we were part of the (American Federation of Teachers union), we never had to use their services. There were never any grievances that warranted that. We really - and I'm going to be honest - never really got much out of it." - Becky Seitz, former president of the AFT affiliate in North Cape, Wisconsin. (December 10 Journal-Times)
Some math classrooms are so quiet you can hear the sound of pencils on paper.
Robert MacCarthy's class at Willard Middle School in Berkeley has a different soundtrack. His sixth-graders problem-solve out loud -- sometimes into a big blue microphone -- and applaud each other afterward. They take on lively games and challenges that mix math with art.
Maybe, if they're lucky, they'll get to star in a math music video produced by their teacher and classmates under the label mathisnotacrime productions. "Integer Eyes" is the latest hit. "Math Hustla," released in 2009, quickly became a Willard classic.
"I never met an expression that I couldn't simplify. I never met a problem that I couldn't solve," two students rap, alternating lines, as they move to the beat.
Math can be a tough sell for adolescents. When students hit middle school, they often grow frustrated with math and begin to question the importance of knowing how to isolate a variable or graph an equation. Some end up failing the same courses again and again and eventually drop out of school -- even as their schools devote more time to the subject, said Harold Asturias, director of the Center for Mathematics Excellence and Equity at UC Berkeley's Lawrence Hall of Science.
There's no doubt that the ongoing crisis of governance in California and resulting disinvestment in the University of California system is deplorable. But this recent Washington Post dispatch from UC-Berkeley doesn't exactly paint a picture of a campus in deep crisis:Star faculty take mandatory furloughs. Classes grow perceptibly larger each year. Roofs leak; e-mail crashes. One employee mows the entire campus. Wastebaskets are emptied once a week. Some professors lack telephones...The state share of Berkeley's operating budget has slipped since 1991 from 47 percent to 11 percent. Tuition has doubled in six years, and the university is admitting more students from out of state willing to pay a premium for a Berkeley degree...the number of students for every faculty member has risen from 15 to 17 in five years. Many classes are oversubscribed, leaving students to scramble for alternatives or postpone graduation, a dilemma more commonly associated with community college...Berkeley's overall budget continues to rise modestly from year to year. Total university revenue rose from $1.7 billion in fiscal 2007 to $2 billion in 2010.Reliable email is free and I assume Berkeley professors own cell phones like everyone else. There is not a shred of evidence to suggest that small increases in class size negatively affect learning for the kind of cream-of-the-crop college students who attend Berkeley. Over 90 percent of Berkeley students graduate from the university. If Berkeley's star professors are lured away to Stanford, it's bad for the university but not necessarily bad for America, particularly if (as is frequently the case) those professors teach few if any undergraduates. They'll be the same people doing the same thing at another university an hour away.
Education Insider is a monthly report and webinar that provides real-time insights on federal education policy trends, debates, and issues--from the handful of decision makers that are driving the process.
Trying to follow the ins-and-outs of Federal education reform -- a morass of legislation, regulations, grants, mandates and more -- is like assembling a giant jigsaw puzzle. It is often difficult to see the entire picture when all you have is a few pieces. The challenge is piecing together bits of conversations, speeches, legislation, regulations, and other expressions of policy intent to discern what is happening in the debate. This process is even more complex since other policy issues and political agendas can change the trajectory of education policy.
As with any issue, there are only a handful of insiders that will shape the debate but never before has there been an attempt to tap their collective insights and forecasts.
Organizations must anticipate and react to Federal policy and funding changes need high quality information and analysis and the complete picture that Education Insider provides.
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. 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
California corporate income tax rate (8.84%) is the highest west of the Mississippi (our economic competitors) except for Alaska. http://www.taxfoundation.org/files/bp59.pdf Table #8 - we are 8th highest nationwide.
At universities, educational software largely means enterprise-scale, expensive, feature-stuffed "learning management systems." Blackboard has the majority of the market, but professors and students are about as enthusiastic about its various updates, crashes, and bugs as people are with the latest version of Windows (Blackboard scores a whopping 93% "hated" rating on website Amplicate).
Last week, a new alternative was launched--built by students--that looks and works a lot more like the social platforms people actually choose to use in their spare time. The core of the site is a constantly updated social Stream where instructors and students can conduct discussions or easily post rich media. Picture a cleaner-looking Facebook news feed, centered on a single academic theme, or a group Tumblr blog where each picture, question, or video can accumulate its own discussion in the attached comment thread.
"We wanted to create a simple, elegant LMS that covers 95% of instructors' needs, like grading, file management, calendaring, submitting assignments, and emailing with the class," says Joseph Cohen, 19, who left Wharton after his sophomore year when he scored $1 million in seed funding this past June to start Coursekit. "Blackboard covers 100%-- that's why it's such a cluttered platform."
The Wisconsin adoption of teacher content knowledge requirements, on the form of MTEL 90 (Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure) by 2013-2014 would (will?) be a significant step forward via the Wisconsin Read to Lead Report), assuming it is not watered down like the oft criticized (and rightfully so) WKCE.
Former Glades Central football coach Jessie Hester resigned Thursday as coach at Suncoast after just 10 months at the school.
Hester, 48, said the job at one of Palm Beach County's top academic public schools "wasn't the right fit" for him. The academic pressures the students faced made it difficult for the football team to practice and prepare for games, Hester said, adding that his team would go weeks without a full practice because his players had other school obligations.
The Chargers finished 4-6, missing the playoffs and tying for third in a five-team district.
"There are great, great people at the school, and great kids," Hester said, "but it was just not a good fit for me. It was too difficult to do the things I wanted to do in that situation."
It was no secret that Suncoast, with its nationally ranked academic programs and rigorous academic requirements, would be a more challenging job than Hester's previous job at his alma mater.
When I was young, I read popular physics books such as Richard Feynman's QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter. I knew that light was waves, sound was waves, matter was waves. I took pride in my scientific literacy, when I was nine years old.
When I was older, and I began to read the Feynman Lectures on Physics, I ran across a gem called "the wave equation". I could follow the equation's derivation, but, looking back, I couldn't see its truth at a glance. So I thought about the wave equation for three days, on and off, until I saw that it was embarrassingly obvious. And when I finally understood, I realized that the whole time I had accepted the honest assurance of physicists that light was waves, sound was waves, matter was waves, I had not had the vaguest idea of what the word "wave" meant to a physicist.
There is an instinctive tendency to think that if a physicist says "light is made of waves", and the teacher says "What is light made of?", and the student says "Waves!", the student has made a true statement. That's only fair, right? We accept "waves" as a correct answer from the physicist; wouldn't it be unfair to reject it from the student? Surely, the answer "Waves!" is either true or false, right?
In each of the past five years, IBM has come up with a list of five innovations it believes will become popular within five years. In this, the sixth year, IBM has come up with the following technologies it thinks will gain traction. Hold on to your sci-fi novels, because some of these are pretty far out there. And some of them, well, I wish we had them today.
People power will come to life. Advances in technology will allow us to trap the kinetic energy generated (and wasted) from walking, jogging, bicycling, and even from water flowing through pipes. A bicycle charging your iPhone? There's nothing wrong with that, though I think it might be a while before we see this actually become a mainstream practice.
You will never need a password again. Biometrics will finally replace the password and thus redefine the word "hack." Jokes aside, IBM believes multifactor biometrics will become pervasive. "Biometric data--facial definitions, retinal scans, and voice files--will be composited through software to build your DNA-unique online password." Based on the increasing hours we spend online, I would say we need such solutions to come to market ASAP.
In Madison, the influx of poor people from Chicago is testing the city's historical liberalism. About one-quarter of the 3,300 Madison families receiving welfare are former Illinois residents.my correspondent notes:
Even Mayor Paul Soglin, who earned his liberal stripes in the anti-establishment politics of the 1960s as a Vietnam War protester, now talks of "finite limits of resources" for the poor.
"We're like a lifeboat that holds 12 people comfortably," Mr. Soglin said. "We've got about 16 in it now, and there's a dozen more waiting in the water. Since we're already in danger of going under, what can our community be expected to do?"
A vibrant economy in Wisconsin accounts for much of the migration among poor people, most of them looking for jobs. The state's unemployment rate has dipped below 4 percent while that in Illinois is 4.4 percent.
Here is an interesting article from 1995. Worth revisiting with Soglin back in office (just because he is the mayor quoted at the time), but mostly as it pertains to our discussions around Madison Prep. What are the unique attributes and qualities that make up both our white population and our minority population?
MMSD has now posted the videos from the December 19, 2011 meeting at which the Board of Education voted on the proposed Madison Preparatory Charter School. The first video contains the public appearances statements; the second contains the board comments, vote, etc., through the vote to adjourn.
The versions that are now posted are much improved - the video that was originally posted had issues with sound quality and ended abruptly during board statements. The new videos have terrific sound quality and contain the full meeting. (Thanks to MMSD staff for the work that went into this.)
This article is second in a series of articles regarding media coverage of public education. This article and its predecessor in the series show that Spokesman-Review coverage of the 2011 school-board election in Spokane was biased in favor of a particular candidate and a particular agenda.
On Sept. 28, I filed a Public Disclosure Commission complaint regarding election activity in 2009 and 2011 by Spokane Public Schools administrators, board directors, (new school board director) Deana Brower, and bond and levy advocacy organization Citizens for Spokane Schools (CFSS).
According to Washington State law, articulated in RCW 42.17.130, school district employees and school board directors are prohibited from using public resources to promote - directly or indirectly - elective candidates or ballot propositions such as bonds and levies. This is what RCW 42.17.130 says, in part:
Editor's note: This is the first of three parts.
It has been a great "trip," so to speak, and it isn't over yet. It was 61 years ago when I stepped into my first classroom as the teacher. During these past 61 years, I have thoroughly enjoyed my work as an educator, every day ... well, nearly every day.
Much has happened in education over that period of time. I have seen schools from nearly all levels: from that of a classroom teacher, university demonstration teacher, school administrator, professor of educational administration, and university administrator. I have seen schools from the standpoint of a school board member, a school board trainer, and a parent and grandparent. Also, in the interest of full disclosure, I have seen education vicariously: as many of my readers know, my wife is a retired teacher of 34 years, and my son and daughter-in-law are teachers.
This columnist has a great respect for education and learning. A well known Swiss developmental psychologist and philosopher Jean Piaget said it well: "the principal goal of education is to develop within people the capability of doing new things, not simply of repeating what other generations have done." Piaget's statement is smartly relevant and applicable as applied to all levels of education.
My entry into the field of teaching had its beginning in September, 1951. It was preceded by generations of some of the most conscientious, dedicated, and competent of teachers, many of whom, received little honor or aggrandizement, but whose influence was monumental. The strength of America's school and of America's teachers is seen in the annals of American Exceptionalism.
A fabric cap is fitted to my head and 32 electrodes are inserted into the cap's sockets, each with a dose of conducting gel to make sure there is good contact with my scalp. The final touches are a pair of eye tracking sensors above each eyebrow.
Then the experiment begins, recording brainwaves as I look at film clips with different degrees of violence and romantic engagement. The half-hour session is entirely painless; the apparatus does not irradiate the brain but passively measures its electrical activity at different frequencies to assess my attention, emotional engagement and likely memory retention of each clip. The only after-effect is hair messed up by the gel.
My electroencephalography (EEG) session typifies the experience of hundreds of subjects who have their brains scanned every day in laboratories around the world, in the cause of better marketing. As they look at product prototypes, packaging designs and advertising campaigns, neuromarketing experts read their brainwaves to glean insights into their unconscious likes and dislikes, which might not appear through questioning in conventional market research.
In my hand I have a hefty article on a canonical English poet, published 10 years ago in a distinguished journal. It runs for 21 pages and has 31 footnotes, with extensive references to philosophy and art. The article is learned, wide-ranging, and conversant with scholarship on the poet and theoretical currents in literary studies. The argument is dense, the analysis acute, on its face a worthy illustration of academic study deserving broad notice and integration into subsequent research in the field.
That reception doesn't seem to have happened. When, on May 25, I typed the title into Google Scholar, only nine citations of the original article showed up. Of those nine, six of them make only perfunctory nods in a footnote, along the lines of "Recent examples include ... " and "For a recent essay on the subject, see. ... " The other three engage with the essay more substantively, but not by much, inserting in their text merely two or three sentences on the original essay. Additionally, in books on the English poet published from 2004 to 2011 that don't show up on Google Scholar (the search engine picks up most major humanities journals but is sketchy on books), the original article receives not a single citation.
With a unanimous vote Monday, the State Board of Education approved a tougher scoring system for the FCAT, the state's standardized reading and math exam.Related: Excellence in Education explains Florida's reading reforms and compares Florida's NAEP progress with Wisconsin's at the July 29th Read to Lead task force meeting
The change is meant to raise the academic standards for Florida students. Last year, state officials rolled out the FCAT 2.0, a new version of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. A new scoring system is needed for the new test, state officials have said.
However, many students are expected to score lower under the newly approved grading system, which determines the "cut scores" or the scores that determine failing and passing grades. State officials estimate:
Studies have consistently shown that compared to their white counterparts, minority students are less likely to graduate high school on time or receive any form of higher education, and more likely to drop out of high school.
While some experts point to methods for closing achievement gaps and enhancing the performance of the bottom 5 percent of schools and students by way of legislation and policy, a new report out by the Public Education Network examines the role of the parent.
Whereas just 37 percent of the general public considers schools in their communities -- versus schools in other areas -- as examples of institutions needing reform, about 70 percent of black and Latino parents point to those in their neighborhoods.
Among the "open courseware" projects at elite U.S. institutions, MITx will be the first to offer an institutional credential -- albeit not from MIT proper but from MITx, which will exist as a nonprofit apart from the university. (The Stanford professors who offered an interactive open course in artificial intelligence to all comers in the fall plan to send each non-enrolled student a certifying letter with their cumulative grade and class rank, but Stanford itself is not recognizing them.)
But MIT stamp or no, that is still a big step, says Kevin Carey, policy director at Education Sector, a D.C. think tank.
"I think this is the future," says Carey, who has written on the emerging relevance of nontraditional credentials. "It's just the logical next step for the ethic behind the [open educational resources] movement," he says.
In interviews, MIT officials took care to emphasize that MITx is not meant to supplant the traditional "residential education" that the university cultivates in its Cambridge, Mass., enclave.
Kimberly Lynch, a redhead with freckles, had a keen interest in sunblock. So much so that she spent the past year developing a new method to test the effectiveness of sunscreens and recently submitted the results to a medical journal.View Bloomberg Business Week's "great schools" state by state rankings, here.
The 17-year-old senior at Bergen Academies in Hackensack, N.J., is quite a bit younger than most scientists submitting papers to accredited medical journals. Then again, Lynch doesn't go to a typical public high school.
Bergen Academies, a four-year high school, offers students seven concentrations including science, medicine, culinary arts, business and finance, and engineering. It even has its own stem-cell laboratory, where Lynch completed her experiments under the guidance of biology teacher Robert Pergolizzi, a former assistant professor of genetic medicine at Cornell University.
WASHINGTON -- During her first six years of teaching in this city's struggling schools, Tiffany Johnson got a series of small raises that brought her annual salary to $63,000, from about $50,000. This year, her seventh, Ms. Johnson earns $87,000.
That latest 38 percent jump, unheard of in public education, came after Ms. Johnson was rated "highly effective" two years in a row under Washington's new teacher evaluation system. Those ratings also netted her back-to-back bonuses totaling $30,000.
"Lots of teachers leave the profession, but this has kept me invested to stay," said Ms. Johnson, 29, who is a special-education teacher at the Ron H. Brown Middle School in Northeast Washington. "I know they value me."
Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino has appointed the founder of a Dorchester charter school to the School Committee, in the latest signal of warming relations between Menino and the independently run institutions.
The appointee, Meg Campbell, is founder and executive director of the Codman Academy Charter Public School. The school has been noted for its good track record for college admissions, the mayor's office said yesterday in a prepared statement.
Campbell said last night in a telephone interview that she believes Menino made a bold choice by appointing her to the panel, given her leadership position at a charter school.
"I think it's a tribute to the mayor's overriding commitment'' to education, she said. "It doesn't matter to the mayor where you go to school. It matters that you get a phenomenal education.''
Editor's note: This is the second in a two-part series discussing the presidential candidates' views and likely policies toward higher education. This part focuses on the Republican candidates' positions. On December 12, Jay Schalin presented the higher education track record and statements of Barack Obama.)
For the most part, the Republican primary has focused on economic issues such as employment, taxation, and government spending. Higher education hasn't been a prime topic.
But for future students, taxpayers, and university officials, the presidential hopefuls' higher education policies could loom large. Decisions at the top could further inflate the higher education bubble or, alternatively, spur educational innovations. A look at the Republican field (in alphabetical order) reveals a variety of policy choices gleaned from their websites, statements, and debates.
We're in duck and cover mode...purely from the title of this entry.
But, you know what, folks? Whether you are a Walker devotee or a Walker detractor, you have to admit that EVERYTHING that Act 10 did was not bad. Yes, at its heart, Act 10 was a heinous attempt to cut public employees down at the knees. That was neither right nor fair. You can argue whatever you like, but the fact remains that for these scorned public workers, benefits were improved over the years IN LIEU OF salary increases. Rightly or wrongly so, that is what it boiled down to. Publicly, governors declared victory by giving public employees only modest raises (1-2%) each year. In some years, they got nothing. Quietly, however, behind the scenes, they negotiated with the unions to pick up the tab for a greater percentage of benefits...or offered another few days of annual leave(vacation).
This didn't happen overnight, people! This process developed over the past 25-35 YEARS! We know of many examples of private sector workers who took a job with in the public sector at a substantial demotion in terms of pay. These workers made a choice to do so in exchange for enhanced job security. Again...be it right or wrong, that's what they did. It took many of these workers 10 years or more to be earning the same salary they did when they left the private sector. But it was a choice, and they were OK with their choice.
Don't tell us that the private sector is struggling. Certainly, many private businesses and employees have suffered since the economic crisis which began over 3 years ago. But many are faring much better. We are hearing of BONUSES being given this holiday season. Public employees have never and WILL never hear of such a thing. We also know many private sector employees that have good to excellent health and retirement benefits.
When Cristina Vicini, chairwoman of the Executives' advisory board of Boston University in Brussels was in the early years of her career, in the late eighties, she had the impression that gender imbalance - a much debated topic at the time - was changing and would soon be resolved. "I cannot believe we are still talking about this in the twenty-first century," she says today.
The discussion is indeed continuing, which is why some of Europe's leading business schools have published a Call to Action designed to increase the number of women on company boards.
Written with the support of European Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding, who appealed to European schools for help in September, the seven-page manifesto has four pillars:
Only a few logs remain of Eadsville, a mining camp where people worked, lived and raised families on Casper Mountain. A handful of children learned there in a log schoolhouse.
A century later, another school uses computer technology to learn about the natural features and history there. The Casper Mountain Science School (CMSS) teaches K-12 students on that very site as an enrichment program.
A group from Casper College's advanced GIS (geographic information system) class created a layer of digital, interactive maps complete with pictures and historical information about Eadsville for those students. Each year, groups from the college class complete real projects for various local organizations. Three students braved wind and cold on four trips to Casper Mountain. There, they mapped the CMSS property boundary along with historical mine sites and buildings in and around the old mining town of Eadsville using GPS (global positioning system). Those three, Crocker Hollis, Karen Sue McCutcheon and Nancy Doelger, also saw leftovers of a mountain lion's skunk and bird meals.
The American Chamber of Commerce has warned the chief executive that Hong Kong's status as a world-class city is under threat because the shortage of international school places has reached a "crisis point".1.7MB PDF: Education Policy Framework on Primary School Places for International Assignees
In a paper submitted to Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's government, the business organisation said it wanted a permanent committee to be established to ensure schooling would be available for children of foreign investors and professionals.
"We feel that the situation is hitting a crisis point now," the paper said. "The government urgently needs to work with the private sector to set coherent and long-term, sustainable policies to support Hong Kong's education and talent development."
The chamber, or AmCham, released the paper - sent to the government in August - to the South China Morning Post (SEHK: 0583, announcements, news) last week.
New York State's education commissioner threatened on Tuesday to withhold tens of millions of dollars in federal grants to struggling schools in New York City and nine other districts statewide if they do not prove by Saturday that they will carry out new evaluation systems for teachers and principals.
Officials and union leaders in each district must first agree on the details of the evaluation systems, like how much weight students' standardized test scores will have on the annual ratings that teachers and principals receive. Compromise has thus far proved elusive.
This week, the Wall Street Journal reported that the NY Board of Regents approved the state's sharing of student and teacher information with a new national database, to be funded by the Gates Foundation, and designed by News Corp's Wireless Generation. Other states that have already agreed to share this data, according to the NY State Education Department, include Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina, Louisiana and Massachusetts.
All this confidential student and teacher data will be held by a private limited corporation, called the Shared Learning Collaborative LLC, with even less accountability, which in July was awarded $76.5 million by the Gates Foundation, to be spent over 7 months. According to an earlier NYT story, $44 million of this funding will go straight into the pockets of Wireless Generation, owned by Murdoch's News Corp and run by Joel Klein.
I'd say that it probably will be, yes, and I've been saying so for some time. Think about it for a moment, we still use the educational techniques of the Early Middle Ages.
I first saw this point at Brad DeLong's place. When books are hand written, extremely expensive (as in, more than a year's wages possibly) then it makes sense for students to gather in one place and listen to the book being read to them.
Thus what we call a lecture. However, once printing has made the book cheap there's really not all that much point to such a gathering. Classes, OK, that's different, they're more interactive. And yes, of course, there's more to college than just the lectures and the education.
Schools which fail to improve within six years of being classed "satisfactory" should be relabelled inconsistent and pushed harder to improve, a report says.
The Royal Society of Arts report says half of the 40% of England's schools classed as "satisfactory" failed to improve within two Ofsted inspections.
Last month Ofsted said nearly 800 schools were "coasting" in this way.
The report says such schools are more likely to be in poorer areas.
The RSA report , published jointly with Ofsted, focused on the 40% of secondary schools in England rated as "satisfactory".
It noted that half of these schools remained "satisfactory" for at least two inspections and about 8% declined to an "inadequate" rating.
Quite the year we had in Wisconsin education in 2011, so we have lots of awards to give out in our annual recognition ceremony. Let's get right to the big one for this year:I think Borsuk's #3 is critical. I suspect that 60ish% of school boards will continue with the present practices, under different names. The remainder will create a new environment, perhaps providing a different set of opportunities for teachers. The April, 2012 Madison School Board election may determine the extent to which "status quo" reins locally.
The "Honey, I Blew Up the Education Status Quo" Award: No surprise who is the winner. Like him or hate him (and there certainly is no middle ground), when you say Gov. Scott Walker, you've said it all. State aid cuts. Tightened school spending and taxing. Benefit cuts to teachers. An end to teacher union power as we knew it. No need to say more.
Book of the Year: In some school districts - and the number will grow quickly - it was the handbook issued by the school board, replacing contracts with teachers unions. No more having to get union approval for changing every nitpicky rule about the length of the school day or assigning teachers to lunch duty.
Tool of the Year: Well, it wasn't anything small. In the Legislature, it was more like a jackhammer, as Republicans and Democrats engaged in all-out battle. As for schools, Walker talked often about giving leaders tools to deal with their situations. This is where it will get very interesting. Will leaders act as if they are holding precision tools to be used cautiously or as if they, too, are holding jackhammers? As one state school figure said privately to me, how school boards handle their new power is likely to be a key to whether there is a resurgence of teacher unions in the state. Which leads us to:
New Jersey lawmakers are rightfully concerned about the proliferation of applications for new charter schools and their subsequent lack of effective oversight, but legislation proposed by Assemblywoman Mila Jasey requiring proposed charter schools to be approved at the polls is thoroughly misguided and symptomatic of a disappointing trend in how we view charter schools and the role they play in addressing the horrible inequities in our state.
I am disappointed by what is said by many of those who will establish recently approved charters. When asked what is special about their school's program, they often say something like: "We plan to hire high-quality teachers and have longer hours." My former students would call that a "duh" statement -- their fancy term for a tautology.
The Mind Trust's plan for transforming Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) would dramatically shrink the central administration, send about $200 million more a year to schools without raising taxes one cent, provide pre-k to all 4-year-olds, give teachers and principals more freedom, hold them accountable for student achievement gains, and provide parents with more quality school choices. It is the boldest school reform plan in the country.Nonprofit's proposal would radically reorganize the Indianapolis Public Schools:
Take five minutes and watch a short video of The Mind Trust's Founder and CEO David Harris outlining highlights from the plan.
An Indianapolis nonprofit has unveiled an ambitious 160-page reform proposal to completely overhaul Indianapolis Public Schools.Report should encourage a serious discussion about district's future
If it came to fruition, the sweeping proposal offered by the Mind Trust would create one of the nation's most radical new organizational approaches to public education.
"If we're going to be serious about doing something transformational, we need an aggressive plan," Mind Trust CEO David Harris said. "Incremental reforms haven't worked here, and they haven't worked in other parts of the country."
The proposal features four key changes:
Here's my Christmas wish:
It's that the new Mind Trust report that calls for a sweeping overhaul of the way Indianapolis Public Schools operates will not turn into another tired battle over turf, pride and special interests. Instead, my hope is that it will lead to a broad and much-needed communitywide discussion about the future of the state's largest, and in some ways most important, school district.
The thorough, sensible and provocative report should spark the same kind of urgent discussion and action that we're seeing over mass transit, and that we've seen for decades over sports stadiums.
Those other issues are important. The education debate is vital.
We're meeting for lunch at a restaurant in Canary Wharf, where many of the major global banks are located. He is a man in his late 40s, inconspicuously dressed, and in possession of a firm handshake. He orders a Coke, and then a pasta dish he will dig in with great relish. In his volunteer email he said he was with a software firm (working in investment banking). When asked for a job description, he simply says he is a "quant".
"My parents discovered that I was of a mathematical bent aged three when I was apparently lining up my toys in order of size and then colour. I was one of these terrible, precocious kids who did their mathematics O-level aged 12. After a long academic career I ended up doing theoretical physics for my PhD, and spent a couple of years at Cern in Geneva. Many people I know from back then are still at universities, doing research and climbing the slippery slope to professorships and fellowships. They work the same astonishing long hours as I do, yet get paid a fraction and, from a purely scientific perspective, get to do some really, really interesting science. I often say (only half jokingly) that I "sold my soul" - I make a little over £200,000 a year, including my bonus.
"I am in a world of data, and I build all sorts of models for banks. For instance, one that helps a bank decide whom to lend a mortgage to. You have all this data about the person who is applying, and then the model works out the risk of lending to that person. You look at both the probability of this happening, and at the size of the loss in such an event.
Harlem Children's Zone (HCZ), which combines community programs with "No Excuses" charter schools, is one of the most ambitious social experiments to alleviate poverty of our time. We provide the first empirical test of the causal impact of attending the Promise Academy charter schools in HCZ on educational outcomes, with an eye towards informing the long-standing debate on whether schools alone can eliminate the achievement gap or whether the issues that poor children bring to school are too much for educators alone to overcome. Both lottery and instrumental variable identification strategies suggest that the effects of attending the Promise Academy middle school are enough to close the black-white achievement gap in mathematics. The effects in elementary school are large enough to close the racial achievement gap in both mathematics and English Language Arts. We conclude by presenting two pieces of evidence that suggest high-quality schools are enough to significantly increase academic achievement among the poor. Community programs appear neither necessary nor sufficient.
Nichols said though she disagreed with Silveira's vote, "This is bigger than Madison Prep."
"My motivation comes from listening to a lot of the community dialogue over the last year and hearing the voices of community members who want greater accountability, who want more diversity in the decision-making and just a call for change," Nichols said.
Silveira did not return a call for comment Friday.
Two candidates have announced plans to run for the other School Board seat up for election next spring, which is being vacated by Lucy Mathiak. They are Mary Burke, a former state commerce secretary and Trek Bicycle executive, and Michael Flores, a Madison firefighter, parent and East High graduate.
THE SPORTING SCENE about the football program at Don Bosco Preparatory School in Ramsey, New Jersey. Don Bosco, which belongs to the Salesian order of Roman Catholicism, was founded in 1915, as a boarding school for Polish boys, and shut its dormitories for good in 1969. Its reinvention as a football factory began in 1999, with the arrival of a new principal, Father John Talamo.) Talamo, who was thirty-four, had grown up on the outskirts of New Orleans, and brought with him the football-centric values of his native Louisiana.
Truly involving parents and communities in our public schools, and the decisions that affect them, is essential to improving our school system.
While parent involvement is crucial to a child's educational success, the reality is that such involvement is not always present for various reasons. However, the larger communities in which a student's school and home are located also play an instrumental role in nurturing educational achievement, as expressed by the African proverb, "It takes a village to raise a child."
Unfortunately over the past several years, the Department of Education has consistently failed to meaningfully empower and involve these important stakeholders in its decisions about schools. Nowhere has this been more evident than in the Education Department's decisions and proposals regarding closing or phasing out schools, and opening new ones.
The Plains Art Museum announced plans Thursday to open a "Center for Creativity" that will teach art to thousands of local elementary school students.
The $2.8 million center will open next fall near the museum in downtown Fargo.
Museum Director Colleen Sheehy said in the first year the center will serve 5,000 Fargo elementary students. Schools will pay a fee for the classes.
Ultimately, Sheehy said the new center will teach art education to the 12,000 K-5 students in the Fargo-Moorhead area. Programs offered at the center will replace some existing art education programs in the schools.
The center will significantly increase the number of people who use the museum, she said.
Lower marriage rates among black women have less to do with the character of black men, and more to do with specific social characteristics that are associated with lower marriage rates among all men and women, but are more common among black people. A black woman with a postsecondary degree is more likely to be married than a white woman who dropped out of high school. A black woman with a personal annual income of more than $75,000 is more than twice as likely to be married as white women who live in poverty. White women living in New York and Los Angeles have much lower marriage rates than most black women who live in small towns.
Black and white women who are younger than 40 have higher college graduation rates, lower incarceration rates and lower mortality rates when compared to their male counterparts. However, black men on average have higher incomes than black women, and there are hundreds of thousands more black men earning $75,000 a year or more than black women. Eighty-eight percent of all married black men are married to black women, a figure that changes less than five percentage points with more education and income.
More than 100 students attended Minnesota's first-ever conference for undocumented high school students seeking a college education Saturday at the University of Minnesota.
The event, organized by the group Navigate, included workshops on the legal and financial steps to college.
Navigate Executive Director Juventino Meza said the group had a lot of support for the event, but he says there was some criticism over calling it a conference for, quote, "undocumented students."
"And we decided, you know what, there is a negative rhetoric already in our communities and there is fear, and we want to make sure students have a space where they can be undocumented -- where they can talk about it and ask questions," he said.
Many South Carolina public colleges and universities are excessively expensive and have strayed too far from their core mission: educating students, according to a recent study by a Columbia-based think tank.
Tuition is rising faster than household income in South Carolina, says the study of eight colleges and universities by the S.C. Policy Council, a public policy research and education foundation that advocates for more limited government.
The study, which did not include Winthrop University, The Citadel and many other state institutions, also says:
The colleges and universities do a poor job of retaining and graduating students.
It's lunchtime at Van Nuys High School and students stream into the cafeteria to check out the day's fare: black bean burgers, tostada salad, fresh pears and other items on a new healthful menu introduced this year by the Los Angeles Unified School District.
But Iraides Renteria and Mayra Gutierrez don't even bother to line up. Iraides said the school food previously made her throw up, and Mayra calls it "nasty, rotty stuff." So what do they eat? The juniors pull three bags of Flamin' Hot Cheetos and soda from their backpacks.
"This is our daily lunch," Iraides says. "We're eating more junk food now than last year."
For many students, L.A. Unified's trailblazing introduction of healthful school lunches has been a flop. Earlier this year, the district got rid of chocolate and strawberry milk, chicken nuggets, corn dogs, nachos and other food high in fat, sugar and sodium. Instead, district chefs concocted such healthful alternatives as vegetarian curries and tamales, quinoa salads and pad Thai noodles.
It's dangerous to be away. I briefly left the country a few weeks ago, and while I was gone, the district superintendent announced her retirement and The Spokesman-Review (SR) launched what I see as a media "lynching" of a local high school teacher.
Did you read about the attack on Jennifer Walther, an Advanced Placement English teacher (news.google.com search) at Ferris High School in Spokane, WA? Are you shocked by the newspaper's biased coverage? I'm not shocked. Nowadays, the SR doesn't bear much resemblance to the newspapers I've enjoyed reading. Smaller, thinner and nastier, it contains less content, less local news and more ads. Often biased, incomplete or hypocritical, the paper tolerates questionable material that fits an editorial agenda.
I'm an avid newspaper reader, but I canceled the SR in 2008 when it kept quoting unsubstantiated rumors from the ex-boyfriend of the daughter of vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Things have not improved since then.
Now, the SR is using its bully pulpit to accuse Walther of doing something the SR appears to do nearly every day of the week - pursue a biased political agenda. Evidence suggests that, rather than stand up for this teacher, the school district and teachers union initiated or are assisting with the pile-on.
A cascade of statistics from the 2010 Census and other Census Bureau sources released during 2011 show a nation in flux--growing and moving more slowly as it ages, infused by racial and ethnic minorities and immigrants in its younger ranks, and struggling economically across a decade bookended by two recessions. The nation's largest metropolitan areas, and especially their suburbs, stood on the front lines of America's evolving demographic transformation. Following is a slideshow of the five most important findings to emerge from our State of Metropolitan America analyses over the past year. Additional insight from co-author William H. Frey is available in a related video and at time.com.
As discussed in prior posts, high-quality analyses of charter school effects show that there is wide variation in the test-based effects of these schools but that, overall, charter students do no better than their comparable regular public school counterparts. The existing evidence, though very tentative, suggests that the few schools achieving large gains tend to be well-funded, offer massive amounts of additional time, provide extensive tutoring services and maintain strict, often high-stakes discipline policies.
There will always be a few high-flying chains dispersed throughout the nation that get results, and we should learn from them. But there's also the issue of whether a bunch of charters schools with different operators using diverse approaches can expand within a single location and produce consistent results.
Charter supporters typically argue that state and local policies can be leveraged to "close the bad charters and replicate the good ones." Opponents, on the other hand, contend that successful charters can't expand beyond a certain point because they rely on selection bias of the best students into these schools (so-called "cream skimming"), as well as the exclusion of high-needs students.
Educators forced out or disciplined by local districts over cheating and other state testing violations continued working in schools or administering state exams as their cases languished in Springfield without investigation, the Tribune has learned.
Contrary to Illinois law, state officials for years didn't investigate or pursue discipline of educators reported for testing misconduct -- from excessive coaching to giving students answers to prepping them with actual test questions, a Tribune investigation found. Some may have been allowed to keep teaching even if the state had investigated, but in the meantime, educators were allowed to jump easily to new jobs while the state delayed.
Illinois State Board of Education officials say they were instead focused on higher-priority discipline cases because of limited resources, though lawmakers have given the agency $1.3 million since 2008-09 to pursue educator misconduct. Typically, they addressed violations by throwing out test results and letting local officials discipline educators.
Buffalo's Promise Neighborhood project was one of five in the nation to secure federal funding to provide "cradle to career" services for children in an effort to improve educational outcomes among low-income areas, federal officials announced today.
The local initiative will receive five years of funding from the federal government, including $1.5 million in its first year. M&T Bank this fall pledged to match the federal funds and to raise an additional $9 million in private funding.
The initiative is largely modeled after the Harlem Children's Zone, where families in a 100-block area receive wraparound services, from health care to educational support, beginning with prenatal care and leading through high school graduation.
Buffalo's Promise Neighborhood will focus on the 14215 ZIP code, building on the success that has been realized in the Westminster Community Charter School. The plan seeks to stabilize the neighborhood, increase services to families, and ultimately improve the education at three schools in that area: Bennett High School, Highgate Heights Elementary and Westminster Community Charter School.
When asked to identify the qualities that lead to success in life, experts often list the ability to overcome obstacles. Pushing past adversity, through determination and persistence, is the hallmark of the greatest leaders, the most successful parents, the most prized employees, we are told. Those who make no excuses, who do whatever it takes to get something done, are the ones who have the capacity to achieve greatness.
In education, we focus a lot on accommodating our student's needs. We have English Language Learners (E.L.L.s) and special education students. We have kids with emotional disturbances and anger issues. We have kids who are acting out, and kids who are uninterested or bored.
It's our job to teach them no matter what. We are often the adults that children see with the most consistency and frequency, and we are responsible for their educations, in the broadest sense of that word. But to truly help them be successful, we ourselves have to embody the "no excuses" attitude.
The director of the Iowa Department of Education said he's willing to be patient with his plan to overhaul the state's public school system, acknowledging that many people aren't ready for changes he thinks are essential.
Gov. Terry Branstad chose 40-year-old Jason Glass largely because of his background in education reform, and since coming to Iowa he has been leading the push for dramatic changes to the state's public schools.
Because he began his job only a couple weeks before the last legislative session began, this was supposed to be the session where Glass would see his ambitious plans enacted. He proposed a 15-page package of proposals that would shake up the state's schools, changing the way they do business on everything from paying teachers to opening the profession to non-traditional educators.
That still may happen, but Branstad has temporarily shelved a proposed tiered system of teacher pay that increased salaries for beginning teachers and let teacher move through a series of pay grades based on performance in the classroom.
Sherri and Cliff Nitschke thought they were planning wisely for their children's college educations when they opened a 529 savings account in 1998.
The Fresno couple saved diligently over the years in hopes of avoiding costly student loans. But their timing couldn't have been worse.
When they needed the money a decade later, their 529 account had plunged in value during the global financial crisis. Their portfolio sank 30% in 2008, forcing the Nitschkes to borrow heavily to send their two sons to UCLA.
"529s were no friend to us," Cliff Nitschke said. "Honestly, it's probably one of the worst things we did. I could have made more money putting it in a mayonnaise jar and burying it in the backyard."
Over the last decade, 529 savings plans have surged in popularity as parents scramble to keep up with rapidly escalating college costs.
Fordham's latest study, "Do High Flyers Maintain Their Altitude? Performance Trends of Top Students," is the first to examine the performance of America's highest-achieving children over time at the individual-student level. Produced in partnership with the Northwest Evaluation Association, it finds that many high-achieving students struggle to maintain their elite performance over the years and often fail to improve their reading ability at the same rate as their average and below-average classmates. The study raises troubling questions: Is our obsession with closing achievement gaps and "leaving no child behind" coming at the expense of our "talented tenth"--and America's future international competitiveness? Read on to learn more.
The Chinese-language teacher "borrowed" the time allocated for physical education. Again. Instead of 45 minutes of running and playing, there was a quiz on reading and writing.
"We're used to it. We knew she would never pay (the time) back," Rong Yiyang, a third-grader, said as he blinked behind his glasses.
Losing a sports lesson that Tuesday morning pained him more than ever. The 9-year-old boy had just quit the school's basketball team because practice was conflicting with his after-school English class.
Here comes the unwritten rule for Rong and most other Chinese students: Exercise is not bad, but study takes priority - despite a nationwide requirement that schools get kids moving regularly.
With one hand, Gov. Bob McDonnell touted his plan this week to pump millions more dollars over the next two years into Virginia's K-12 education system. With the other, he proposed cutting millions of dollars that will leave holes in the budgets of school districts across the commonwealth.
The result, unfortunately, is a budget that fails to boost the quality of K-12 education in Virginia and, in fact, may ultimately undermine it.
McDonnell's decision to withhold inflationary adjustments for so-called "non-personal" education expenses, including school utilities and employee health care and student transportation, means localities will be forced to cover an extra $109 million over the next two years. Revising a formula that factors in federal funds will allow the state to save another $108 million.
Wealthy donors have created a fund to pay the salary of a new Bridgeport school superintendent, ushering in hopes of a new era of private money for reform efforts in Connecticut's most troubled school system.
City and school officials said the fund would be administered by the Fairfield County Community Foundation, a $150 million organization where Democratic Rep. Jim Himes and former Bridgeport mayoral hopeful Mary-Jane Foster serve as board members.
African-American students whose primary language is English perform significantly worse in math and reading than black students who speak another language at home -- typically immigrants or refugees -- according to new numbers released by Seattle Public Schools.
District officials, who presented the finding at a recent community meeting at Rainier Beach High School, noted the results come with caveats, but called the potential trend troubling and pledged to study what might be causing it.
Michael Tolley, an executive director overseeing Southeast Seattle schools, said at the meeting that the data exposed a new achievement gap that is "extremely, extremely alarming."
The administration has for years analyzed test scores by race. It has never before broken down student-achievement data by specific home language or country of origin -- it is rare for school districts to examine test scores at that level -- but it is unlikely that the phenomenon the data suggest is actually new.
Sweeping education reforms proposed by Gov. Terry Branstad are likely to include the creation of a task force that would consider extending the amount of time Iowa students spend in school.
Branstad announced in October that he'll ask lawmakers to approve reforms aimed at improving education for Iowa's 468,000 students and better the quality of the state's teachers.
Class-time extensions were not included in his original plan.
But Jason Glass, director of the Iowa Department of Education, last week told an advisory group of school superintendents that Branstad is expected to add the creation of a task force to consider such extensions. The task force would likely consider adding 10 days to the school year, lengthening school days and requiring struggling students to go to school on Saturdays or take summer classes, the Des Moines Register reported ( http://dmreg.co/rFkPsg).
Iowa currently has a 180-day school year. State law mandates that each school day last at least 5.5 hours, but most students are in class an average of 6.5 hours.
VIEWED superficially, the part of youth that the psychologist Jean Piaget called middle childhood looks tame and uneventful, a quiet patch of road on the otherwise hairpin highway to adulthood.
Said to begin around 5 or 6, when toddlerhood has ended and even the most protractedly breast-fed children have been weaned, and to end when the teen years commence, middle childhood certainly lacks the physical flamboyance of the epochs fore and aft: no gotcha cuteness of babydom, no secondary sexual billboards of pubescence.
Yet as new findings from neuroscience, evolutionary biology, paleontology and anthropology make clear, middle childhood is anything but a bland placeholder. To the contrary, it is a time of great cognitive creativity and ambition, when the brain has pretty much reached its adult size and can focus on threading together its private intranet service -- on forging, organizing, amplifying and annotating the tens of billions of synaptic connections that allow brain cells and brain domains to communicate.
I encountered Steve by sending him an email to ask a question about one of his papers. After a few rapid fire email exchanges I found myself on the phone with him for over an hour the very next day discussing topics as wide ranging as his interests. He's one of the first people I have met that I would definitely consider a polymath in that his expertise spans multiple disciplines (including my own). After our talk I sent him some questions. We covered everything from physics and Richard Feynman's supposedly "low" IQ to his latest research in intelligence. Finally, I asked him if he thought we would ever find another Einstein.
1. In a nutshell, tell me what your physics research is about.
I'm interested in the basic constituents of nature ("fundamental particles") and the rules that govern their interactions ("quantum field theory" or "quantum gravity"). My work involves things like quarks, black holes, the big bang, and quantum mechanics.
The whole agonizing conflict over Madison Preparatory Academy did not end on Monday night, when the school board voted 5-2 against allowing the African American charter school to open next fall. Now comes the lawsuit.
But first, our community faces two immediate tasks: healing the wounds that were ripped open during the Madison Prep controversy, and getting something done about the urgent problem the charter school was developed to address -- Madison's disgraceful achievement gap for African American children.
Monday night's six hours of emotional testimony mostly highlighted the first of those two problems. In front of the packed auditorium at Memorial High School, Urban League president and Madison Prep founder Kaleem Caire read "What happens to a dream deferred?" to the school board. Nichelle Nichols, the Urban League's vice president of learning, read a poem that placed the blame for her own children's spoiled futures squarely on Madison Metropolitan School District officials: "My kids are in the gap, a chasm so dark.... I ask, Mr. Superintendent, what happened to my sons...?"
The sense that Madison has mistreated children of color was a powerful theme. White business leader and former teacher Jan O'Neil pointed out the "huge amount of capital in this room," all focused on solving the historic educational inequality for African American kids. A "no" vote, she warned the board, might be hopelessly polarizing.
ubliCola: What do you think of Attorney General Rob McKenna's education reform agenda? [McKenna, a Republican, is running for governor.]
Gregoire: What is it? You'll have to help me on that.
PubliCola: It seems more aggressive than the one you laid out. [Gregoire announced a reform proposal last week - AP report here - that will put a pilot project of 4-tiered teacher evaluations in play statewide]. It ties teacher evaluations to student test scores, calls for charter schools, and allows the state to step in and take over failing schools. It's in sync with President Obama's education reform agenda. The proposal you came out with last week seems like a "lite" version of that to education reformers [because the evaluations aren't tied explicitly to "student academic growth"].
Gregoire: I don't really think so. I think what it is is a Washington reform. The most recent studies on charter schools come out of Stanford. And there's no guarantee of anything there. As many as there are doing OK, there are an equal number that are not. ... Why would we go down a path where there's no big success to be had? And our voters have already turned [charters] down three times.
I developed this lab school idea, which serves two purposes: One, you have our four-year university schools partner up with one of our bottom five percent schools and really run the school and get them to transition out of their low performance. And two, you really do take your schools of education and improve them dramatically, because if they're going to train teachers, what better training for them than to be inside a classroom and see what works and what doesn't work?
PubliCola: What about tying test scores to teacher evaluations?
An increasingly cozy alliance between companies that manufacture processed foods and companies that serve the meals is making students -- a captive market -- fat and sick while pulling in hundreds of millions of dollars in profits. At a time of fiscal austerity, these companies are seducing school administrators with promises to cut costs through privatization. Parents who want healthier meals, meanwhile, are outgunned.
Each day, 32 million children in the United States get lunch at schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program, which uses agricultural surplus to feed children. About 21 million of these students eat free or reduced-price meals, a number that has surged since the recession. The program, which also provides breakfast, costs $13.3 billion a year.
There is little love for the SAT. How little, you ask? When a massive cheating scandal erupted this fall, fewer people rushed to defend the test than rose to defend Penn State officials for allegedly covering up the sexual abuse of children. But as unpopular as the iconic SAT may be - among students and many educational activists alike - it's actually pretty good at what it's designed to do, which is to serve as a common measure across the hodgepodge of academic standards, grading systems and norms being used by America's sprawling 25,000 high schools.
Unlike many of the tests that the education world loves to argue about, the SAT is an optional test; students choose to take it if they want to attend schools that require it for admission. So SAT angst is limited to the college-bound. (The test is administered by the New York-based nonprofit College Board, which is also in charge of high school Advanced Placement tests.) And although its only true fans are the intellectually insecure, the SAT, which used to be an acronym for Scholastic Aptitude Test, doesn't show how smart or savvy students are or how successful, happy, or impactful they're likely to be in life. But on average, it does fairly accurate gauge on how well students will do in their first year of college. That's something admissions officials want to know. And that's why good scores can boost an applicant's chances of getting in and low scores can torpedo them.
Every race has losers, and the Obama administration's Race to the Top education grant competition is proving to be no exception.
As nine states await their prize money after coming out on top late last week in the Education Department's Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge, the rest are left empty-handed, having spent thousands of hours carefully crafting plans that ultimately fell short.
"We invested a ton of time. That time equates to money," said Bobby Cagle, commissioner of Georgia's Department of Early Care and Learning.
Mr. Cagle estimated that he and his staff spent more than 2,000 hours on the effort, and said his agency is greatly disappointed by the result.
The data presented in this combined report―Rankings & Estimates―provide facts about the extent to which local, state, and national governments commit resources to public education. As one might expect in a nation as diverse as the United States--with respect to economics, geography, and politics--the level of commitment to education varies on a state-by-state basis. Regardless of these variations, improvements in public education can be measured by summary statistics. Thus, NEA Research offers this report to its state and local affiliates as well as to researchers, policymakers, and the public as a tool to examine public education programs and services.Wisconsin ranks 21st in average teacher salaries (page 35), 10th in property tax revenue as a percentage of total tax revenue (page 52), 16th in per capita state individual income tax revenue (page 53) and 15th in public school revenue per student.
Part I of this combined report--Rankings 2010--provides state-level data on an array of topics relevant to the com- plex enterprise of public education. Since the 1960s, Rankings has presented facts and figures useful in determining how states differ from one another--or from national averages--on selected statistics. In addition to identifying emerging trends in key economic, political, and social areas, the state-by-state figures on government financing, state demographics, and public schools permit a statistical assessment of the scope of public education. Of course, no set of tables tells the entire story of a state's education offerings. Consideration of factors such as a state's tax system, pro- visions for other public services, and population characteristics also are needed. Therefore, it is unwise to draw con- clusions based solely on individual statistics in this report. Readers are urged to supplement the ranked data with specific information about state and local service activities related to public education.
Part II of this combined report--Estimates 2011--is in its 67th year of production. This report provides projections of public school enrollment, employment and compensation of personnel, and finances, as reported by individual state departments of education. Not surprisingly, interest in the improvement and renewal of public education continues to capture the attention of the nation. The state-level data featured in Estimates permit broad assessments of trends in staff salaries, sources of school funding, and levels of educational expenditures. The data should be used with the un- derstanding that the reported statewide totals and averages may not reflect the varying conditions that exist among school districts and schools within the state.
Public education in the United States is a joint enterprise between local, state, and federal governments. Yet, progress in improving public education stems primarily from the efforts of state education agencies, local districts, and indi- vidual schools. These public organizations deserve credit for recognizing that spending for education needs to be ac- knowledged as an investment in our nation's most valuable resource--children. Similarly, this publication represents a collective effort that goes well beyond the staff of the National Education Association. Individual state departments of education and the NEA's state affiliates participate in collecting and assembling the data shown here. As a result, the NEA appreciates and acknowledges the cooperation it receives from all those whose efforts make this publication possible.
The American Federation of Teachers, vilified by critics as an obstacle to school reform, is leading an unusual effort to turn around a floundering school system in a place where deprivation is layered on heartache.
The AFT, which typically represents teachers in urban settings, wants to improve education deep in the heart of Appalachia by simultaneously tackling the social and economic troubles of McDowell County.
The union has gathered about 40 partners, including Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cisco Systems, IBM, Save the Children, foundations, utility companies, housing specialists, community colleges, and state and federal governments, which have committed to a five-year plan to try to lift McDowell out of its depths.
The McDowell Initiative, to be announced Friday, comes in the middle of a national debate about what causes failing schools in impoverished communities: the educators or the environment?
On Monday morning, the start of the school week, five teenagers rowed toward the breakwater leading into San Francisco Bay.
"It's so foggy you can't even see the Golden Gate Bridge," said Austin, a 17-year-old student at Downtown High School in Potrero Hill, as he worked the oars. When the students passed an old sailboat, their instructor, Jeff Rogers, told them it was built 120 years ago in Hunters Point.
"Hey," Austin said. "My 'hood."
If not for the boating expedition, Austin might have still been home, in bed, instead of in school. But on that day his classroom happened to be a sailboat. Before coming to Downtown, he was a chronic truant in the San Francisco school system, one of the thousands of students at risk of dropping out. Now he attends school about 80 percent of the time.
In June 2010, Wisconsin's Joint Committee on Finance approved YoungStar, a new quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) for the state's nearly 8,500 child care providers. YoungStar supporters believe the new system will improve the overall quality of childcare in Wisconsin by motivating and supporting providers to make quality improvements and by providing parents with the information they need to choose high-quality child care options.
In the Forum's latest Research Brief, we examine several issues and challenges that have arisen in other states or jurisdictions with QRIS policies, how those entities have tackled those challenges, and the lessons their experiences might yield for Wisconsin. We found five common implementation challenges that have confronted other states and that have the potential to occur in Wisconsin, as well.
Dannel Malloy, Governor of Connecticut: Letter to the Connecticut General Assembly.
A year after Luiz Munoz-Rivera School shut its doors as the public school system dealt with a budget shortfall, the district has opted to reopen it for nearly the same reason.
Rebranded as the Rivera Learning Community, the school has become the flagship for the district's efforts to invest in in-house special education programs rather than send students to expensive out-of-district institutions.
The rising cost of out-of-district placement for special education students has dogged the district for years and drawn heavy criticism from the state Department of Education.
AFRICAN-American students are lagging behind other students, including other black ethnic students whose home language is not English, according to new numbers released by Seattle Public Schools. ["'Alarming' new test-score gap discovered in Seattle schools," page one, Dec. 19.]
This is an important problem that other cities have confronted head-on. First, they have admitted they really don't know how to solve the problem. Second, they acknowledge that the normal remedies school districts use to solve achievement problems are too weak to work.
These admissions have led other cities to open themselves up to experimentation in schools serving the most disadvantaged: longer school days and years; no-excuses instructional models; new sources of teachers; partnerships with businesses and cultural institutions that can provide enrichment and role models; use of online instruction to teach subjects like science where school staff are often not qualified; new schools run by national institutions with track records of improving achievement for the most disadvantaged.
There is something truly disturbing about a society that seeks to control the behavior of schoolchildren through fear and violence, a tactic that harkens back to an era of paddle-bruised behinds and ruler-slapped wrists. Yet, some American school districts are pushing the boundaries of corporal punishment even further with the use of Tasers against unruly schoolchildren.
The deployment of Tasers against "problem" students coincides with the introduction of police officers on school campuses, also known as School Resource Officers (SROs). According to the Los Angeles Times, as of 2009, the number of SROs carrying Tasers was well over 4,000.
As far back as 1988, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, National Congress of Parents and Teachers, American Medical Association, National Education Association, American Bar Association, and American Academy of Pediatrics recognized that inflicting pain and fear upon disobedient children is far more harmful than helpful. Yet, we continue to do it with disturbing results, despite mountains of evidence of more effective methods of discipline.
Three more Kansas counties have enrolled to participate in a new program that aims to attract new residents to rural areas by offering to repay college tuition debts.
The Kansas Department of Commerce said that Chautauqua, Gove and Pawnee counties had joined the state's rural opportunity zone program aimed at slowing or reversing the rate of population decline in the counties. To date, 43 of 50 eligible counties are participating.
Counties participating in the program agree to partner with the state to offer student loan reimbursements of up to $3,000 a year for five years to new college graduates. The department said there were 158 applications from across the country for the program.
Pierre "Nic" Antoine, principal of two Catholic schools in Racine formed by school mergers, understands the pain families feel when their schools are closed.
But with the expansion of private-school vouchers to Racine, Antoine believes Catholic education has been reinvigorated this year. Enrollment is stable at Our Lady of Grace Academy, which added 30 voucher students this year, and up by about 20% at John Paul II Academy, which added 40 voucher students.
"We went from being 70% full in 2010-'11 to being 95% full this year," Antoine said of John Paul II Academy.
The boost in student enrollment is part of a larger trend in the Milwaukee Archdiocese this year - enrollment is up for the first time in 13 years, driven by voucher student enrollment that increased from 7,502 students last year to 8,831 students this year.
Nationwide and in Milwaukee, Catholic school enrollment has decreased over the years. After the recession caused families to tighten their budgets, some private schools' enrollment figures dropped even further, prompting mergers and closures.
Around 2,000 teachers, parents and children rallied outside the Legislative Council building in Tamar yesterday, urging the government to implement 15 years of free education starting from kindergarten.
The coalition of 17 groups - including the Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union and the Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers - also demanded a pay scale for kindergarten teachers that guarantees an annual salary rise, a better teacher- to-pupil ratio, and an improved Pre-primary Education Voucher Scheme.
Union chairman Fung Wai-wah said the public has already agreed on the 15 years of free education and it should be implemented immediately.
Kansas City, Mo., schools are losing their accreditation on Jan. 1. Missouri law allows students from unaccredited districts to enroll for free in nearby school systems, so the suburban districts outside Kansas City are bracing for an influx of students.Much more on the Kansas City schools, here.
Jacob Rainey is inspiring people all across the sports world - and no more so than giants from the NFL.
The Virginia prep quarterback who had to have part of his right leg amputated has moved the likes of Alabama coach Nick Saban, Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews and Denver quarterback Tim Tebow.
A highlight film of Rainey on YouTube shows why college coaches had taken notice.
It shows the once-promising quarterback at Woodberry Forest School throwing a 40-yard dart for a touchdown, running into the line on a quarterback sneak, then emerging from the pile and sprinting 40 yards for a TD. There is also of clip of him running a draw for another 35-yard score.
All that was taken away, without warning when he was tackled during a scrimmage on September 3. He suffered a severe knee injury and a severed artery and part of his right leg had to be amputated.
Two of our overriding efforts in Lower Education in recent years have been: 1) raising the low math and reading scores of black and Hispanic students, and 2) increasing the number of our high school and college graduates capable of employment in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics [STEM}.
Very recently evidence has been allowed to surface pointing out that while students in the bottom 10% of academic performance have indeed improved, students in the top ten percent of academic performance have stagnated, where they have not dropped out from boredom. Related evidence now suggests that complacency with secondary public education in our more affluent suburbs may have been quite misplaced as well.
As Thomas Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum point out in their recent book, That Used To Be Us, "average is over." That is to say, students in other cities (Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai) and countries (Finland, South Korea, Japan) take their educations so much more seriously than our students (and teachers) do that their economies are achieving gains on our own that are truly startling, if we take the time to notice.
If we are to retain good jobs, restart our manufacturing, and otherwise decide to compete seriously with others who seem to take both education and work more seriously than we have come to do, it might be wise to increase the interest of our students in STEM fields. According to the Kaiser Foundation, our students aged 8-18 are spending, on average, more than seven hours a day with electronic entertainment media.
Now of course we want our young people to buy our electronic entertainment hardware and software and we definitely want them to have a good time and be happy, but probably we would like them to be employable some day as well. Friedman and Mandelbaum point out that not only blue collar jobs and white collar jobs, but increasingly sophisticated professional work can be done to a high standard at a much lower cost in other countries than it can be done here.
Having our students spend 53 hours a week on their electronic entertainment media, while their high school homework tops out, in many cases, according to ACT, at three to four hours a week, is not a plan that will enable us to resume our competitive position in the world's economies.
So perhaps we should assign students in high school 15 hours a week of homework (which would reduce their media time to a mere 38 hours a week) and pass on to them the information that if they don't start working to a much much higher academic standard they will probably face a more depressing future in a greatly diminished nation than they currently imagine they will have.
But, is STEM enough? I remember the story told about a visit Sir Alexander Fleming, who discovered penicillin, made to the gleaming new Salk Laboratory in La Jolla. A young biologist, thrilled to be a guide to the Nobel Prize-winner, was very proud to be able to show off all the bright new spotless expensive state-of-the-art research equipment. When they finished the tour, the young man could not stop himself from saying, "Just think, Sir Alexander, with all this equipment, what you could have discovered!" And Sir Alexander said, "not penicillin."
Because the discovery of penicillin relied on serendipity and curiosity. Fleming found some petri dishes contaminated by something that had come in, probably, through one of the dirty old badly-closed windows in his lab in England. Instead of washing the dishes so he could start over with them, as most scientists would have done, he asked himself what could have killed off those bacteria in the dishes. And a major breakthrough was made possible.
Just in passing, amid the rush for more STEM, I would like to put in a word for serendipity, which often fuels creativity of many kinds, by making possible the association of previously unrelated ideas and memories when in contact with a new fact or situation not deliberately sought out.
I argue that serendipity is more likely to occur and to be fruitful if our students also have a lot of experience with the ROOTS of civilization, that is, the history, literature, art, music, architecture and other fields which have provided the background and inspiration for so much that we find worthwhile in human life. Steve Jobs found his course in calligraphy useful when he came to think about Macintosh software, but there are countless examples of important discoveries and contributions that have been, at least in part, grounded in the ROOTS of civilized life. So let us push for more STEM, by all means, but if, in the process we neglect those ROOTS, our achievements will be fewer, and our lives will be the poorer as a result, IMHO.
The Concord Review
Louisiana education leaders have launched a five-year plan to reach the national average for high school students who earn college credit.
The courses, called Advanced Placement, can enhance college success and even make students more likely to attend college, officials said.
But only 4 percent of Louisiana students passed at least one AP exam in 2009, which is 49th in the nation and ahead of only Mississippi.
The national average is 16.9 percent, which state officials said is reachable by 2017.
The Los Angeles Unified School District, second biggest in the United States with some 700,000 students, located in the center of the most segregated area in the country for Latino students, is a place where students of color are very often denied any opportunity to do any meaningful preparation for college and are often attending dropout factory high schools. In this system, where mandatory desegregation was abandoned in 1981, there's one small place where's there some racial and economic diversity and special programs offered for students who choose to participate in them.
More than 170 magnet school programs exist in the Los Angeles Unified School District. They have been funded with billions of dollars of state money for desegregation assistance. The strong magnets are one of the last vestiges of middle class education that exist in the City of Los Angeles and one of the few places where students from really disadvantaged backgrounds can come to classes with students from more advantaged backgrounds, in schools where the teachers want to participate in those schools and where there's a special curriculum offered to draw them there. Not all of these schools are great schools. Some of them are phony magnets, and some of them are wonderful schools. But they are a really important option for the City of Los Angeles. When a student can transfer from a dropout factory school to one where many students go to college, a bus is a great educational investment.
Only about one of every four U.S. classrooms has an "excellent teacher," one who produces enough learning progress to close achievement gaps and help all students leap ahead to higher-order learning. Three-quarters do not.
The school models presented here aim to change that. These models use job redesign, technology, or both to help excellent teachers reach more students. Done right, all the models presented here can meet our Reach Extension Principles. Most models can be used for whole schools or single courses.
Here's a quick overview: Our primary goal is to enable schools to reach significantly more students with excellent teachers. Every model outlined here identifies the excellent teacher in charge--the person who is truly accountable for learning. In more detailed models coming in 2012, we also indicate what people, technology, and other resources the excellent teacher has authority to choose and change. We organized the models around two key dimensions:
Here's how five people answered this week's question posed by Capital Times freelancer Kevin Murphy. What do you think? Please join the discussion.
"I don't agree with that decision. We need something to close that achievement gap and this was something that could have closed that gap and they won't even take a chance with it. It's the best idea to come forward so far and it should have been tried."
retired school district employee
"It was a good idea and I think anything new in the way of education needs to be tried. Give it a try. It was a pretty proposal with non-coed instruction, uniforms for students, minority staff. It certainly is worth a try given the track record the school district has had with minority students so far."
For most people, the word "algebra" conjures classroom memories of Xs and Ys. Weekend Edition's math guy, Keith Devlin, says that's because most schools do a terrible job of teaching it. He talks with host Scott Simon about what algebra really is. Plus, Devlin explains how algebra took off in Baghdad, the Silicon Valley of the ninth century.
I can't shake the feeling that something important was going on at our School Board meeting last Monday night to consider the Madison Prep charter school proposal, and that the actual School Board vote wasn't it.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
The bare-bone facts are that, after about 90 public speakers, the Board voted 2-5 to reject the Madison Prep proposal. I reluctantly voted against the motion because I was unwilling to violate the terms of our collective bargaining agreement with our teachers.
After the motion failed, I moved that the Board approve Madison Prep, but delay its opening until the fall of 2013. My motion failed for lack of a second. (And no, I don't have an explanation for why neither James Howard nor Lucy Mathiak, who voted in favor of the first motion, was willing to second my motion.)
Probably like most who attended Monday night's meeting, I have thought a lot about it since. People who know I voted against the proposal have come up to me and congratulated me for what they say was the right decision. I have felt like shaking them and saying, "No, you don't understand. We blew it Monday night, we blew it big time. I just hope that we only crippled Madison Prep and didn't kill it."
I appreciate that that's an odd and surprising place for me to have ended up. To echo the Talking Heads, "Well, how did I get here?" I'll try to explain.
Despite efforts by school administration to streamline its special education services, an unforeseen 59 students joined special ed this year, causing the district to face a deficit for the third year running.
Superintendent Dr. Stephen Falcone told the Board of Education that he's expecting a $251,866 shortfall, primarily due to out of district tuition increases of more than $550,000, and another year of reduced state funding. Darien also lost $225,000 in stimulus money after receiving it for the past two years.
To close some of this gap, Falcone advised a number of saving measures to get the schools back on track. [see related story]
The Courier-Post is all over Camden Public Schools' failure to accurately report incidents of violence and vandalism. (See earlier story here.) Each year, per state mandate, districts file reports with the State DOE listing rates of violence and then the State reports out to the Legislature. While there has been a 6.4% increase in violent incidents (some of this, no doubt, attributable to the new Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying legislation), Camden Public Schools appears to be a land of milk and honey: there were only 29 incidents all of last year and only 35 for 2010-2011.
Among other districts in the area "almost 30 districts reported more violent incidents than Camden - including Audobon, Cherry Hill, Cinnaminson, and Washington Township."
In a bold move that is generating controversy within its own ranks, the California Charter School Association is urging that 10 of the 145 charter schools up for renewal this year be denied their charters because they failed to meet academic performance benchmarks set by the association.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan hailed the association for its "courageous leadership" in attempting to "hold schools accountable." "This is an important conversation for California to have, and one that we need to have across the country," Duncan said, echoing remarks made by several charter school leaders.
But the association's action has also provoked fierce criticism from schools it has recommended for closure, as well as from some long-time supporters of the charter movement.
A new round of the popular education board game, Poverty Matters, began last week with a New York Times op-ed by Helen Ladd and Edward Fiske, titled, "Class Matters: Why Won't We Admit It?" (Interestingly, the essay is really about poverty, not class, and the paper that Ladd wrote on which the essay is based is titled Education and Poverty: Confronting the Evidence. See also Kathleen Porter-Magee's The `Poverty Matters' Trap from last July's Flypaper.)
Ladd and Fiske's essay was one of those broadsides that spreads through the teacher ranks like a brush fire. I received my email copy from one of our district's veteran teachers, a hard-working, dedicated woman who rarely misses an opportunity to remind me that she and her colleagues would be doing a fine job were it not for unmotivated kids and their irresponsible parents. And Diane Ravitch weighed in, calling to mind, in tune with the season, the story of Scrooge and Tiny Tim, offering to "update this tale for today's school reformers" by calling attention to Ladd and Fiske's op-ed. (Ravitch says she uses Ladd'sEducation and Poverty paper in her post.)
What I don't understand in all of this is who exactly is claiming that class (or poverty or parents or kids) doesn't matter? Ladd and Fiske spend most of their essay stating the obvious: that socio-economic circumstance matters to education outcomes. The evidence that our policymakers and reformers are in denial of this salient fact?
Robert DeCock, via email:
Parents work very hard to get their children into college, and when that work pays off, they breathe a sigh of relief. After enduring mountains of paperwork, ruthless deadlines and constant second-guessing, the elusive acceptance letter suddenly makes it all worthwhile.Robert recently contacted me via the Madison Chamber of Commerce. I've met him once and found the conversation interesting. Contact him if you'd like to attend a Pre-College workshop or have questions.
But then come the really hard questions. How are we going to pay for this? What if, after all this work, my kid doesn't do well in school? What if he doesn't graduate? What if he can't get a decent job?
The key to college success is asking all of those questions much earlier. And that means starting the planning process itself much earlier.
How early? Think middle school. Seriously.
Starting early achieves a number of significant things:
As parents, you take control of the admissions and financial aid processes, rather than those processes taking control of you.
Your child develops an early sense of purpose as it relates to college - what areas of study interest him, what colleges fit his interests and his personality, and what careers might await
You turn the tables in the admissions process. Instead of hoping that a college says "yes" to your child, the college ends up hoping that your child will say "yes" to them
That last point is important. Colleges are in search of special students - those who stand the greatest chance of success during school and after graduation. Establishing early relationships with potential colleges can put your family in the position of "seller" instead of "buyer," giving you financial leverage and negotiating power. And when that happens, aid packages can go up dramatically - sometimes by $2,000...$5,000...even $10,000 per year.
For parents, an early start in college planning often results in significant tuition savings. For students, starting early greatly improves the chances of success during the college years and the post-graduation job market.
For both of you, there's an added benefit - less stress and a more enjoyable, rewarding experience.
Robert DeCock is a Certified College Planning Specialist (CCPS) with the National Institute of Certified College Planning Specialists. DeCock runs the Quest Pre-College Planning and Financial Aid Workshops, which provide hands-on, step-by-step, proven best practices for parents who want to minimize costs and maximize their child's opportunity for success. Visit www.qcollegeprogram.com or call 608.438.2941 for more information.
Robert is holding a Pre-College Workshop is on Thursday, January 12, 5-8:00. Contact him for details.
As concerns mount over the costs and benefits of higher education, it may be worthwhile to glance at the benefits of high school education at present as well. Of course, high school costs, while high, are borne by the taxpayers in general, but it is reasonable to hope that there are sufficient benefits for such an outlay.
In fact, 30 percent of ninth-grade students do not graduate with their class, so there is a major loss right there. In addition, it appears that a large fraction of our high school graduates who go on to college leave without taking any credential or degree within eight years. On November 17, 2008, the Boston Globe reported, "About two-thirds of the city's high school graduates in 2000 who enrolled in college have failed to earn degrees, according to a first-of- its-kind study being released today."1 The fact that this is a new study shows that the days of taking not just college, but high school education for granted may be ending as well. If public high schools were preparing their graduates (the 70 percent) adequately, they should be able to read and write in college.
Alternatives to high school are coming only slowly. Charter schools, some good and some bad, are being tried. Homeschooling serves some 1.5 million students, and some edupundits (and computer salesmen) are pushing for ever more use of virtual distance learning at the high school level.
At Dugsi Academy, a public school in St. Paul, Minnesota, girls wearing traditional Muslim headscarves and flowing ankle-length skirts study Arabic and Somali. The charter school educates "East African children in the Twin Cities," its website says. Every student is black.
At Twin Cities German Immersion School, another St. Paul charter, children gather under a map of "Deutschland," study with interns from Germany, Austria and Switzerland and learn to dance the waltz. Ninety percent of its students are white.
Six decades after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down "separate but equal" schools for blacks and whites, segregation is growing because of charter schools, privately run public schools that educate 1.8 million U.S. children. While charter-school leaders say programs targeting ethnic groups enrich education, they are isolating low-achievers and damaging diversity, said Myron Orfield, a lawyer and demographer.
Iowa's school population is shrinking at the same time it becomes poorer and more racially and ethnically diverse, according to an Iowa Department of Education report released Wednesday.
The Annual Condition of Education report compiles a variety of statistics from the previous school year.
Wednesday's 209-page report shows the continuation on several trends in Iowa's school systems across the state.
"It's useful in many ways," said Jay Pennington, the department's bureau chief of information and analysis services. "It provides local districts with a way to compare themselves with others in the state and provides the public with a lot of information about their district and others."
Highlights of the report include:
The most straightforward, clear and dispassionate vote taken on the Madison Preparatory Academy charter school proposal at last Monday's Madison Metropolitan School District Board meeting didn't even count. It was the advisory vote cast by the student representative, Philippo Bulgarelli.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
The School Board turned down the controversial proposal on a 5-2 vote, and after nearly five hours of public testimony, all the school board members gave speeches explaining how they arrived at their decisions. In addition to being the most succinct, Bulgarelli's statement penetrated all of the intense emotions and wildly divergent interpretations of data and personal anecdotes used to argue both for and against the proposal. Bulgarelli said that the students for whom he speaks did not have enough information to make a reasonably good decision, so he voted to abstain.
A headline-generating study, published in the journal Pediatrics this week, suggests that approximately one in three Americans is arrested before age 23. That's up from about one in five in 1965, the last time a similar study was conducted. The study used data from surveys given to the 7,335 people who enrolled in the federal government's National Longitudinal Survey of Youth in 1996.
This study, a recent joint initiative between the Departments of Justice and Education and a spate of anecdotal stories in the news all suggest a surge in the arrests of minors, and particularly in arrests that originate in schools. But the federal government is both fighting the "school-to-prison" pipeline while continuing to fund the same programs that critics say are causing it. Moreover, because the government hasn't been collecting data on school-based arrests, and the little available data shows overall arrests of juveniles are down, it's difficult to determine if a problem exists, much less whether federal initiatives are solving it -- or contributing to it.
Students in Democracy Prep High School's Korean classes typically learn words that boost their vocabulary and develop basic grammar -- standard fare for introductory foreign language instruction. But this week the lessons took a turn for the geopolitical.
Youngjae Hur greeted his students yesterday with an unusual pop quiz in English and asked them to define words such as "despotism," "denuclearize," and "repressive."
For Hur, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il's abrupt death over the weekend offered the school a unique opportunity to infuse what students learn about the South Korean language and culture every day with the politics that have shaped life on the Korean Peninsula for decades.
"It's important to let them know not just the skills to understand the language, but also the culture, the history, the politics," said Hur, a first-year teacher who moved to the United States from South Korea three years ago. "Especially at this special moment."
Changes to policies and procedures over the handling of funds will ensure that nothing like the theft of more than $300,000 from Fort High should occur again, the Rainy River District School Board said following the sentencing last Thursday of former FFHS secretary Fawn Lindberg.
"Obviously, there were some shortcomings in terms of oversight, both at the school and right through the board office--and those things hopefully have now all been corrected," noted board chair Michael Lewis.
A press release issued by the board called the theft a "systemic failure from the top down."
While Lindberg didn't have the authority to authorize or sign cheques, it was noted during last Thursday's court proceedings that a practice had developed whereby blank cheques would be signed in advance by the principal and vice-principal, who did have signing authority.
From June, 2005 to October, 2007, Lindberg fed a gambling addiction by stealing $312,426.45, using some 146 cheques she had made out in her name or to "cash."
The theft came to light in the fall of 2007 after a deficit of more than $175,000 was noticed by board administration and investigated.
The gap in grade point averages between male and female students widens when their college football team is winning.
As the college football season approaches its climax, a just-released set of statistics should give fans of Bowl-bound teams pause.
According to three University of Oregon economists, when a university's football team has a winning season, the grade point average of male students goes down.
At least, that was the case at their own school over the course of nine recent seasons. Given that the University of Oregon is "largely representative of other four-year public institutions," they have no reason to believe the equation won't apply elsewhere.
Improving the academic performance of at-risk high school students has proven difficult, often calling for an extended day, extended school year, and other expensive measures. Here we report the results of a program for at-risk 9th and 10th graders in Binghamton, New York, called the Regents Academy that takes place during the normal school day and year. The design of the program is informed by the evolutionary dynamics of cooperation and learning, in general and for our species as a unique product of biocultural evolution. Not only did the Regents Academy students outperform their comparison group in a randomized control design, but they performed on a par with the average high school student in Binghamton on state-mandated exams. All students can benefit from the social environment provided for at-risk students at the Regents Academy, which is within the reach of most public school districts.
One body of knowledge that we drew upon to design the Regents Academy is based on the work of Elinor Ostrom , , who received the Nobel Prize for economics in 2009. Ostrom is a political scientist by training but has become part of the evolutionary science community. Working primarily with groups attempting to manage common pool resources, she identified eight design features that contributed to the success of each group, which can also be used by groups attempting to achieve other shared objectives. Briefly, the design features are: 1) a strong group identity, including understanding and agreeing with the group's purpose; 2) benefits proportional to costs, so that the work does not fall unfairly on some individuals and unearned benefits on others; 3) consensus decision-making, since most people dislike being told what to do but will work hard to achieve their own goals; 4) low-cost monitoring, so that lapses of cooperation can be easily detected; 5) graduated sanctions to correct misbehaviors, which begin with friendly reminders and escalate only as needed; 6) conflict resolution that is fast and perceived as fair by group members; 7) sufficient autonomy for the group to make its own decisions without interference from other groups; 8) relations among groups that embody the same principles as the relations among individuals within the group. These design features are consilient with the general evolutionary dynamics of cooperation and the social environment of small-scale human societies throughout our own history as a species. Any educational program, including one for at-risk high school students, can potentially benefit from implementing these design features.
A second body of knowledge that we drew upon concerns development and psychological functioning, e.g., in benign vs. harsh environments -. The dysfunctions that arise from harsh environments are often interpreted as breakdowns of normal development and psychological functioning. While this is sometimes the case, evolutionary science offers an alternative possibility. Humans, like all species, are adapted to cope with harsh environments, but these adaptations involve tradeoffs with respect to long-term individual welfare and conduct toward others. Learning and cooperation to achieve long-term goals are eclipsed by the need to survive and reproduce over the short term. Some adaptations to harsh environments operate early in life and are difficult to reverse, such as the insecure attachment styles first documented by pioneering evolutionary psychologist John Bowlby , which has led to an extensive body of recent research . Other mechanisms operate in response to immediate circumstances and can be modified by providing a safer and more secure environment , . Most at-risk adolescents have experienced hardship throughout their lives, making it difficult for them to adapt to a safe and secure environment. Moreover, even if such an environment can be provided at school, the rest of their lives often remain harsh. Providing a safe and secure school environment might therefore not be sufficient, but it is surely necessary for at-risk students to cooperate and to achieve long-term goals.
A third body of knowledge that we drew upon concerns basic principles of learning that apply to many species , along with more specific adaptations for learning and cultural transmission in human groups , -. In a longitudinal study of students who were identified as gifted at the beginning of high school, Csikszentmihalyi et al.  examined the factors that led some to fulfill their promise and others to become merely average by the end of high school. It was primarily those who enjoyed what they were doing over the short term that developed their talents. The prospect of a long-term benefit, such as a career in science, was not sufficient to sustain day-to-day activities that were unrewarding. If this is true for the most gifted students, then it applies with even greater force for the most at-risk students . If cooperation and learning outcomes aren't rewarding over the short term (what B.F. Skinner called "selection by consequences" ), positive outcomes cannot be expected over the long term. In addition, human groups evolved adaptations for social learning and spreading information for thousands of years before the advent of any formal school program. In modern times, complex bodies of information are culturally transmitted in hunter gatherer and many traditional societies largely without formal instruction . Knowing how this occurs can help teachers shape their curriculum, instruction, and assessment to better maximize their students' natural tendencies to learn, and to make learning and teaching more spontaneous and self-organizing in modern classroom environments , .
The school would have offered a longer school day and year, higher standards and expectations, uniforms, mandatory extracurricular activities, same-sex classrooms, more minority teachers as role models, and stepped-up pressure on parents to get involved in their children's education.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Madison Prep represented a huge opportunity -- with unprecedented community support, including millions in private donations -- to attack the stubborn achievement gap for low-income and minority students.
But a majority of the School Board rejected Madison Prep, citing excuses that include a disputed clause in its teachers union contract and a supposed lack of accountability.
Wracked with frustration over the state's legions of unprepared high school graduates, the California State University system next summer will force freshmen with remedial needs to brush up on math or English before arriving on campus.Related: Madison's Math Task Force and K-12 Literacy Program Evaluation.
But many professors at the 23-campus university, which has spent the past 13 years dismissing students who fail remedial classes, doubt the Early Start program will do much to help students unable to handle college math or English.
"I'm not at all optimistic that it's going to help," said Sally Murphy, a communications professor who directs general education at Cal State East Bay, where 73 percent of this year's freshmen were not ready for college math. Nearly 60 percent were not prepared for college English.
"A 15-hour intervention is just not enough intervention when it comes to skills that should have been developed over 12 years," Murphy said.
The remedial numbers are staggering, given that the Cal State system admits only freshmen who graduated in the top one-third of their high-school class. About 27,300 freshmen in the 2010 entering class of about 42,700 needed remedial work in math, English or both.
Madison Urban League President Kaleem Caire fought hard to win approval of his Madison Prep project. But the Madison School Board ultimately rejected a plan that would have steered tens of millions of taxpayer dollars into a project that board members felt lacked sufficient oversight and accountability.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
The response of Caire and his fellow Madison Prep advocates was to suggest a variety of moves: the filing of a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice, or perhaps a request for state intervention to allow the project to go forward without state approval.
We would suggest another approach.
Caire has succeeded in garnering a good deal of support for Madison Prep. He could capitalize on that support and make a run for the School Board.
Changing the school board would either require: patience (just two of seven seats: Lucy Mathiak, who is not running after two terms and Arlene Silveira, who apparently is seeking a third term) are up in April, 2012 or a more radical approach via the current Wisconsin method (and Oakland): recalls. Winning the two seats may not be sufficient to change the Board, given the 5-2 no vote. Perhaps the "momentum", if realized, might sway a vote or two?
Perhaps the TAG complaint illustrates another approach, via the courts and/or different government agencies.
Kaleem Caire, via email
For Immediate Release: December 21, 2011Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Contact: Laura DeRoche-Perez
Director of School Development
Urban League of Greater Madison
2222 S. Park St., Suite 200
Madison, WI 53713
Madison, WI - This morning, the Board of Directors of Madison Preparatory Academy unanimously decided to pursue a set of actions that will assist with eliminating the racial achievement gap in the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD). These actions are consistent with the objectives of the Urban League of Greater Madison.
Specifically, Madison Prep's Board has committed to partnering with the Urban League of Greater Madison to:
Work with the Madison Metropolitan School District to ensure MMSD has a bold and effective plan for eliminating the racial achievement gap that embraces innovation, best practices and community engagement as core strategies.
Evaluate legal options that will ensure MMSD affirmatively and immediately addresses the racial achievement gap.
Establish Madison Preparatory Academy as an independent school within the boundaries of the Madison Metropolitan School District in August 2012 as a model of whole school reform and a necessary education option for disadvantaged children and families.
David Cagigal, Chair of Madison Prep's Board, shared that "Madison Prep is a necessary strategy to show how our community can eliminate the achievement gap and prepare our most vulnerable students for college. MMSD's rejection of our proposal does not change this fact."
Cagigal further stated that, "We look forward to engaging the Greater Madison community in addressing the racial achievement gap in Madison's public schools and supporting the establishment of Madison Prep next fall."
For more information, contact Laura DeRoche Perez, Director of School Development, Urban League of Greater Madison, at Lderoche@ulgm.org or 608-729-1230.
This email was sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by email@example.com |
Urban League of Greater Madison | 2222 S. Park Street | Suite 200 | Madison | WI | 53713
I am ambivalent. My state, Tennessee, is the first state that has implemented the annual teacher and principal evaluations as required by Race to the Top (RTT). In 2010, I was involved with writing Tennessee's successful RTT application, especially the section on "great teachers and leaders." In my state role, I celebrated the RTT requirement for annual teacher and principal evaluations based substantially on student growth as one of the most important levers to accelerate student achievement.
Now, in 2011, I am at the local level watching the fall-out. Although I still support annual teacher evaluations that include student achievement growth and regular teacher observation scores, it is clear that the initiative is off to a rocky start. And this has implications for more than just the educators and students in Tennessee. As noted in Education Week, many policymakers are concerned that the rocky implementation of Tennessee's new teacher evaluation system may hinder efforts in other states.
Supporters of a controversial charter school proposal geared toward low-income, minority students said Tuesday they will continue to fight to establish it next fall -- including possibly as a private school.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Their comments came Tuesday after the Madison School Board voted 5-2 early that day to reject a proposal for Madison Preparatory Academy, which would offer single-sex classrooms and a college preparatory curriculum.
The board didn't vote on an alternate proposal to approve the school but delay its opening until 2013.
David Cagigal, president of the Madison Prep board, said a private school would be expensive because the school's target low-income population wouldn't be able to afford tuition. Instead, the board would ask private donors to replace the roughly $9,300 per pupil it had sought from the School District.
"Maybe money is not the issue if we want to go ahead and prove our point," Cagigal said. "I can assure you we will persist with this idea of closing the achievement gap."
The proposed Madison Prep Charter School was voted down by the Madison school board on Monday. A bold proposal to address the achievement gap in Madison, Madison Prep supporters have a very good point- the status quo is not working for minority students.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
There wasn't any magic to the Madison Prep proposal: longer school year, extended school days, smaller class ratios, additional support services, we know these things work, and taken together these things would likely make a significant impact on student achievement. But all these things cost significant amounts of money which is ultimately the problem. What distribution of resources is the most effective and fair?
Sometimes it's possible to be absolutely right on the specifics of a thing and totally wrong about the big picture.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.a
That's what can be said about the Madison school board's decision the other night to reject the proposal for the Madison Preparatory Academy. Board members were correct to be concerned that their support for the academy could have violated their contract with the Madison teachers union, and they were right to be concerned about lack of oversight over public funds.
But what the Urban League was saying about the big picture remains paramount:
Some readers mentioned, after a recent Admissions 101 discussion of using the average SAT score of the incoming class to pick the school best for you, that this method might be ruined by the growing number of colleges that do not require SAT or ACT tests. Some even suggested that these test-optional colleges might look better than they are on some measures, like the ranked U.S. News college list, because the lowest scorers in their freshmen classes are the ones most likely not to reveal their scores, and thus by not revealing, raising the freshman class SAT or ACT average that forms part of the U.S. News formula.
Last week I wrote that it seemed hypocritical that average Madisonians and other liberals in city government and the left-leaning Madison press haven't been beating the drum for proposed charter school Madison Preparatory Academy.
The school's target clientele, after all, is one the left usually considers sympathetic: poor, disenfranchised minority youth historically denied access to educational opportunity.
But it took a reader to point out an even bigger elephant in this oddly somnolent room: UW-Madison.
It was only a few months ago that Madison's prime educational attraction and the jewel of the UW System mounted a vigorous and very public defense of attempts to create a more diverse student body through its affirmative action policies.
You'd think this powerful institution might also be showing a little love for a similar social justice cause in its own backyard.
Kaleem Caire, via email:
Dear Madison Prep,Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
First, thank you to all of you who have supported the Madison Prep effort to this point. Your volunteer hours, work on Design Teams, attendance at meetings, letters to the district and media, and many other acts of support have not gone unnoticed by the Urban League and Madison Prep.
In earlier morning hours today, the MMSD Board of Education voted 5-2 AGAINST Madison Prep. This outcome came after hours of testimony by members of the public, with Madison Prep supporters outnumbering opponents 2:1. Lucy Mathiak and James Howard voted YES for Madison Prep; Ed Hughes, Arlene Silviera, Beth Moss, Maya Cole, and Marj Passman voted NO. After the vote was taken, Ed Hughes made an amendment to the motion to establish Madison Prep in 2013 (rather than 2012) in order to avoid what some see as a conflict between Madison Prep and the teachers' union contract. Mr. Hughes' motion was not seconded; therefore there was no vote on establishing Madison Prep one year later.
While the Urban League and Madison Prep are shocked by last night's outcome, both organizations are committed to ensuring that Madison Prep becomes a reality for children in Madison. We will continue to press for change and innovation in the Madison Metropolitan School District and Dane County to ensure that the racial achievement gap is eliminated and that all children receive a high quality education that adequately prepares them for their future.
We will advance a number of next steps:
1.We will pursue different avenues, both public and private, to launch Madison Prep. We are still hopeful for an opening in 2012. There will be much the community will learn from Madison Prep and our children need this option now.
2.We will continue to coordinate community support and action to ensure that the Madison Metropolitan School District is accountable for eliminating the racial achievement gap. We will consider several strategies, such as implementing a Citizen Review Board that will hold the school board and district administration accountable for good governance, planning, implementation, execution, community engagement and student achievement results. We will also consider legal avenues to ensure MMSD understands and responds to the community's sense of urgency to address the sizable and decades-long failure rates of Black and Latino children.
3.We must also address the leadership vacuum in K-12 education in Madison. Because of this, we will ensure that parents, students and community members are informed of their rights and responsibilities, and have a better understanding of promising educational strategies to close the achievement gap. We will also work to ensure that they have opportunities to be fully engaged in planning, working and deciding what's best for the children educated in our public schools.
4.We will continue to work in collaboration with MMSD through our existing partnerships, and hope to grow these partnerships in the future.
Thank you for everything you have done and continue to do to ensure that children in our schools and families in our community have hope, inspiration, support and opportunity to manifest their dreams and make a difference in their own lives and the lives of others.
As expected, the Madison Metropolitan School Board voted 5 -2 last night against authorizing the Madison Prep charter school. Only two board members overseeing a school district with an African-American graduation rate below 50% saw fit to support a new approachMuch more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Those voting against the school did offer reasons. Board member Beth Moss told the Wisconsin State Journal she voted no because of concerns about the school's ability to serve students needing more than one year of remedial education. Board member Ed Hughes said he could not support the school until after the Madison teachers union contract expires in 2013.
But no worries, Superintendent Dan Nerad told the Wisconsin State Journal he has a plan:
There's nothing like standing in the schoolhouse door.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
For me, the Madison School Board's 5-2 vote to shoot down Madison Preparatory Academy, a proposed charter school specifically designed for low-income minority students, brings to mind images of George Wallace standing in the schoolhouse door to block the integration of the University of Alabama, or state officials blocking James Meredith's enrollment at the University of Mississippi.
If you think that's harsh, remember that those pieces of history were not only about Civil Rights and desegregation, they were about every person's right to pursue a quality education.
In the Madison Metropolitan School District, a 48% graduation rate among African American students indicates that quality has not been achieved. Not even close.
Fortunately, this is one dream that's not going to be allowed to die. Kaleem Caire, president of the Urban League of Greater Madison, is the driving force behind Madison Prep, and he isn't ready to wave the surrender flag.
Following the school board vote, Caire vowed to file a racial discrimination lawsuit with the U.S. Department of Justice, and he also urged supporters of Madison Prep to run for school board.
Love it, love it, love it.
At one point in the development of Madison Prep, Caire sounded optimistic that the school district was a real partner, but the majority of board members had other ideas. Caire and the Urban League did their best to address every objection critics put in their way, and now it's clear that the intent all along was to scuttle the project with a gauntlet of hurdles.
Kai Ryssdal: For those who haven't been in a modern public school classroom lately, there have been some changes since the days you had to whack the erasers together after class to clean them out. Chalkboards have been replaced not just by whiteboards, but by high-tech "smart" boards. Students are using laptops and iPads all over the place. In all, public schools spend roughly $3 billion a year on education technology -- things meant to make teaching faster, easier and better.
Change can be hard, but companies are trying to ease the transition. From the Marketplace Education Desk at WYPR, Amy Scott reports.
Q. What were some early management challenges for you?
A. At a school in Massachusetts where I once worked, we managed early on through consensus. Which sounds wonderful, but it was just a very, very difficult way to sort of manage anything, because convincing everybody to do one particular thing, especially if it was hard, was almost impossible.
Q. How big a group was this?
A. There were about 25 teachers and instructors and others. And very quickly I went from being this wonderful person, "Geoff is just so nice, he's just such a great guy," to: "I cannot stand that guy. He just thinks he's in charge and he wants to do things his way." And it was a real eye-opener for me because I was trying to change something that everybody was comfortable with. I don't think we were doing a great job with the kids, and I thought we could perform at a higher level.
Educators from across the state made a last-ditch effort Thursday to sway the state Education Board toward adopting their favorite of three teacher evaluation systems that next year will be used to evaluate every teacher in Oklahoma.
In the end, the board decided not to decide.
After an almost equal amount of support was expressed for two of the three systems, the board voted to adopt all three models for a one-year pilot.
School districts will be able to select any of the three models and will receive a portion of approximately $1.5 million in funding for the evaluation system based on student enrollment numbers.
"When I hear the dialogue back and forth about the strengths and weaknesses of these systems, I wonder if it's really about the strengths and weaknesses of these systems or if it's about who gets the money to further develop their model," said state Education Board Member Lee Baxter, of Lawton. "I'd like to find a way to not make this decision. I'd like to find a way to go through the pilot program and allow the districts to be involved with the evaluation system that they want to over a year's period of time."
Proponents of the Madison Preparatory Academy said they're looking to take legal action against the Madison Metropolitan School District after the school board voted against the proposed charter school.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
The Madison Board of Education put an end to the Madison Prep proposal with a 5-2 vote early Tuesday morning, and reaction was swift.
"Because (the school board members) don't take us seriously -- they will sit right up here and look in our face and not even know they're insulting us with the things that they say," said Kaleem Caire, president of the Urban League Of Greater Madison President, shortly after the vote. "We are going to turn our attention immediately, immediately, to address this legally."
In the last decade, we have emerged from the Education Stone Age. No longer must we rely on primitive tools like teachers and principals to assess children's academic progress. Thanks to the best education minds in Washington, Albany and Lower Manhattan, we now have finely calibrated state tests aligned with the highest academic standards. What follows is a look back at New York's long march to a new age of accountability.
DECEMBER 2002 The state's education commissioner, Richard P. Mills, reports to the state Regents: "Students are learning more than ever. Student achievement has improved in relation to the standards over recent years and continues to do so."
JANUARY 2003 New York becomes one of the first five states to have its testing system approved by federal officials under the new No Child Left Behind law. The Princeton Review rates New York's assessment program No. 1 in the country.
The donor whose $350 million gift will be critical in building Cornell University's new high-tech graduate school on Roosevelt Island is Atlantic Philanthropies, whose founder, Charles F. Feeney, is a Cornell alumnus who made billions of dollars through the Duty Free Shoppers Group.
Mr. Feeney, 80, has spent much of the last three decades giving away his fortune, with large gifts to universities all over the world and an unusual degree of anonymity. Cornell officials revealed in 2007 that he had given some $600 million to the university over the years, yet nothing on its Ithaca campus, where he graduated from the School of Hotel Management in 1956.
The $350 million gift, the largest in the university's history, was announced on Friday, but the donor was not named. Officials at Atlantic Philanthropies confirmed on Monday evening that it was Mr. Feeney, a native of Elizabeth, N.J., who is known for his frugality -- he flies coach, owns neither a home nor a car, and wears a $15 watch -- as well as his philanthropic generosity, particularly to medical research.
The Madison School Board voted early Tuesday morning against a charter school geared toward low-income minority students.Nathan Comp:
Moments later, Urban League of Greater Madison President Kaleem Caire announced to a crowd of emotional supporters that he planned to file a racial discrimination lawsuit with the U.S. Justice Department. He also urged the supporters to run for School Board.
"We are going to challenge this school district like they've never been challenged before, I swear to God," Caire said.
The School Board voted against the plan 5-2, as expected, just after midnight. In the hours leading up to the vote, however, hundreds of Madison Preparatory Academy supporters urged them to change their minds.
More than 450 people gathered at Memorial High School for public comments, which lasted more than four hours.
It was the first School Board meeting moved to Memorial since a 2001 debate over the Pledge of Allegiance in schools.
But the night's harshest criticism was leveled not at the proposal but at the board itself, over a perceived lack of leadership "from the superintendent on down."Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
"You meet every need of the unions, but keep minority student achievement a low priority," said one parent.
Others suggested the same.
"This vote is not about Madison Prep," said Jan O'Neill, a citizen who came out to speak. "It's about this community, who we are and what we stand for -- and who we stand up for."
Among the issues raised by opponents, the one that seemed to weigh heaviest on the minds of board members was the non-instrumentality issue, which would've allowed Madison Prep to hire non-union staff.
A work preservation clause in the district's collective bargaining agreement with the teacher's union requires the district to hire union staff. Board member Ed Hughes said he wanted to approve Madison Prep, but feared that approving a non-instrumentality school would put the district in breach of its contract with Madison Teachers, Inc.
"It's undeniable that Madison school district hasn't done very well by its African American students," he said. "But I think it's incumbent upon us to honor the contract."
(new charter school being opened in the MASH [Middleton Alternative Senior High School] building. This proposal got started less than a year ago, got a planning grant from DPI in August, and will open in the fall.)Middleton High School Black Students Find A Voice
It's Thursday morning and a group of students are seated around an oblong table in a classroom at Middleton High School.Much more on the Clark Street Community Charter School.
Most of the students are black. A few are white. Together they make up the school's Black Student Union (BSU), which was founded last year thanks in large part to the work of a few dedicated teen-agers. Today they are passing around a small toy, a black and white Holstein cow (the student holding the cow has the floor), and talking candidly about issues of race.
"I don't want us to be a joke," said one student. "I don't see other student organizations treated like a joke, and I want this one taken seriously, too."
Another turns her criticism inward, saying she feels it is important that African-American students not perpetuate negative stereotypes about themselves in the school's corridors.
Yet another suggests holding more public events and charitable activities, prompting one young woman to volunteer to prepare food for a bake sale.
In a casual conversation between an upper-middle-class parent and a senior faculty member at a four-year institution of higher education, the parent bemoaned the steep increase in the cost of sending his youngest daughter to college, compared to that of her eldest sibling. Clearly intimating that the substantial monetary difference went into the faculty member's pocket, the parent quipped, "I hope you are enjoying the car that I bought for you."
This parent's conclusion raises two questions -- one about rising costs and the other about faculty salaries. Addressing these questions must take into consideration various factors. First, for example, institutions of higher education vary widely. The answers here are limited to four-year public and private, nonprofit colleges and universities. Second, the sources of data vary in their objectivity and in their time periods. These answers identify the sources, which are reputable as not particularly skewed. Similarly, although not uniformly available for the same long-term period, the cited data cover at least 8-10 years so as not to rely on short-term changes.
Question 1: Have college prices to parents really risen steeply, when inflation, institutional financial aid grants, and other sources of "tuition discounting" are taken into account?
Part 1 here, (the introductory material is copied from there).Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
The discussion around the Madison Preparatory Academy (MPA) proposal and the related events and processes has been heated, but not always grounded in reality. Many have said that just having this conversation is a good thing. I don't agree. With myths being so prevalent and prominent, a productive conversation is nearly impossible. Since the vote is scheduled for Monday (12/19), I thought it would be good to take a closer -- fact based, but opinionated -- look at some of the myths. This is part two, although there are plenty of myths left to be examined, I've only gotten one up here. I may post more separately or in an update here on Monday.
Three things to get out of the way first.
One is that the meeting is now scheduled to be held at 6:00 Pm at the Memorial High School Auditorium and that for this meeting the sign up period to speak will be from 5:45 to 6:00 PM (only).
Second, much of the information on Madison Prep can be found on the district web page devoted to the topic. I'm not going do as many hyperlinks to sources as I usually do because much of he material is there already. Time constraints, the fact that people rarely click the links I so carefully include, and, because some of the things I'll be discussing presently are more along the lines of "what people are saying/thinking," rather than official statements, also played a role in this decision. I especially want to emphasize this last point. Some of the myths being examined come straight from "official" statements or sources, some are extensions of "official" things taken up by advocates, and some are self-generated by unaffiliated advocates.
Millions of learners have enjoyed the free lecture videos and other course materials published online through the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's OpenCourseWare project. Now MIT plans to release a fresh batch of open online courses--and, for the first time, to offer certificates to outside students who complete them.
The credentials are part of a new, interactive e-learning venture, tentatively called MITx, that is expected to host "a virtual community of millions of learners around the world," the institute will announce on Monday.
Here's how it will work: MITx will give anyone free access to an online-course platform. Users will include students on the MIT campus, but also external learners like high-school seniors and engineering majors at other colleges. They'll watch videos, answer questions, practice exercises, visit online labs, and take quizzes and tests. They'll also connect with others working on the material.
The first course will begin around the spring of 2012. MIT has not yet announced its subject, but the goal is to build a portfolio of high-demand courses--the kind that draw more than 200 people to lecture halls on the campus, in Cambridge, Mass. MIT is investing "millions of dollars" in the project, said L. Rafael Reif, the provost, and the plan is to solicit more from donors and foundations.
Carolyn Bucior now has greater respect for classroom teachers.
She also has a greater sense of annoyance at some teachers.
And she has a grasp on a generally ignored issue in education that has led to her voice being heard nationally.
Substitute teaching is usually looked at somewhat benignly as one of those things that is part of school life. Like everyone else, teachers get sick sometimes or have other reasons to be absent. So someone gets called in to fill in.
I suspect everyone knows this is unlikely to be productive. Goofing off (or worse) when a sub is in the classroom has been a staple of student life since schools were invented.
You have to have an adult keep an eye on what kids are doing, but to expect education to move forward when someone steps in cold is rarely realistic. Well, maybe to watch a video the teacher left behind.
A majority of the Madison School Board won't support opening next fall a controversial, single-sex charter school geared toward low-income minority students.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
But it's unclear whether a compromise proposal to start Madison Preparatory Academy in 2013 will gain enough votes Tuesday night when the board meets.
School Board members Beth Moss and Arlene Silveira were the latest to publicly express their opposition to the current proposal for the school.
Moss said Monday in a letter to the State Journal published on madison.com that she doesn't believe the school will help the neediest students. Silveira confirmed her opposition in an interview.
The seven-member board is scheduled to vote Tuesday night on the proposal.
For the last 17 months, I have followed the commentary and misinformation shared about our organization's proposal to establish Madison Preparatory Academy.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Some who have written and commented about our proposal have been very supportive; others don't think Madison Prep should exist. With less than 24 hours until the Madison School Board votes on the school, we would like to bring the public back to the central reasons why we proposed Madison Prep in August 2010.
First, hundreds of black and Latino children are failing to complete high school each year. In 2009, the Madison School District reported that 59 percent of black and 61 percent of Latino students graduated. In 2010, the percentage of graduates dropped to 48 percent for Black and 56 percent for Latino students. This not only has an adverse impact on our young people, their families and our community, it results in millions in lost revenue to the Madison district every year.
Second, in 2010, just 20 percent of the 387 black and 37 percent of the 191 Latino seniors enrolled in the district completed the ACT college entrance exam. The ACT is required for admission by all public colleges and universities in Wisconsin. Unfortunately, just 7 percent of black and 18 percent of Latino student who completed the ACT were "ready for college." This means that only 5 of 387 black and 13 of 191 Latino students were academically ready for college.
The motto of fee-paying Robert Gordon's College in Aberdeen is: "Now you should use all your masterly skills" (Omni nunc arte magistra).
Michael Gove, the education secretary, is a former pupil. Since his appointment, he has given every sign that he has taken the motto to heart. In a blizzard of reforms, his skill has been to appear charming, collaborative and collegiate, while exercising a determination to do it his way, "it" in this case being the radical remodelling of the education system.
Yesterday, a glimpse of how his affability camouflages an iron resolve was again revealed when it was announced that the final results of an independent review of the national curriculum, expected in the new year, will now be delayed for 12 months. Critics say the delay is driven by the minister's desire to stamp his authority on the review process.
The main principle of the Harlem Children's Zone is simple: When failure is not allowed, success prevails.
"Are your kids graduating high school? No. Are your kids going to college? No. That's not success," Geoffrey Canada, president and chief executive officer of the Harlem Children's Zone, asked a Buffalo audience Friday.
Canada, nationally recognized as an advocate for education reform, was the keynote speaker at the first Education Summit presented by the Community Action Organization of Erie County's Education Task Force.
Entitled "Power of Education -- Children First," the summit was held at the Adam's Mark Hotel in downtown Buffalo. The purpose was to advance the cause of educational reform in the interests of children across Western New York and explore how to create those opportunities. About 300 people attended.
Public employee union leaders Mary Bell and Marty Beil say the collective bargaining restrictions on their members enacted this year have galvanized the state's labor movement and paved the way for victory in potential recall elections in 2012.
But even if Dems are swept into the governor's office and the Senate majority, the union heads say they aren't necessarily seeking a complete return to the way things were before February.
"There has to be some changes ... has to be some tweaking there," said Beil (left), executive director of the Wisconsin State Employees Union. "But certainly not tweaking in the areas of the unions being able to bargain collectively for wages, hours and working conditions."
Bell, leader of the Wisconsin Education Association Council -- the state's largest teachers union -- added she's simply hoping for a collective bargaining environment that ensures the voice of workers and "whether that is the law we had or the law that we needed even then, I think, is the question."
"But the most important piece of this is that if you're going to make that kind of significant change, you do not do it without a conversation among the people that are affected," Bell told a WisPolitics.com luncheon. "That's what's been so offensive about the last year."
As No Child Left Behind becomes an ever bigger disaster, Secretary Duncan faces a major dilemma. How can he continue to enforce this law he has declared a train wreck?
Last spring, in an attempt to goad Congress into accepting his formula for revising No Child Left Behind, Education Secretary Arne Duncan made some dire predictions.
In his testimony, he said:
...we did an analysis which shows that -- next year -- the number of schools not meeting their goals under NCLB could double to over 80 percent -- even if we assume that all schools will gain as much as the top quartile in the state.
So let me repeat that: four out of five schools in America many not meet their goals under NCLB by next year. The consequences under the current law are very clear: states and districts all across American may have to intervene in more and more schools each year, implementing the exact same interventions regardless of the schools' individual needs.
The state has threatened to withhold $2.5 million in federal funding from the Brandywine School District because it believes it is not giving teachers enough time to plan how to best educate students.
State Department of Education officials decided to put the school district on notice after it was discovered it failed to properly implement required 90-minute common planning times for high school teachers.
The state has offered to help the school find a way to incorporate the program properly. But if that's not accomplished by next school year, the district stands to lose its portion of the state's Race to the Top grant.
At 12:30 am on June 10, 2002, Israel Lane Joubert and his family of seven set out for a long drive home following a family reunion in Beaumont, Texas. Joubert, who had hoped to reach home in faraway Fort Worth in time to get to work by 8 am, fell asleep at the wheel, plowing the family's Chevy Suburban into the rear of a parked 18-wheeler. He survived, but his wife and five of his six children were killed.
The Joubert tragedy underscores a problem of epidemic proportions among workers who get too little sleep. In the past five years, driver fatigue has accounted for more than 1.35 million automobile accidents in the United States alone, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The general effect of sleep deprivation on cognitive performance is well-known: Stay awake longer than 18 consecutive hours, and your reaction speed, short-term and long-term memory, ability to focus, decision-making capacity, math processing, cognitive speed, and spatial orientation all start to suffer. Cut sleep back to five or six hours a night for several days in a row, and the accumulated sleep deficit magnifies these negative effects. (Sleep deprivation is implicated in all kinds of physical maladies, too, from high blood pressure to obesity.)
Yesterday, the California Charter Schools Association caused a stir. The pro-charter group came out with a list of 10 independently-run schools it deemed underperforming -- and encouraged their respective school districts to close them when their 5-year contracts expire!
That list included West County Community High in Richmond, as my colleague Hannah Dreier reported in today's paper. Leadership High in San Francisco was also on it.
The complete list included 31 schools, but the association only published the names of those that are nearing the end of their 5-year terms and seeking a charter renewal.
Here's the reasoning behind the mov, from the news release:
When the Obama administration was seeking to drum up support for its education initiatives last spring, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told Congress that the federal law known as No Child Left Behind would label 82 percent of all the nation's public schools as failing this year. Skeptics questioned that projection, but Mr. Duncan insisted it was based on careful analysis.
President Obama repeated it in a speech three days later. "Four out of five schools will be labeled as failing," Mr. Obama said at Kenmore Middle School in Arlington, Va., in March. "That's an astonishing number."
Now a new study, scheduled for release on Thursday, says the administration's numbers were wildly overstated. The study, by the Center on Education Policy, a Washington research group headed by a Democratic lawyer who endorses most of the administration's education policies, says that 48 percent of the nation's 100,000 public schools were labeled as failing under the law this year.
You'll often hear the argument that half or almost half of all beginning U.S. public school teachers leave the profession within five years.
The implications of this statistic are, of course, that we are losing a huge proportion of our new teachers, creating a "revolving door" of sorts, with teachers constantly leaving the profession and having to be replaced. This is costly, both financially (it is expensive to recruit and train new teachers) and in terms of productivity (we are losing teachers before they reach their peak effectiveness). And this doesn't even include teachers who stay in the profession but switch schools and/or districts (i.e., teacher mobility).*
Needless to say, some attrition is inevitable, and not all of it is necessarily harmful, Many new teachers, like all workers, leave (or are dismissed) because they are just aren't good at it - and, indeed, there is test-based evidence that novice leavers are, on average, less effective. But there are many other excellent teachers who exit due to working conditions or other negative factors that might be improved (for reviews of the literature on attrition/retention, see here and here).
As chief financial officer for one of Illinois's largest school districts, Cheryl Crates watches the money.
Early this year, she was counting on $14 million more rolling in for Community Unit District 300, after the expiration of a tax break at Sears Holdings' 800-acre headquarters in Hoffman Estates; it is the Sears corporate campus, which includes an on-site auto center, walking trails and even a hair salon for employees. When Crates met with Hoffman Estates officials in March, she learned the money might not be coming after all because the tax break might not expire.
"I cried," Crates said. "The school district has cut for the last two years. We've had no wage increases, and we were planning on that revenue to bring down our class sizes. We have one algebra class with 47 students. It was devastating."
Crates and her school district had suddenly found themselves at the epicenter of Illinois's latest political and financial crisis, described by one lawmaker as round-robin blackmail among Midwestern states. Unless Illinois agreed to extend the tax break, Sears threatened to leave. The state of Ohio, for one, dangled $400 million in tax incentives as a lure.
Online learning--for students and for teachers is one of the fastest growing trends in educational uses of technology. The National Center for Education Statistics (2008) estimated that the number of K-12 public school students enrolling in a technology-based distance education course grew by 65 percent in the two years from 2002-03 to 2004-05. On the basis of a more recent district survey, Picciano and Seaman (2009) estimated that more than a million K-12 students took online courses in school year 2007-08.
Online learning overlaps with the broader category of distance learning, which encompasses earlier technologies such as correspondence courses, educational television and videoconferencing. Earlier studies of distance learning concluded that these technologies were not significantly different from regular classroom learning in terms of effectiveness. Policy makers reasoned that if online instruction is no worse than traditional instruction in terms of student outcomes, then online education initiatives could be justified on the basis of cost efficiency or need to provide access to learners in settings where face-to-face instruction is not feasible. The question of the relative efficacy of online and face-to-face instruction needs to be revisited, however, in light of today's online learning applications, which can take advantage of a wide range of Web resources, including not only multimedia but also Web based applications and new collaboration technologies. These forms of online learning are a far cry from the televised broadcasts and videoconferencing that characterized earlier generations of distance education. Moreover, interest in hybrid approaches that blend in-class and online activities is increasing. Policy makers and practitioners want to know about the effectiveness of Internet based, interactive online learning approaches and need information about the conditions under which online learning is effective.
One out of every 15 high school students smokes marijuana on a near daily basis, a figure that has reached a 30-year peak even as use of alcohol, cigarettes and cocaine among teenagers continues a slow decline, according to a new government report.
The popularity of marijuana, which is now more prevalent among 10th graders than cigarette smoking, reflects what researchers and drug officials say is a growing perception among teenagers that habitual marijuana use carries little risk of harm. That perception, experts say, is fueled in part by wider familiarity with medicinal marijuana and greater ease in obtaining it.
Although it is difficult to track the numbers, "we're clearly seeing an increase in teenage marijuana use that corresponds pretty clearly in time with the increase in medical marijuana use," said Dr. Christian Thurstone, medical director of the adolescent substance abuse treatment program at Denver Health and Hospital Authority, who was not involved in the study. Medical marijuana is legal in 16 states, including Colorado, and the District of Columbia.
One drive back from Dallas on Interstate 30 is indelibly etched into my memory. I was in the center lane. And just forward of me in the right lane, a soft-top Jeep slowly started drifting across all three lanes of traffic, never slowing down. I honked my horn to alert the driver, but the Jeep left the highway and slammed into the first wooden pike in a crash barrier, throwing the vehicle's rear end so high that I thought it might flip over.
Pulling onto the shoulder 50 or so feet ahead of the Jeep, I ran back, expecting the worst. But, while the driver was certainly going to be bruised, she was actually all right. So was her dog, in the front passenger floorboard. When I asked what had happened, she said she'd leaned over to pour some water into her dog's bowl on the floorboard and just wasn't paying attention. But I'd watched this accident unfold over five to seven seconds: She didn't just lean over for a second, she was completely oblivious to her loss of control of her vehicle until it crashed. I couldn't help but notice all the prescription bottles littering the Jeep's interior; one, filled the day before, was for Valium.
Because I had my cell phone with me, I had called Arlington 911 before I ever made it to her wreck.
The Madison Metropolitan School District has a problem educating minority pupils. Less than 50 percent of African-Americans graduate in four years and only 31 percent even take the ACT, an important prerequisite for admittance to four-year colleges. Yet the Madison School Board appears poised to vote down Kaleem Caire's promising proposal to educate the very demographic the district has proved incapable of reaching.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Caire's proposed school, Madison Prep, has several attributes that differentiate it from traditional MMSD schools. Among other things the school would have an extended school day and offer an International Baccalaureate program. Both features have proven track records in schools in Milwaukee.
Much has been made of the fact that there is no guarantee that Madison Prep would be successful. Well no, but the strength of the charter model is that, if the school is unsuccessful, the MMSD board is empowered to terminate its contract. Given the achievement levels of Madison's minority students, any hesitation of the board to try the innovative model is inexplicable.
Worse yet, the reasons for rejecting Madison Prep are divorced from education. The proposed school is a non-instrumentality charter, meaning the School Board authorizes the school but the school is not required to use MMSD employees, including union teachers. Madison Teachers Inc. Executive Director John Matthews finds this problematic, telling The Capital Times that the Madison Prep proposal could "easily be implemented" if it was an instrumentality school employing union teachers. Perhaps it would be easier, but it would also take away from Caire's goal of raising minority student achievement. There are key advantages to the non-instrumentality structure, most notably the ability to assemble and compensate a staff free from the pay schedule and work rules contained in the MTI contract.
I want to support the Urban League's Madison Prep charter school proposal. It is undeniable that the Madison School District has not done well by its African-American students. We need to accept that fact and be willing to step back and give our friends at the Urban League an opportunity to show us a better way.One wonders what additional hurdles will appear between now and 2013, should the District follow Ed's proposal. Kaleem Caire:
The issue is far more complicated than this, however. There are a number of roadblocks on the path to saying yes. I discuss these issues below. Some are more of an obstacle than others.
The biggest challenge is that a vote in favor of Madison Prep as it is currently proposed amounts to a vote to violate our collective bargaining agreement with our teachers. I see no way around this. I believe in honoring the terms of our contracts with our employees. For me, this means that I have to condition my support for Madison Prep on a one-year delay in its opening.
Most other obstacles and risks can be addressed by including reasonable provisions in the charter school contract between the school district and Urban League.
For the last 16 months, we have been on an arduous journey to develop a public school that would effectively address the educational needs of children who have under-performed or failed to succeed in Madison's public schools for at least the last 40 years. If you have followed the news stories, it's not hard to see how many mountains have been erected in our way during the process.Monday's vote will certainly reflect the District's priorities.
Some days, it has felt like we're desperately looking at our children standing dangerously close to the edge of a cliff, some already fallen over while others dangling by their thumbs waiting to be rescued; but before we can get close enough to save them, we have to walk across one million razor blades and through thousands of rose bushes with our bare feet. As we make our way to them and get closer, the razor blades get sharper and the rose bushes grow more dense.
Fortunately, our Board members and team at the Urban League and Madison Preparatory Academy, and the scores of supporters who've been plowing through the fields with us for the last year believe that our children's education, their emotional, social and personal development, and their futures are far more important than any pain we might endure.
In Oakland, recall is in the air.
As some citizens collect signatures to recall Mayor Jean Quan, another group named Concerned Parents and Community Coalition is trying to oust five of the seven Oakland school board directors. It's targeting those who voted `yes' on the proposal this fall to close elementary schools: Jody London, David Kakishiba, Jumoke Hinton Hodge, Gary Yee, and Chris Dobbins.
The school board meets tonight, and members of the coalition planned to march to the district office from nearby Laney College at 4 p.m. and present the directors with intent to gather signatures for a recall. Our photographer went out there around 4:30 p.m. and found about six people, not counting reporters.
(7:15 p.m. UPDATE: More supporters have packed the board room. Board President Jody London turned off the mic after Joel Velasquez, of Concerned Parents, went over the time limit. London later called a recess as he continued to speak, with the help of supporters, in Occupy "mic-check" fashion. People then began chanting "Stop closing schools!" and "Recall!")
The public debate about the success and expansion of charter schools often seems to gravitate toward a tiny handful of empirical studies, when there is, in fact, a relatively well-developed literature focused on whether these schools generate larger testing gains among their students relative to their counterparts in comparable regular public schools. This brief reviews this body of evidence, with a focus on high-quality state- and district-level analyses that address, directly or indirectly, three questions:Download the "Policy Brief here (PDF).
Do charter schools produce larger testing gains overall?
What policies and practices seem to be associated with better performance?
Can charter schools expand successfully within the same location?
The available research suggests that charter schools' effects on test score gains vary by location, school/student characteristics and other factors. When there are differences, they tend to be modest. There is tentative evidence suggesting that high-performing charter schools share certain key features, especially private donations, large expansions of school time, tutoring programs and strong discipline policies. Finally, while there may be a role for state/local policies in ensuring quality as charters proliferate, scaling up proven approaches is constrained by the lack of adequate funding, and the few places where charter sectors as a whole have been shown to get very strong results seem to be those in which their presence is more limited. Overall, after more than 20 years of proliferation, charter schools face the same challenges as regular public schools in boosting student achievement, and future research should continue to focus on identifying the policies, practices and other characteristics that help explain the wide variation in their results.
The Madison Metropolitan School District's Board of Education vote on the proposed charter school, Madison Preparatory Academy, is just around the corner.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
We have heard from school board members, business leaders, teachers and other members of the community. It's safe to say that this is one of the most important issues in this city's history. While I am happy that Madison is finally having the long overdue conversation about how we educate our students who are falling through the cracks, I am not happy that the Urban League of Greater Madison and the school district couldn't come together to agree on a solution. In fact, it bothers me greatly.
It is a huge mistake to have this yearlong discussion come down to a contentious school board vote on Dec. 19. Both sides needed to come together to figure out a way to make Madison Prep a reality before that meeting.
Madison Metropolitan School District Superintendent Dan Nerad and various members of the school board say approving Madison Prep would violate the current contract with Madison Teachers, Inc. So, if 2012 isn't feasible, committing to a date to open Madison Prep's doors in 2013, and using the next three to six months to figure out the terms of that agreement should have been an option. But, unfortunately, that's not going to happen. Instead we have a school district and a civil rights organization arguing over ways to address the achievement gap and graduation rates. Not a good look. And the future relationship between the MMSD and the African American community could hang in the balance.
The Michigan House of Representatives voted Wednesday night to approve Senate Bill 618, which will lift the state's various caps on charter schools, House sources have confirmed. If and when the bill is signed by Governor Rick Snyder, it will go into law. The bill was passed 58-49, according to the Michigan Information & Resource Service (MIRS).
SB 618 had been tie-barred to a group of other Senate bills in the so-called "parent empowerment package," which means they all would've had to pass for any to take effect. But that tie-bar was broken when the House Education Committee approved SB 618 at its Nov. 30 meeting.
Some 35 amendments were offered, according to a House source. Several were approved. Perhaps the most consequential among the amendments phases in the lifting of the cap on charter schools, allowing up to 300 to be established through the end of 2012, 500 through 2014, and starting in 2015, no cap at all.
State Rep. Jeff Irwin, who represents Ann Arbor in Lansing, said that the "huge, gaping problem" in the bill, lifting the cap all at once, was addressed but he still wasn't happy with the way the bill turned out. None of the amendments proposed by Democrats passed, Irwin said; they weren't even brought to a vote.
As students gain access to sophisticated gadgets both at school and at home, educators are on the lookout for new kinds of cheating. From digitally inserting answers into soft drink labels to texting each other test answers and photos of exams, kids are finding new ways to get ahead when they haven't studied.
YouTube alone has dozens of videos that lay out step-by-step instructions: One three-minute segment shows how to digitally scan the wrapper of a soft drink bottle, then use photo editing software to erase the nutrition information and replace it with test answers or handy formulas. The video has gotten nearly 7 million hits.
Marriage rates in the US have hit an all-time low, as economic forces and social shifts have pushed couples to delay or avoid matrimony, according to an analysis of census data by the Pew Research Center.
Just 51 per cent of people over age 18 are married today, compared to 57 per cent in 2000 and 72 per cent in 1960, with trends pointing toward wedded couples becoming a social minority within a few years.
"Public attitudes about the institution of marriage are mixed," the report said. "Nearly four-in-10 Americans say marriage is becoming obsolete," yet most people who have never married say they would like to some day.
A sharp drop in marriages occurred between 2009 and 2010 when the US economy was in recession, with new nuptials declining 5 per cent. Young people, in particular, drove the rates down, as marriage rates fell 13 per cent among 18 to 24 year olds.
It looks like the biggest traffic jam in California next year may well be the various tax increases being pushed for the November ballot.
So far, at least five big tax measures are in play. Think Long Committee for California, a group of high-powered movers and shakers funded by billionaire Nick Berggruen, has proposed a $10 billion revenue increase by expanding the sales tax to services. A teachers' union is advocating an income tax increase on those who earn more than $1 million annually to fund schools. Environmental activists are trying to generate $1.1 billion for clean energy by taxing out-of-state businesses. Another measure would tax oil and gas generation to help pay for education and state universities.
And then there's Gov. Jerry Brown's recently announced measure to temporarily increase the sales tax and bump up income tax rates for the state's top earners. Brown had hoped to have a ballot measure last June to extend a temporary increase in income, sales and vehicle license fee rates that went into effect in 2009, but was unable to coax a single Republican legislator into voting even to put such an extension on the ballot. Hence, the tax increases have all expired.
George W. Bush is writing a sequel to his big education act. The No Child Left Behind law was signed almost a decade ago, with overwhelming approval from Congress (384 to 45 in the House and 91 to 8 in the Senate). Now, amid a bipartisan effort to gut its accountability measures, the former President is quietly pushing new education-reform initiatives aimed at improving and empowering school principals, who too often lack the training or authority to effectively run their schools. And once again, he's approaching this massive education problem by blurring political lines.
I was invited in my role as TIME's education columnist to sit in on a small meeting this week that Bush organized in New York City, and I was struck by the roster of advisers he had assembled to guide the George W. Bush Institute's education work. The group included some big names in the education non-profit world as well as leaders of traditional public schools and charter schools. But by my informal count, most of the 10 people around the table were Democrats, including Clinton and Obama administration alums. "He cares about education deeply, and he gets it," one staunchly Democratic education consultant, who now works with the institute, told me. The former President has already recruited officials from his administration as well as liberal stalwarts like Amy Wilkins of the Education Trust and Democratic education leaders like former North Carolina Governor James Hunt.
The University of California, Berkeley, announced Wednesday that it would offer far more financial aid to middle-class students starting next fall, with families earning up to $140,000 a year expected to contribute no more than 15 percent of their annual income, in what experts described as the most significant such move by a public institution.
As state budget cuts have led to rising tuition and fees at the University of California and other prestigious campuses across the nation, the middle class has increasingly been squeezed out of what was long seen as higher education's best balance between quality and affordability.
At Berkeley, officials said, the number of low-income and wealthy students has grown over the last several years, while the number from middle-class families has remained flat. That has raised concerns that some of the state's best and brightest are choosing private schools whose generous financial aid can erase differentials in sticker price or not enrolling at all. The cost of a year at Berkeley has risen sharply to $32,000.
Don Severson, via a kind email:
The Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education will vote December 19, 2011, on the Madison Preparatory Academy proposal for non-instrumentality charter school authorization. Active Citizens for Education endorses and supports the approval of the proposal.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
In addition to the rationale and data cited by the Urban League of Greater Madison, and significant others throughout the Madison community, supporting the curricular, instructional, parental and behavioral strategies and rigor of the school, ACE cites the following financial and accountability support for approval of the Academy as a non-instrumentality charter school.
The MMSD Board of Education is urged to approve the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy non-instrumentality charter school proposal; thereby, relieving the bondage which grips students and sentences them to a future lifetime of under-performance and lack of opportunities. Thank you.
- Financial: Should the Board deny approval of the proposal as a non-instrumentality the District stands to lose significant means of financial support from state aids and property tax revenue. The District is allowed $10,538.54 per student enrolled in the District the 2011-12 school year. With the possibility of Madison Prep becoming a private school if denied charter school status, the 120 boys and girls would not be enrolled in MMSD; therefore the District would not be the beneficiary of the state and local revenue. The following chart shows the cumulative affect of this reduction using current dollars:
2012-2013 6th grade 120 students @10,538.54 = $1,264,624.80
2013-2014 2 grades 240 students @10,538.54 = $2.529,249.60
2014-2015 3 grades 360 students @10,538.54 = $3,793,874.40
2015-2016 4 grades 480 students @10,538.54 = $5,058,499.20
2016-2017 5 grades 600 students @10,538.54 = $6.323.124.00
2017-2018 6 grades 720 students @10,538.54 = $7,587,748.80
2018-2019 7 grades 840 students @10,538.54 = $8,852,373.60
This lost revenue does not include increases in revenue that would be generated from improved completion/graduation rates (currently in the 50% range) of Black and Hispanic students resulting from enrollees in a charter school arrangement.
- Accountability: The MMSD Administration and Board have been demonstrating a misunderstanding of the terms 'accountability' and 'control'. The State charter school law allows for the creation of charter schools to provide learning experiences for identified student groups with innovative and results-oriented strategies, exempt from the encumbrances of many existing state and local school rules, policies and practices. Charter schools are authorized and designed to operate without the 'controls' which are the very smothering conditions causing many of the problems in our public schools. The resulting different charter school environment has been proven to provide improved academic and personal development growth for learners from the traditional school environment. Decreasing impediments and controls inhibiting learning increases the requirements for 'accountability' to achieve improved learner outcomes on the part of the charter school. Should the charter school not meet its stated and measurable goals, objectives and results then it is not accountable and therefore should be dissolved. This is the 'control' for which the Board of Education has the authority to hold a charter school accountable.
Let us describe an analogy. Private for-profit business and not-for-profit organizations are established to provide a product and/or service to customers, members and the public. The accountability of the business or organization for its continued existence depends on providing a quality product/services that customers/members want or need. If, for whatever reasons, the business or organization does not provide the quality and service expected and the customer/member does not obtain the results/satisfaction expected, the very existence of the business/organization is jeopardized and may ultimately go 'out of business'. This scenario is also absolutely true with a charter school. It appears that the significant fears for the MMSD Administration and Board of Education to overcome for the approval of the proposed non-instrumentality Madison Prep charter school are: 1) the fear of loss of 'control' instead of accepting responsibility for 'accountability', and 2) the fear that 'some other organization' will be successful with solutions and results for a problem not addressed by themselves.
Contact: Don Severson, President, 608 577-0851, firstname.lastname@example.org
Don Severson, via a kind email:
(Madison, WI) The Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education will make a decision at its regular meeting December 19th regarding the Urban League of Greater Madison (ULGM) proposal for a non-instrumentality charter school. Active Citizens for Education (ACE) has discussed several issues related to the proposal with the Board of Education, administration and with ULGM.
The Board of Education, in its deliberations, must weigh several implications and consequences for the schools, students, parents and the taxpaying public.
In its public statement, ACE will announce its position on the
financial implications of the proposal for future MMSD budgets and the taxpayers; how the issues of "control" and "accountability" relate to the authority of the Board of Education regarding approval or non-approval of the charter school proposal; and Madison Preparatory Academy over-all proposal.
The media conference will be held
December 15, 2011 (Thursday)
12:30 PM, Conference Room
Genesis Enterprise Center (GEC)
313 West Beltline Highway (off Rimrock Road to the west)
Mr. Severson will be available for questions and comments following the media conference.
BARACK OBAMA invited a puzzling group of people into the White House on December 5th: university presidents. What should one make of these strange creatures? Are they chief executives or labour leaders? Heads of pre-industrial guilds or champions of one of America's most successful industries? Defenders of civilisation or merciless rack-renters?
Whatever they might be, they are at the heart of a political firestorm. Anger about the cost of college extends from the preppiest of parents to the grungiest of Occupiers. Mr Obama is trying to channel the anger, to avoid being sideswiped by it. The White House invitation complained that costs have trebled in the past three decades. Arne Duncan, the secretary of education, has urged universities to address costs with "much greater urgency".
A sense of urgency is justified: ex-students have debts approaching $1 trillion. But calm reflection is needed too. America's universities suffer from many maladies besides cost. And rising costs are often symptoms of much deeper problems: problems that were irritating during the years of affluence but which are cancerous in an age of austerity.
Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad said Wednesday he will unveil next month a new plan for improving the achievement of low-income minority students.Superintendent Nerad's former District; Green Bay offers three "magnet options":
The plan will summarize the district's current efforts as well as put forth new approaches, such as a longer school year and opening magnet schools, Nerad said.
Nerad discussed the plan in a meeting with the State Journal editorial board less than a week before the School Board is to vote on Madison Preparatory Academy, a proposed charter school geared toward low-income, minority students.
Nerad said he opposes the current proposal for Madison Prep primarily because it would violate the district's contract with its teachers union, but that he agrees with the charter school's supporters in that a new approach to close the achievement gap is necessary.
"I made a purposeful decision to not bring (a plan) forward over the past several months to not cloud the discussion about Madison Prep," Nerad said. "It's caused us to take a step back and say, 'We're doing a lot of things, but what else do we need to be doing?'"
Here's a quote from an on-line comment of a Madison Prep opponent responding to one of the several op-ed pieces posted in the Cap Times in recent days: "There are barriers to students with special education needs, barriers to students with behavioral needs, and barriers to kids who rely on public transportation. These children are simply not the 'right fit'. It is Madison Prep's proposal to leave these kids in their neighborhood schools."Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
The notion seems to be that Madison Prep may not be welcoming for students from all points along the spectrum of educational needs, even though our neighborhood schools are obligated to serve everyone.
I think the self-selection process for Madison Prep should be taken into account in assessing how its students perform. But it does not trouble me that the school is not designed to meet the needs of all our students. No one need apply to attend and no student will be denied current services or programs if Madison Prep is authorized.
Thirteen high schools won high praise for their soaring graduation rates during the Miami-Dade School Board's last meeting for the year Wednesday.Related: Excellence in Education explains Florida's reading reforms and compares Florida's NAEP progress with Wisconsin's at the July 29th Read to Lead task force meeting.
Overall, Miami-Dade County's public schools hit their highest graduation rate ever, nearly 78 percent -- higher than Broward County's and just shy of the state's 80 percent rate.
But the celebration came with a warning: Next year could be very different.
There is a new FCAT 2.0 and, in the pipeline, a new scoring scale for that exam, plus more weight on reading and a new grading model for state-issued letter grades. Other changes in 2012: More tests will be administered via computers and new end-of-course exams will be given in geometry and biology.
"As we celebrate this year's outstanding graduation accomplishments, it's important to inform the community what's happening in Tallahassee and across our state," said Superintendent Alberto Carvalho. "The new standards are going to change the game for all of us."
Parts of the new standards are still being developed. On Monday, the State Board of Education will consider proposed new scoring levels for the FCAT 2.0 and the algebra end-of-course exam.
A Chicago Board of Education meeting came to a sudden halt Wednesday when a raucous group of protesters from the Chicago Teachers Union, Occupy Chicago and other organizations erupted into a chorus of chants denouncing board members.
It was the first board meeting since Chicago Public Schools announced a series of closings, consolidations and turnarounds that could affect 21 schools on the city's South and West sides. While none of those actions were being voted on, the agenda included the approval of 12 new charter schools.
The protesters drowned out the voice of CPS chief executive Jean-Claude Brizard, who had just begun a presentation to board members. "You have failed...You have produced chaos...You should be fired" they chanted.
When they paused, board president David Vitale said he hoped they had "gotten it out of their system," which set off another round of shouting.
Welcome to the third edition of the relaunched Learning Matters podcast. In this episode, Learning Matters web producer Ted Bauer speaks with UPenn vice dean and professor Doug Lynch about various issues in education, including his business plan competition. Lynch draws pointed contrasts between corporate education and public education, and is candid about the notion of success and failure within the field. Enjoy the conversation.
There's a longstanding myth of a gender gap between boys' and girls' math performance, suggesting some basic biological difference in how the two genders approach math. It's deeply controversial and widely discredited. And now, a new study has completely debunked it.
Until now, there was maybe a sliver of statistical data to support the existence of this gender gap -- nothing remotely convincing, mind you, but just enough that the idea couldn't be entirely dismissed out of hand. While most who studied the issue pointed for cultural or social reasons why girls might lag behind boys in math performance, there was still room for biological theories to be proposed.
The best-known of these is the "greater male variability hypothesis", which basically says ability among males varies more widely than that of females, which means you'll see more males at the extreme ends of the spectrum, good and bad. Then-Harvard president Larry Summers infamously put forward this idea back in 2005 as a way to explain the lack of great female mathematicians, and this was one of about a dozen different factors that ultimately cost him his job.
School districts across Wisconsin have made strides toward reforming the state's teacher evaluation process by implementing new merit-based salaries for teachers under new powers provided by the budget repair legislation.
Under Gov. Scott Walker's controversial legislation, bargaining units for teachers are still able to negotiate base wages, but cannot negotiate other areas, including certain funds allocated for teacher performance. The bill now gives more authority to district leaders to make changes in working conditions, hours and compensation systems for teachers and staff.
Cedarburg School District in eastern Wisconsin is one of many schools making a move toward the merit-pay system for teachers. The district's superintendent, Daryl Herrick, said the new criteria for pay would be based on a new evaluation model.
"There would be teachers in three-year cycles," Herrick said. "There will be varied activities in the cycles where both the evaluator and the teacher provide direct observations to indicate their performance levels. We'll also have a goal-setting process in order to determine performance."
Appearances suggest Madisonians would be sympathetic to Madison Preparatory Academy.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School, here.
Here is a citizenry known for its progressivism, inclusiveness and embrace of the disenfranchised.
And here is a five-year educational experiment aimed at helping students of darker skin and lesser means who are sometimes only a couple of years removed from failing schools in Chicago and Milwaukee.
I guess appearances can be deceiving.
On Monday, the Madison School Board is likely to go along with district administrators' recommendation to vote down a five-year charter for Madison Prep, a project of the Urban League of Greater Madison that would aim to improve the performance and life prospects of students the district has so far failed to reach.
I suspect Madison Prep's future wouldn't be so dire if over the last year Madison's supposedly liberal power structure had been willing to take up its cause.
My decision to vote against the Madison Prep proposal is very difficult. I pushed for the planning grant over a year ago when only one other School Board member would sponsor the proposal.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School, here.
I raised many questions because of the complex scope of the Urban League's proposal for a charter school that aims to reduce the achievement gap between white and minority students. My concerns come down to this: Will this proposal be the best investment for the most students? Is this college-prep program the area of focus that would best serve the many struggling students in our district?
The fundamental conclusion I came to over the course of a year is that this proposal would put the district at risk legally and would challenge our district philosophy pertaining to special education students. Perhaps more importantly, the proposal constructs undue barriers such as mandatory information meetings, fundraising and parent contracts. These admission policies would have the effect of excluding students based on language background, prior academic performance, or parental self-selection.
My decision has nothing to do with defending the status quo or protecting the union. However, as a School Board member, parent and neighbor to many children in our district, I believe we have some of the most dedicated and knowledgeable staff in education today.
The bigger question here is whether bankruptcy would actually help any of these struggling districts. Debts could be restructured and bondholders paid off, but would the districts be in any better shape? It's not even clear to me that a higher level of state oversight would make a difference. The state might just know sooner that it has to find the money for a bailout. And with revenues falling everywhere, it would probably be impossible for the state to insist that all at-risk districts bulk-up their reserve funds.
Throwing up your hands probably isn't an option, however, when it comes to public education. But obviously in close to a fifth of the state's school districts, cost structures aren't able to cope with major budget shocks, at the state or local level. And remember, the state's population is growing -- it could hit 48 million by 2020. A well-educated workforce is something that California will urgently need to remain competitive in the 21st century. But in order to have that, the state is going to need to do something to stabilize the finances of its public education system. And before that...deal with the falling axe of the trigger cuts.
For many students who take a foreign language, the highest authority they have to answer to is their teacher.
But for some of the 220 students who study Japanese at St. Paul's School in Brooklandville, Monday offered an opportunity to show their skills for an expert guest: Japan's ambassador to the United States
Japanese Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki and his wife, Yoriko, were accompanied by Takahisa Murakami, Counselor of Education for the Japanese Embassy, and Takayuki Iriya, Fujisaki's first secretary, to sample Japanese educational offerings at St. Paul's School in Brooklandville.
It's the kind of calculation that ruffles the robes of administrators at the most prestigious universities in the country. It's a blunt bottom-line approach to a postsecondary education, a show-me-the-money college survey. And it's one academic contest that the Ivies don't win.
For decades, the best-known college rankings have tried to encompass everything from alumni giving and "academic reputation" to dorm amenities. But a few years ago, SmartMoney stripped all that away in favor of a simpler benchmark. With help from PayScale, a Seattle-based compensation-data company that maintains salary profiles of 29 million workers, we collected median pay figures for two pools of each school's alums: recent grads (who've been out of school for an average of two years) and midcareer types (an average of 15 years out). For each class, we divided the median alumnus salary by tuition and fees (assuming they paid full price at then-current rates), averaged the results and, finally, converted that result to a percentage figure. The outcome: a measure of return on (tuition) investment that we've dubbed the Payback Score. For example, a hypothetical grad who spent $100,000 to attend college and now earns $150,000 a year would score 150. The higher the score, obviously, the better.
Last week, I posted an item that asked readers for their suggestions on how to reform Michigan schools. It drew a good number of comments, and I'll be posting some of them later this week.
But today I'm offering offering more food for thought, in the form of a memo written by my good friend Tim Bartik, an economist for the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research and a former school board president for Kalamazoo Public Schools. Through his work as an economist and as a school board member, Bartik is one of the best-informed people around on best-practices in education and here's what he has to say:
This week's map takes advantage of new migration data recently released by the IRS. It shows, for the year 2009, the net annual income of all migrants to and from each state to other states, as a percentage of that state's aggregate income. (Foreign migration is deliberately excluded.) At the top of the list is Montana, where migrants, in a single year, brought with them a net income totaling more than 1% of the state's entire annual income. At the bottom is Michigan, where migrants leaving the state took with them 0.43% of Michigan's entire annual income.
The Urban League's proposal to create a Madison Preparatory charter school is, at its heart, a proposal about public education in our community. Although the discussions often boil down to overly simplistic assertions about whether one position or the other is supportive of or hostile toward public education, it is not that simple. What we are facing is a larger and more fundamental question about our values when it comes to the purpose of public education and who it is supposed to serve.Also posted at the Capital Times.
I am voting "yes" because I believe that strong public education for all is the foundation for a strong society. While our schools do a very good job with many students who are white and/or living above the poverty line, the same cannot be said for students of color and/or students living in poverty. The record is most dismal for African American students.
The Madison Prep proposal is born of over 40 years of advocacy for schools that engage and hold high academic expectations for African American and other students of color. That advocacy has produced minor changes in rhetoric without changes in culture, practice, or outcome. Yes, some African American students are succeeding. But for the overwhelming majority, there are two Madison public school systems. The one where the students have a great experience and go on to top colleges, and the one that graduates only 48% of African American males.
The individual stories are heartbreaking, but the numbers underscore that individual cases add up to data that is not in keeping with our self-image as a cutting edge modern community. We ALL play a role in the problem, and we ALL must be part creating a sound, systemic, solution to our failure to educate ALL of our public school students. In the meantime, the African American community cannot wait, and the Madison Prep proposal came from that urgent, dire, need.
Our track record with students and families of color is not improving and, in some cases, is going backward rather than forward as we create more plans and PR campaigns designed to dismiss concerns about academic equality as misunderstandings. To be sure, there are excellent principals, teachers, and staff who do make a difference every day; some African American students excel each year. But overall, when presented with opportunities to change and to find the academic potential in each student, the district has failed to act and has been allowed to do so by the complicit silence of board members and the community at large.
A few turning points from the past year alone:
The single most serious issue this year, however, came in May when MMSD administration was informed that we are a District Identified for Improvement (DIFI) due to test scores for African American students along with students from low income families and those with learning disabilities. This puts Madison on an elite list with Madison (Milwaukee?) and Racine. The superintendent mentioned DIFI status in passing to the board, and the WI State Journal reported on the possible sanctions without using the term DIFI.
- The Urban League - not MMSD administration or the board - pointed out the dismal graduation rates for African American students (48% for males)
- Less than 5% of African American students are college ready.
- AVID/TOPs does a terrific job with underrepresented students IF they can get in. AVID/TOPs serves 134 (2.6%) of MMSD's 4,977 African American secondary students.
- The number of African American students entering AVID/TOPs is lower this year after MMSD administration changed the criteria for participation away from the original focus on students of color, low income, and first generation college students.
- Of almost 300 teachers hired in 2011-12, less than 10 are African American. There are fewer African American teachers in MMSD today than there were five years ago.
- Over 50 African Americans applied for custodian positions since January 1, 2011. 1 was hired; close to 30 custodians were hired in that time.
- 4K - which is presented as a means to address the achievement gap - is predominantly attended by students who are not African American or low-income.
- In June, the board approved a Parent Engagement Coordinator to help the district improve its relations with African American families. That position remains unfilled. The district has engagement coordinators working with Hmong and Latino families.
Whether one agrees or disagrees with NCLB, DIFI status is a serious matter because of the ladder of increasing sanctions that come with poor performance. In an ideal world, the district would have articulated the improvement plan required by DPI over the summer for implementation on the first day of school. Such a plan would include clear action steps, goals, and timelines to improve African American achievement. Such a plan does not exist as of mid-December 2011, and in the most recent discussion it was asserted that the improvement plan is "just paper that doesn't mean much." I would argue that, to the African American community, such a plan would mean a great deal if it was sincerely formulated and implemented.
At the same time, we have been able to come up with task forces and reports - with goals and timelines - that are devoted to Talented and Gifted Programing, Direct Language Instruction, Fine Arts Programing, and Mathematics Education to name a few.
Under the circumstances, it is hard to see why the African American community would believe that the outcomes will improve if they are 'just patient' and 'work within the existing public school structures to make things better.' Perhaps more accurately, I cannot look people in the face and ask them to hope that we will do a better job if they just give up on the vision of a school structure that does what the MMSD has failed to do for the African American community since the advocacy began some 40 years ago.
Join us for an evening with one of the country's most notable figures in public education. Labor lawyer, former President of the United Teachers Federation and current President of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten discusses the challenging terrain of our public education system.334 amsterdam ave at 76th st, new york, ny 10023 | 646.505.4444
Burke, who made headlines recently for pledging $2.5 million to Madison Preparatory Academy, a controversial charter school proposal, plans to run for the seat being vacated by Lucy Mathiak.
Burke also served as president of the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County for nine years and along with the Burke Foundation has donated about $2.6 million to the AVID/TOPS program, which has shown promising results in improving achievement among low-income, minority students.
Burke emphasized closing the district's racial achievement gap as a motivation for her decision to run.
Several others have expressed interest in running for the seat, including Joan Eggert, a Madison schools parent and reading specialist in the McFarland School District, who issued an official announcement last week.
Others who said they are considering a run include parents Jill Jokela and Mark Stokosa. Tom Farley, who ran unsuccessfully in 2010 against James Howard, said Monday he is no longer interested in running and Burke's entry in the race makes him confident in that decision.
December 11, 2011Related: Who Runs the Madison Schools?
Mr. Ed Hughes
Board of Education
Madison Metropolitan School District 545 West Dayton Street
Madison, WI 53713
Dear Mr. Hughes:
This letter is intended to respond to your December 4, 2011 blog post regarding the Madison Preparatory Academy initiative. Specifically, this letter is intended to address what you referred as "a fairly half-hearted argument [advanced by the Urban League] that the state statute authorizing school districts to enter into contracts for non-instrumentality charter schools trumps or pre-empts any language in collective bargaining agreements that restricts school districts along these lines." Continuing on, you wrote the following:I say the argument is half-hearted because no authority is cited in support and itjust isn't much ofan argument. School districts aren't required to authorize non-instrumentality charter schools, and so there is no conflict with state statutesfor a school district to, in effect, agree that it would not do so. Without that kind of a direct conflict, there is no basis for arguing that the CBA language is somehow pre-empted.We respectfully disagree with your assessment. The intent of this letter is to provide you with the authority for this position and to more fully explain the nature of our concern regarding a contract provision that appears to be illegal in this situation and in direct conflict with public policy.
As you are aware, the collective bargaining agreement (the "CBA") between MMSD and MTI Iprovides "that instructional duties where the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction requires that such be performed by a certificated teacher, shall be performed only by 'teachers."' See Article I, Section B.3.a. In addition, "the term 'teacher' refers to anyone in the collective bargaining unit." See Article I, Section B.2. You have previously suggested that "all teachers in MMSD schools-- including non-instrumentality charter schools- must be members of the MTI bargaining unit." As we indicated in our December 3, 2011 correspondence to you, under a non-instrumentality charter, the school board may not be the employer of the charter school's staff. See§ 118.40(7)(a).
Under Wisconsin's charter school law, the MMSD School Board (the "Board") has the exclusive authority to determine whether a school is an instrumentality or not an instrumentality of the school district. See§ 118.40(7)(a). That decisio n is an important decision reserved to the Board alone. The effect of that decision drives whether teachers and staff must be, or cannot be, employees of the Board. The language of the CBA deprives the Board ofthe decision reserved to it under the statute and that language cannot be harmonized to give effect to both the statute and the CBA. Alternatively, the CBA language creates a situation whereby the Board may exercise its statutory authority to approve a non- instrumentality charter, but it must staff the school with school district employees, a result clearly prohibited under the statute. For reasons that will be explained below, in our view, the law trumps the CBA in either of these situations.
Under Wisconsin law, "[a]labor contract may not violate the law." Glendale Professional Policeman's Ass'n v. City ofGlendale, 83 Wis. 2d 90, 102 (Wis. 1978). City ofGlendale addressed the tension that can arise between bargained for provisions in a collective bargaining agreement and statutory language. In City of Glendale, the City argued that a provision dealing with job promotions was unenforceable because it could not be harmonized with statutory language. Specifically, the agreement in question set forth parameters for promoting employees and stated in part that openings "shall be filled by the applicant with the greatest department seniority..." City of Glendale, 83 Wis. 2d at 94. Wisconsin law provided the following:The chiefs shall appoint subordinates subject to approval by the board. Such appointments shall be made by promotion when this can be done with advantage, otherwise from an eligible list provided by examination and approval by the board and kept on file with the clerk.Wis. Stat.§ 62.13(4)(a).
The City contended that "the contract term governing promotions is void and unenforceable because it is contrary to sec. 62.13(4)(a), Stats." City ofGlendale, 83 Wis. 2d at 98. Ultimately, the court ruled against the City based on the following rationale:Although sec. 62.13(4)(a), Stats., requires all subordinates to be appointed by the chief with the approval of the board, it does not, at least expressly, prohibit the chief or the board from exercising the power of promotion of a qualified person according to a set of rules for selecting one among several qualified applicants.The factual scenario in City ofGlendale differs significantly from the present situation. In City of Glendale, the terms of the agreement did not remove the ability of the chief, with the approval of the board, to make promotions. They could still carry out their statutory duties. The agreement language simply set forth parameters that had to be followed when making promotions. Accordingly, the discretion of the chief was limited, but not eliminated. In the present scenario, the discretion of the Board to decide whether a charter school should be an instrumentality or a non-instrumentality has been effectively eliminated by the CBA language.
There is nothing in the CBA that explicitly prohibits the Board from voting for a non-instrumentality charter school. This discretion clearly lies with the Board. Pursuant to state law, instrumentality charter schools are staffed by District teachers. However, non-instrumentality charter schools cannot be staffed by District teachers. See Wis. Stat.§ 118.40. Based on your recent comments, you have taken the position that the Board cannot vote for a non-instrumentality charter school because this would conflict with the work preservation clause of the CBA. Specifically, you wrote that "given the CBA complications, I don't see how the school board can authorize a non-instrumentality Madison Prep to open its doors next fall, and I say that as one who has come to be sympathetic to the proposal." While we appreciate your sympathy, what we would like is your support. Additionally, this position creates at least two direct conflicts with the law.
First, under Wisconsin law, "the school board of the school district in which a charter school is located shall determine whether or not the charter school is an instrumentality of the school district." Wis. Stat. § 118.40(7)(a) (emphasis added.) The Board is required to make this determination. If the Board is precluded from making this decision on December 19"' based on an agreement previously reached with MTI, the Board will be unable to comply with the law. Effectively, the instrumentality/non- instrumentality decision will have been made by the Board and MTI pursuant to the terms and conditions of the CBA. However, MTI has no authority to make this determination, which creates a direct conflict with the law. Furthermore, the Board will be unable to comply with its statutory obligation due to the CBA. Based on your stated concerns regarding the alleged inability to vote for a non-instrumentality charter school, it appears highly unlikely that the Board ever intentionally ceded this level ofauthority to MTI.
Second, if the Board chose to exercise its statutorily granted authority on December 19th and voted for a non-instrumentality charter school, this would not be a violation of the CBA. Nothing in the CBA explicitly prohibits the Board from voting for a non-instrumentality charter school. At that point, to the extent that MTI chose to challenge that decision, and remember that MTI would have to choose to grieve or litigate this issue, MTI would have to try to attack the law, not the decision made by the Board. Pursuant to the law, "[i] f the school board determines that the charter school is not an instrumentality of the school district, the school board may not employ any personnel for the charter school." Wis. Stat.§ 118.40(7)(a) (emphasis added). While it has been suggested that the Board could choose to avoid the legal impasse by voting down the non-instrumentality proposal, doing so would not cure this conflict. This is particularly true if some Board members were to vote against a non-instrumentality option solely based on the CBA. In such a case, the particular Board Member's obligation to make this decision is essentially blocked. Making a decision consistent with an illegal contract provision for the purposes of minimizing the conflict does not make the provision any less illegal. "A labor contract term whereby parties agree to violate the law is void." WERC v. Teamsters Local No. 563, 75 Wis. 2d 602, 612 (Wis. 1977) (citation omitted).
In Wisconsin, "a labor contract term that violates public policy or a statute is void as a matter of law." Board of Education v. WERC, 52 Wis. 2d 625, 635 (Wis. 1971). Wisconsin law demonstrates that there is a public policy that promotes the creation of charter schools. Within that public policy, there is an additional public policy that promotes case-by-case decision making by a school board regarding whether a charter school will be an instrumentality or a non-instrumentality. The work preservation clause in the CBA cannot be harmonized with these underlying public policies and should not stop the creation of Madison Preparatory Academy.
The Madison Prep initiative has put between a rock and a hard place. Instrumentality status lost support because of the costs associated with employing members of MTI. Yet, we are being told that non-instrumentality status will be in conflict with the CBA and therefore cannot be approved. As discussed above, the work preservation clause is irreconcilable with Wisconsin law, and would likely be found void by acourt of law.
Accordingly, I call on you, and the rest of the Board to vote for non- instrumentality status on December 19th. In the words of Langston Hughes, "a dream deferred is a dream denied." Too many children in this district have been denied for far too long. On behalf of Madison children, families and the Boards of the Urban League and Madison Prep, I respectfully request your support.
President & CEO
cc: Dan Nerad, Superintendent
Dylan Pauly, Legal Counsel
MMSD Board ofEducation Members
ULGMand Madison Prep Board Members and Staff
Godfrey & Kahn, S.C.
As schools across California bemoan increasing class sizes, the Alliance Technology and Math Science High School has boosted class size -- on purpose -- to an astonishing 48. The students work at computers most of the school day.
Next door in an identical building containing a different school, digital imaging -- in the form of animation, short films and graphics -- is used for class projects in English, math and science.
At a third school on the same Glassell Park campus, long known as Taylor Yards, high-schoolers get hands-on experience with a working solar panel.
These schools and two others coexist at the Sotomayor Learning Academies, which opened this fall under a Los Angeles school district policy called Public School Choice. The 2009 initiative, the first of its kind in the nation, has allowed groups from inside and outside the Los Angeles Unified School District to compete for the right to run dozens of new or low-performing schools.
Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School, here.
As a fledgling voice of reform in higher education, Salman Khan is an oddity. He cannot name any higher education accrediting agencies off the top of his head. He advocates for competency-based credentialing, but has never heard of Western Governors University. He is capable of talking on the phone for a full hour without using the word "disruptive" once. Until recently, he was an analyst for a hedge fund.
Here is what Khan does know: algebra, statistics, trigonometry, calculus, computer science, biology, chemistry, astronomy, physics, economics, and finance -- well enough, at least, to demonstrate the concepts via brief video tutorials on Khan Academy, his free learning website. What began in 2006 as an attempt to tutor his young cousin from afar has evolved into a 2,700-video library with millions of monthly visitors.
Many have lauded Khan's natural skill as a teacher. Khan's charmingly unpolished home recordings form the public face of the organization and provide a peg for media narratives about online learning and the YouTube-ification of the textbook in an era where the rising prices and demand for higher education has collided with the Internet's culture of free.
The public is in a foul mood over increasing college costs and student debt burdens. Talk of a "higher education bubble" is common on the contrarian right, while the Occupy Wall Street crowd is calling for a strike in which in which ex-students refuse to pay off their loans.
This week, President Barack Obama held a summit with a dozen higher-education leaders "to discuss rising college costs and strategies to reduce these costs while improving quality." The administration plans to introduce some policy proposals in the run-up to the presidential campaign.
Any serious policy reform has to start by considering a heretical idea: Federal subsidies intended to make college more affordable may have encouraged rapidly rising tuitions.
It's not as crazy as it might sound.
What does the Hillsborough County, Fla., school district have that Milwaukee Public Schools doesn't? What about Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools in North Carolina?
Much better overall scores in reading and math, for one thing. They were at the top of the list of 21 urban school districts in results released last week as part of the National Assessment of Education Progress, or NAEP. Milwaukee was near the bottom.
But here's something else Hillsborough County - which is the Tampa school district - has: Among its 193,000 students, 57% are from low-income homes. For Charlotte-Mecklenburg, the percentage of low-income students among its 136,000 students is 52%.
For MPS, with 80,000-plus students, the low-income rate is 83%.
Each of the four urban districts that scored the best in fourth-grade reading had a low-income rate of 61% or less. Among the four with the worst results, MPS was the lowest with its 83% rate. Detroit, with the worst scores, was listed in the NAEP report at 87%, Cleveland at 100%, and Fresno, Calif., at 93%.
Two other things:
Amber Dias couldn't be sure what was wrong with her little boy.
Chase was a bright, loving 2 1/2-year-old. But he didn't talk much and rarely responded to his own name. He hated crowds and had a strange fascination with the underside of the family tractor.
Searching the Internet, Amber found stories about other children like Chase -- on websites devoted to autism.
"He wasn't the kid rocking in the corner, but it was just enough to scare me," recalled Dias, who lives with her husband and three children on a dairy farm in the Central Valley town of Kingsburg.
She took Chase to a psychologist in Los Angeles, who said the boy indeed had autism and urged the family to seek immediate treatment.
The budget signed by Gov. Scott Walker makes some of the biggest cuts in the nation to education even as it makes one of the largest spending increases in the country in health care for the poor, two new reports show.Related: Wisconsin's debt in the top 10 amongst US States.
At the same time, Wisconsin has avoided large tax increases and ranks more toward the middle of the pack when looking at cuts to schools over the past four years and what the overall education spending in the state is.
Together, the new reports highlight a trend in Wisconsin - the priorities of holding down taxes and paying for rapidly growing Medicaid health care programs are squeezing school funding.
"You're going to see everything else in the budget under stress as long as Medicaid is growing rapidly, at least more rapidly than tax revenues," said Todd Berry, president of the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance.
Walker and Republican lawmakers closed a $3 billion budget gap over two years by relying on cuts to schools and local governments rather than tax increases. Democrats decried the cuts as harmful to students and local services, but the governor said he had protected those services by allowing local governments to find savings from union employees' benefits.
A survey this month by the nonpartisan National Governors Association and the National Association of State Budget Officers showed that the budget as passed by Walker and GOP lawmakers made the fifth-largest cuts to state funding for education in the nation at $409 million, with Wisconsin topped only by the much larger states of New York, California, Pennsylvania and Florida.
Gov. Bobby Jindal continued his push for overhauling the state's public education system, asking a handful of lawmakers and some members of the state's chief school board for their input Friday. Jindal, who has targeted "education reform" as his chief agenda item for his second term, met with several veteran and rookie lawmakers and Board of Elementary and Secondary Education members behind closed doors at the Governor's Mansion for 90 minutes to get their thoughts on potential programs and legislation.
"We are open to listening to people's ideas," Jindal told reporters after the meeting. "But we will not tolerate those who defend the status quo and (want to) keep doing what we have been doing and expect different results.
And no matter which way the Dec. 19 vote goes, there's no way to know now whether the school will be entirely effective.Two School Board seats will be on the Spring, 2012 ballot. They are currently occupied by Lucy Mathiak, who is not running again and Arlene Silveira. I suspect the outcome of this vote will drive new candidates, and perhaps, even recalls.
"This is the most difficult decision I will ever make on the School Board," said Marj Passman, who plans to vote against the proposal. "It has the potential for polarizing our community, and that's the last thing I want to happen."
The vote comes more than a year after the charter was proposed and in the wake of a School District report outlining its opposition to Madison Prep. The school would violate the district's contract with its teachers and preclude sufficient oversight of the $17.5 million in district funds the school would receive over five years, the report said.
District opposition likely will lead the board to reject the proposal, said School Board president James Howard.
"I don't see how it can pass," said Howard. He and Lucy Mathiak are the only two board members who said they will vote to approve the school.
Urban League of Greater Madison president Kaleem Caire, the lead proponent of the charter, acknowledged he doesn't have the votes. But he's engaged in a full-court press to generate public support for the proposal.
"We have a moral obligation to do whatever it takes to support our children and special interest of adults should not come before that," Caire said last week.
In research organizations that have been "captured" by vested interests, the scholars who receive the most attention, praise, and reward are not those who conduct the most accurate or highest quality research, but those who produce results that best advance the interests of the group. Those who produce results that do not advance the interests of the group may be shunned and ostracized, even if their work is well-done and accurate.
The prevailing view among the vested interests in education does not oppose all standardized testing; it opposes testing with consequences based on the results that is also "externally administered"--i.e., testing that can be used to make judgments of educators but is out of educators' direct control. The external entity may be a higher level of government, such as the state in the case of state graduation exams, or a non-governmental entity, such as the College Board or ACT in the case of college entrance exams.
One can easily spot the moment vested interests "captured" the National Research Council's Board on Testing and Assessment (BOTA). BOTA was headed in the 1980s by a scholar with little background or expertise in testing (Wise, 1998). Perhaps not knowing who to trust at first, she put her full faith, and that of the NRC, behind the anti-high-stakes testing point of view that had come to dominate graduate schools of education. Proof of that conversion came when the NRC accepted a challenge from the U.S. Department of Labor to evaluate the predictive validity of the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB) for use in unemployment centers throughout the country.
What inspired you to start The Concord Review?
Diane Ravitch, an American historian of education, wrote a col- umn in The New York Times in 1985 about the ignorance of his- tory among 17-year-olds in the United States, based on a study of 7,000 students. As a history teacher myself at the time, I was interested to see that what concerned me was a national problem, and I began to think about these issues. It occurred to me that if I had one or two very good students writing his- tory papers for me and perhaps my colleagues had one or two, then in 20,000 United States high schools (and more overseas) there must be a large number of high school students doing exemplary history research papers. So in1987, I established The Concord Review to provide a journal for such good work in his- tory. I sent a four-page brochure calling for papers to every high school in the United States, 3,500 high schools in Canada, and 1,500 schools overseas. The papers started coming in, and in the fall of 1988, I was able to publish the first issue of The Concord Review. Since then, we have published 89 issues.
Editor's Note: Once again, I have to thank NAS for providing the opportunity for meeting contributor Will Fitzhugh. Will has an AB in English Literature and Ed.M. in Guidance from Harvard. After a number of years in industry, he taught high school for ten years in Concord, Massachusetts. In 1987 he started The Concord Review, the only journal in the world for the academic papers of secondary students, which has now published 978 history essays from 44 states and 38 other countries. These essays truly are examples of outstanding writing and scholarship. Most of us who teach at the college level wish all high school teachers would heed Will's advice.
What follows below is a speech given at the 2010 meeting of NACAC, prefaced by his introductory note.
by Will Fitzhugh
At the 2010 Conference of the National Association of College Admissions Counselors, the primary organization for admissions professionals, I spoke about the way the emphasis on little 500-word personal "college" essays erodes students' chances to learn to do actual academic term papers at least once before they get to college.
"The College Essay"
I propose a thought experiment for what it may be worth:
What if we change the name of our organization from the National Association of College Admissions Counselors to: The National Association of College Completion Counselors?
Note that the new name is more comprehensive, as Completion presupposes Admission, but, as is all too obvious these days, Admission cannot assume Completion.
You are all at least as aware as I am of the numbers about the need for academic remediation in Higher Education and the numbers of dropouts from college, but I will review a couple of them. Tony Wagner of Harvard reports that in general, including community colleges, half of college freshman do not return for a second year, and a huge percentage of our high school graduates take six years or more to complete a Bachelor's degree, and four years or more to complete an Associate's degree.
Students who need remediation in basic academic skills are more likely to drop out, and the more remedial courses they have to take, the more likely they are to drop out.
The California State College System reported at a conference last Fall that 47% of their Freshman students are in remedial reading courses.
Does anybody read any more?
We may assume that these students have had 12 years of reading in school already, but they still can't read well enough to do college work, at least by California standards.
Reading is not calculus or chemistry, it is just a basic academic skill in which we expect that the schools have offered practice for 12 years.
Now, a youngster can start to play Pop Warner football at age 6. By graduation from high school, he could have had 12 years of practice at the basic skills of football. Imagine athletes reporting for a college football team, only to be told that they need a year of remedial blocking and tackling practice before they can be allowed to play. It seems unlikely that they would not have learned basic blocking and tackling skills in their previous 12 years of playing football.
I am not just talking about improvement here. Of course, students in college can learn to read more difficult material in new academic subjects. And of course college athletes can get better at all the skills needed for success in their sports.
But we are talking about basic, entry-level academic skills. 47% of freshmen in the California State College System don't have them in reading, after 12 years of practice in school.
When I went into the Army in 1960, I had never fired a rifle before, but in a week or two on the range in Basic Training, I was able to meet the standard for "Sharpshooter." I missed "Expert" by one target.
I am convinced that if I had had 12 years of practice with my M-1 Garand, I really could have scored "Expert"--perhaps even by the higher standards of the U.S. Marine Corps.
I have to confess I am stunned that so many of our high school students, having been awarded one of our high school diplomas, and having been accepted at one of our colleges, are found [by ACT] to be unable to read well enough to do college work.
The Diploma to Nowhere report of the Strong American Schools project said that more than one million of our high school graduates are now in remedial courses each year when they get to college.
It also notes that these students, having satisfied our requirements for the high school diploma, and graduated--having applied to college and been accepted--are told when they get there, that they can't make the grade without perhaps an additional year of work on their academic fundamentals. Naturally this experience is surprising to them, given that they satisfied our requirements for graduation and admission to college, and embarrassing, humiliating and discouraging, as well.
As you may know, my particular interest since 1987 has been in student history research papers at the high school level. I have published 978 essays by secondary students from 44 states and 38 other countries over the last 25 years.
Some of the students who wrote the required Extended Essays for the IB Diploma and were published in The Concord Review, and some of our other authors as well, have told me that in their freshman dorms they are often mobbed by their peers who are facing a serious term paper for the first time and have no idea how to do one.
It is absurd to contemplate, but imagine a well-prepared college basketball player being mobbed for help by his peers who had never been taught to dribble, pass, or shoot in high school.
If even colleges like Harvard and Stanford require all their Freshmen to take a year of expository writing, that may not exactly be remedial writing, but I would argue that a student who has completed an Extended Essay for the International Baccalaureate Diploma, and a student who has published a 12,000-word paper on Irish Nationalism or a 15,000-word paper on the Soviet-Afghan War for The Concord Review, should perhaps be allowed to skip that year of remedial writing. The author of the Soviet-Afghan War paper, from Georgia, is now at Christ Church College, Oxford, where I believe he did not have to spend a year in an expository writing course, and the author of the Irish Nationalism paper is at Princeton, where she may very well have been asked to spend a year in such a course.
If so many of our students need to learn how to do academic writing (not to mention how to read), what are they spending time on in high school?
I believe that writing is the most dumbed-down activity we now have in our schools. The AP program includes no research paper, only responses to document-based questions, and most high school Social Studies departments leave academic writing tasks to the English Department.
Now, in general, English Departments favor personal and creative writing and the five-paragraph essay, but college admission requirements have given them an additional task on which they are working with students. Teaching writing takes time, not only in preparing and monitoring students, but more especially in reading what students have written and offering corrections and advice. Time for one kind of writing necessarily means less time for another kind.
Personal and creative writing and the five-paragraph essay have already taken a lot of the time of English teachers and their students, but as college admissions officers ask for the 500-word personal essay, time has to be given to teaching for that.
While high school English departments work with their students on the 500-word personal essay, they do not have the time to give to serious term papers, so they don't do them, and I believe that is why so many students arrive in our colleges in need of a one-year course on the expository writing they didn't get a chance to do in school.
Lots of the public high school students whose work I publish simply do their papers as independent studies, as there is no place for serious academic writing like that in the curriculum.
I would suggest that college admissions officers ask for an academic research paper from applicants in place of the short little personal essay; while it would be more work for them, it would make it more likely that students would arrive ready for college work.
Making sure that our high school students arrive in college able to manage college-level nonfiction reading and academic expository writing might really help us earn our new credential as professionals who work not just to help students get accepted at college, but to help them complete college as well.
Will Fitzhugh's website is www.tcr.org, and he can be reached at Fitzhugh@tcr.org
Every year, the education magazine Phi Delta Kappan hires the Gallup Organization to survey American opinion on the public schools. Though Gallup conducts the poll, education grandees selected by the editors of the Kappan write the questions. In 2007 the poll asked, "Will the current emphasis on standardized tests encourage teachers to 'teach to the tests,' that is, concentrate on teaching their students to pass the tests rather than teaching the subject, or don't you think it will have this effect?"
The key to the question, of course, is the "rather than"--the assumption by many critics that test preparation and good teaching are mutually exclusive. In their hands, "teach to the test" has become an epithet. The very existence of content standards linked to standardized tests, in this view, narrows the curriculum and restricts the creativity of teachers--which of course it does, in the sense that teachers in standards-based systems cannot organize their instructional time in any fashion they prefer.
A more subtle critique is that teaching to the test can be good or bad. If curricula are carefully developed by educators and the test is written with curricula in mind, then teaching to the test means teaching students the knowledge and skills we agree they ought to learn--exactly what our teachers are legally and ethically obligated to do.
In an earlier comment thread someone asked whether Asian-American college performance is commensurate with their SAT scores. If A-A SAT scores are artificially elevated by cramming then one might expect it to under-predict college GPA. (On the other hand, if Asians are more conscientious and hard working overall, one might* expect both SAT scores and college GPA to be elevated relative to other groups.) This data from the College Board shows that the validity of SAT as a predictor of college GPA is about the same for whites and Asians.
*Regarding cramming, I have yet to see any data which shows that large groups of people can significantly elevate their SAT scores through preparation. Test prep companies will claim this is possible, but detailed studies by ETS suggest otherwise. In our U Oregon data set (covering all students at the university over a 5 year period) it is quite rare to see a change of 1 population SD between max and average score for individual students who take the SAT multiple times.
(Click for larger version. FYGPA = Freshman Year GPA.)
There's a very disturbing tendency among academics -- though many people in policy fights do it -- to dodge substantive debate by declaring, basically, "the other side is full of garbage so just ignore them." You probably see it most glaringly about climate change -- no one credible disagrees with Al Gore! -- but I see it far too frequently regarding the possibility that government student aid, the bulk of which comes from Washington, is a significant factor behind college price inflation.
Today, we are treated to this lame dodge in a letter to the Washington Post from Terry Hartle, Senior Vice President at the American Council on Education, arguably the most powerful of Ivory Tower advocacy groups. He writes:
Seeing that the district is quietly working towards presenting a plan to build yet another elementary school (to the tune of $18-22M), we felt it was long overdue to take a look at our debt picture. That is what people do before planning big purchase, right????
Pick up any newspaper or magazine and it won't be long before you see what folks all over the country are doing during this 3 year (and counting) downturn in the economy. They're paying down their debt and not creating new debt. Sounds like a solid plan...right? Nope, at least not in Sun Prairie. The FTT Committee will be reviewing APL population estimates this coming Monday, and that will be the first shot fired in a battle to build an 8th elementary school. APL estimates are ALWAYS a prelude to "time to build".
It is simply time to be honest. If you are sincerely concerned about the educational problems in Milwaukee and want to see real solutions implemented, then it is time to take a look at the truth. The desire to be politically correct for some and the reluctance to accept reality for others is what has delayed real progress in Milwaukee.
So, here it is point blank:
Wisconsin - not just Milwaukee - has a problem educating African-American youths.
According to the recent test scores reported by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the achievement gap continues to widen. In other words, white students continue to outperform minority students, especially African-Americans. In fact, Wisconsin has the largest white-black achievement gap in the nation and continues to be the only state with a gap well above the national average.
Basically, white students have an 86% high school graduation rate, while African-American students graduate at a rate of 49%. So, quality education is not difficult to find in Wisconsin, but for some reason African-American youths are not getting it.
Flor Perez, a 1995 Santa Cruz High graduate, sits inside the library of her alma mater with her 15-year-old son Alex as the two plot his path to college.
As part of a preparedness course for ninth-graders and their families, the Perezes match high school course offerings with entry requirements for four-year universities. They want to make sure Alex knows the right classes to take now to get into college after earning his diploma.
Flor wished there had been a similar program when she was growing up. Now in her 30s and expecting her third child, she's majoring in health science and nursing at San Jose State University while raising Alex and his younger brother.
"We had to see a counselor and make our own appointment," she said of her time in high school. "This workshop actually includes the parents. It allows us to make sure our kids are on track."
Kaleem Caire, via email:
December 10, 2011Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school, here.
Dear Friends & Colleagues.
For the last 16 months, we have been on an arduous journey to develop a public school that would effectively address the educational needs of children who have under-performed or failed to succeed in Madison's public schools for at least the last 40 years. If you have followed the news stories, it's not hard to see how many mountains have been erected in our way during the process.
Some days, it has felt like we're desperately looking at our children standing dangerously close to the edge of a cliff, some already fallen over while others dangling by their thumbs waiting to be rescued; but before we can get close enough to save them, we have to walk across one million razor blades and through thousands of rose bushes with our bare feet. As we make our way to them and get closer, the razor blades get sharper and the rose bushes grow more dense.
Fortunately, our Board members and team at the Urban League and Madison Preparatory Academy, and the scores of supporters who've been plowing through the fields with us for the last year believe that our children's education, their emotional, social and personal development, and their futures are far more important than any pain we might endure.
Our proposal for Madison Prep has certainly touched a nerve in Madison. But why? When we launched our efforts on the steps of West High School on August 29, 2010, we thought Madison and its school officials would heartily embrace Madison Prep.We thought they would see the school as:
(1) a promising solution to the racial achievement gap that has persisted in our city for at least 40 years;
(2) a learning laboratory for teachers and administrators who admittedly need new strategies for addressing the growing rate of underachievement, poverty and parental disengagement in our schools, and
(3) a clear sign to communities of color and the broader Greater Madison community that it was prepared to do whatever it takes to help move children forward - children for whom failure has become too commonplace and tolerated in our capital city.
Initially, the majority of Board of Education members told us they liked the idea and at the time, had no problems with us establishing Madison Prep as a non-instrumentality - and therefore, non-union, public school. At the same time, all of them asked us for help and advice on how to eliminate the achievement gap, more effectively engage parents and stimulate parent involvement, and better serve children and families of color.
Then, over the next several months as the political climate and collective bargaining in the state changed and opponents to charter schools and Madison Prep ramped up their misinformation and personal attack campaign, the focus on Madison Prep got mired in these issues.
The concern of whether or not a single-gender school would be legal under state and federal law was raised. We answered that both with a legal briefing and by modifying our proposal to establish a common girls school now rather than two years from now.
The concern of budget was raised and how much the school would cost the school district. We answered that through a $2.5 million private gift to lower the per pupil request to the district and by modifying our budget proposal to ensure Madison Prep would be as close to cost-neutral as possible. The District Administration first said they would support the school if it didn't cost the District more than $5 million above what it initially said it could spend; Madison Prep will only cost them $2.7 million.
Board of Education members also asked in March 2011 if we would consider establishing Madison Prep as an instrumentality of MMSD, where all of the staff would be employed by the district and be members of the teacher's union. We decided to work towards doing this, so long as Madison Prep could retain autonomy of governance, management and budget. Significant progress was made until the last day of negotiations when MMSD's administration informed us that they would present a counter-budget to ours in their analysis of our proposal that factored in personnel costs for an existing school versus establishing a modest budget more common to new charter schools.
We expressed our disagreement with the administration and requested that they stick with our budget for teacher salaries, which was set using MMSD's teacher salary scale for a teacher with 7 years experience and a masters degree and bench-marked against several successful charter schools. Nevertheless, MMSD argued that they were going to use the average years of experience of teachers in the district, which is 14 years with a master's degree. This drove up the costs significantly, taking teacher salaries from $47,000 to $80,000 per year and benefits from $13,500 to $25,000 per year per teacher. The administration's budget plan therefore made starting Madison Prep as an instrumentality impossible.
To resolve the issue, the Urban League and Board of Madison Prep met in November to consider the options. In doing so, we consulted with every member of MMSD's Board of Education. We also talked with parents, stakeholders and other community members as well. It was then decided that we would pursue Madison Prep as a non-instrumentality of the school district because we simply believe that our children cannot and should not have to wait.
Now, Board of Education members are saying that Madison Prep should be implemented in "a more familiar, Madison Way", as a "private school", and that we should not have autonomy even though state laws and MMSD's own charter school policy expressly allow for non-instrumentality schools to exist. There are presently more than 20 such schools in Wisconsin.
As the mountains keep growing, the goal posts keep moving, and the razor blades and rose bushes are replenished with each step we take, we are forced to ask the question: Why has this effort, which has been more inclusive, transparent and well-planned, been made so complicated? Why have the barriers been erected when our proposal is specifically focused on what Madison needs, a school designed to eliminate the achievement gap, increase parent engagement and prepare young people for college who might not otherwise get there? Why does liberal Madison, which prides itself on racial tolerance and opposition to bigotry, have such a difficult time empowering and including people of color, particularly African Americans?
As the member of a Black family that has been in Madison since 1908, I wonder aloud why there are fewer black-owned businesses in Madison today than there were 25 years ago? There are only two known black-owned businesses with 10 or more employees in Dane County. Two!
Why can I walk into 90 percent of businesses in Madison in 2011 and struggle to find Black professionals, managers and executives or look at the boards of local companies and not see anyone who looks like me?
How should we respond when Board of Education members tell us they can't vote for Madison Prep while knowing that they have no other solutions in place to address the issues our children face? How can they say they have the answers and develop plans for our children without consulting and including us in the process? How can they have 51 black applicants for teaching positions and hire only one, and then claim that they can't find any black people to apply for jobs? How can they say, "We need more conversations" about the education of our children when we've been talking for four decades?
I have to ask the question, as uncomfortable as it may be for some to hear, "Would we have to work this hard and endure so much resistance if just 48% of white children in Madison's public schools were graduating, only 1% of white high school seniors were academically ready for college, and nearly 50% of white males between the ages of 25-29 were incarcerated, on probation or under some form of court supervision?
Is this 2011 or 1960? Should the black community, which has been in Madison for more than 100 years, not expect more?
How will the Board of Education's vote on December 19th help our children move forward? How will their decision impact systemic reform and seed strategies that show promise in improving on the following?
Half of Black and Latino children are not completing high school. Just 59% of Black and 61% of Latino students graduated on-time in 2008-09. One year later, in 2009-10, the graduation rate declined to 48% of Black and 56% of Latino students compared to 89% of white students. We are going backwards, not forwards. (Source: MMSD 2010, 2011)
Black and Latino children are not ready for college. According to makers of the ACT college entrance exam, just 20% of Madison's 378 Black seniors and 37% of 191 Latino seniors in MMSD in 2009-10 completed the ACT. Only 7% of Black and 18% of Latino seniors completing test showed they had the knowledge and skills necessary to be "ready for college". Among all MMSD seniors (those completing and not completing the test), just 1% of Black and 7% of Latino seniors were college ready
Too few Black and Latino graduates are planning to go to college. Of the 159 Latino and 288 Black students that actually graduated and received their diplomas in 2009-10, just 28% of Black and 21% of Latino students planned to attend a four-year college compared to 53% of White students. While another 25% of Black and 33% of graduates planned to attend a two-year college or vocation program (compared to 17% of White students), almost half of all of all Black and Latino graduates had no plans for continuing their education beyond high school compared to 27% of White students. (Source: DPI 2011)
Half of Black males in their formative adult years are a part of the criminal justice system. Dane County has the highest incarceration rate among young Black men in the United States: 47% between the ages of 25-29 are incarcerated, on probation or under some form of court supervision. The incarceration phenomena starts early. In 2009-10, Black youth comprised 62% of all young people held in Wisconsin's correctional system. Of the 437 total inmates held, 89% were between the ages of 15-17. In Dane County, in which Madison is situated, 49% of 549 young people held in detention by the County in 2010 were Black males, 26% were white males, 12% were black females, 6% were white females and 6% were Latino males and the average age of young people detained was 15. Additionally, Black youth comprised 54% of all 888 young people referred to the Juvenile Court System. White students comprised 31% of all referrals and Latino comprised 6%.
More importantly, will the Board of Education demonstrate the type of courage it took our elders and ancestors to challenge and change laws and contracts that enabled Jim Crow, prohibited civil rights, fair employment and Women's right to vote, and made it hard for some groups to escape the permanence of America's underclass? We know this is not an easy vote, and we appreciate their struggle, but there is a difference between what is right and what is politically convenient.
Will the Board have the courage to look in the faces of Black and Latino families in the audience, who have been waiting for solutions for so long, and tell them with their vote that they must wait that much longer?
We hope our Board of Education members recognize and utilize the tremendous power they have to give our children a hand-up. We hope they hear the collective force and harmony of our pleas, engage with our pain and optimism, and do whatever it takes to ensure that the proposal we have put before them, which comes with exceptional input and widespread support, is approved on December 19, 2011.
Madison Prep is a solution we can learn from and will benefit the hundreds of young men and women who will eventually attend.
If not Madison Prep, then what? If not now, then when?
SCHOOL BOARD VOTE ON MADISON PREP
Monday, December 19, 2011 at 5:00pm
Madison Metropolitan School District
Doyle Administration Building Auditorium
545 West Dayton Street
Madison, WI 53703
Contact: Laura DeRoche Perez, Lderoche@ulgm.org
CLICK HERE TO RSVP: TELL US YOU'LL BE THERE
Write the School Board and Tell Them to "Say 'Yes', to Madison Prep!"
Madison Prep 2012!
President & CEO
Urban League of Greater Madison
OUR RESPONSE TO MMSD'S NEW CONCERNS
Autonomy: MMSD now says they are concerned that Madison Prep will not be accountable to the public for the education it provides students and the resources it receives. Yet, they don't specify what they mean by "accountability." We would like to know how accountability works in MMSD and how this is producing high achievement among the children it serves. Further, we would like to know why Madison Prep is being treated differently than the 30 early childhood centers that are participating in the district's 4 year old kindergarten program. They all operate similar to non-instrumentality schools, have their own governing boards, operate via a renewable contract, can hire their own teachers "at their discretion" and make their own policy decisions, and have little to no oversight by the MMSD Board of Education. All 30 do not employ union teachers. Accountability in the case of 4K sites is governed by "the contract." MMSD Board members should be aware that, as with their approval of Badger Rock Middle School, the contract is supposed to be developed "after" the concept is approved on December 19. In essence, this conversation is occurring to soon, if we keep with current district practices.
Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA): MMSD and Madison Teachers, Incorporated have rejected our attorney's reading of ACT 65, which could provide a path to approval of Madison Prep without violating the CBA. Also, MTI and MMSD could approve Madison Prep per state law and decide not to pursue litigation, if they so desired. There are still avenues to pursue here and we hope MMSD's Board of Education will consider all of them before making their final decision.
The economic divide is not confined to Wall Street and Main Street.
Within the world of private higher education, there are a handful of college presidents who earn considerably more than professors on their campuses, or gobble up a notable share of their institutions' budgetary pie, a Chronicle analysis has found. There are also significant pay gaps among presidents, 36 of whom earned more than $1-million in 2009.
A typical private-college leader made 3.7 times as much as the average full professor on his or her campus in 2009, but six presidents reviewed by The Chronicle made more than 10 times as much as their faculty colleagues, according to national faculty-salary data and the most-recent available federal-tax filings. While most colleges spent less than $5 on presidential pay for every $1,000 of their budgets, 14 of the institutions The Chronicle reviewed spent two times that.
If 2010 was the year of the bombshell in research in the three "major areas" of market-based education reform - charter schools, performance pay, and value-added in evaluations - then 2011 was the year of the slow, sustained march.
Last year, the landmark Race to the Top program was accompanied by a set of extremely consequential research reports, ranging from the policy-related importance of the first experimental study of teacher-level performance pay (the POINT program in Nashville) and the preliminary report of the $45 million Measures of Effective Teaching project, to the political controversy of the Los Angeles Times' release of teachers' scores from their commissioned analysis of Los Angeles testing data.
In 2011, on the other hand, as new schools opened and states and districts went about the hard work of designing and implementing new evaluations compensation systems, the research almost seemed to adapt to the situation. There were few (if any) "milestones," but rather a steady flow of papers and reports focused on the finer-grained details of actual policy.*
A nice analytic giblet from a Times profile of new Nobel economists Thomas Sargent and Christopher Sims:Because of his father's College Board connections, Mr. Sims got hold of an old SAT exam, which he and Mr. Willoughby used to conduct a statistical analysis. They found that on multiple-choice questions in English and social studies, the "longer answers tended to be correct." In math, they determined that the number that was "closest to all of the other numerical choices" was probably the right one.
Newt Gingrich has a penchant for saying provocative and often downright crazy things. When the former House Speaker gave a lecture at Harvard last month, calling child labor laws "truly stupid" and suggesting that low-income kids should be required to do some manual labor in their schools, it was a classic Gingrich proposal: over-the-top, totally tone-deaf, and way too broad in scope. But it also was not entirely wrong. Although his specifics are often bewildering, it's hard to deny that Gingrich has a knack for spotting trends in education.
In 1994, when Gingrich was the leader of House Republicans, he suggested a radical welfare reform: to break the cycle of poverty, take poor kids away from their unwed teen mothers and put them in state-run facilities. His orphanage idea was designed to free up single parents for job training while simultaneously instilling better work habits in their children. Not surprisingly, the proposal quickly died on Capitol Hill. But in the 17 years since then, hundreds of schools have sprung up across the country that are designed to get students to spend more time on school-related activities and less time exposed to adverse influences in their neighborhoods and, yes, sometimes in their homes. These schools also have clear nonacademic curricula that focus on behavior, self-management and life skills. The goal, as described by journalist David Whitman, the current speechwriter for Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, in Sweating the Small Stuff: Inner-City Schools and the New Paternalism, is to use school as an anti-poverty tool by deliberately fostering a strong work ethic in students.
Madison Metropolitan School District was provided an award from the Microsoft Cy Pres settlement in the Fall of 2009. Since that time the district has utilized many of these funds to prorate projects across the district in order to free up budgeted funds and to provide for more flexibility. The plan and process for these funds liquidates the General Purpose portion of the Microsoft Cy Pres funds, provides an equitable allocation per pupil to each school, and is aimed at increasing the amount of technology within our schools.I found the device distribution to be quite interesting. The iPad revolution is well underway. Technology's role in schools continues to be a worthwhile discussion topic.
The total allocation remaining from Cy Pres revenues totals $2,755,463.11, which was the target for the technology acquisition plan. Two things happened prior to allocating funds to schools: first was to hold back $442,000 for the future purchase of iPads for our schools (at $479 per iPad this equates to a 923 iPads), and second was to hold back $200,000 necessary for increased server capacity to deal with the increase in different types of technology.
The final step was to allocate the remaining funding ($2,113,463.11) out to the schools on a per pupil basis. This was calculated at $85.09 per pupil across all schools within the district.
John Matthews, Executive Director of Madison Teachers, Inc., via email:
The Urban League proposes that Madison Prep be operated as a non-instrumentality of the Madison Metropolitan School District. The Urban League's proposal is unacceptable to Madison Teachers, because it would effectively eliminate supervision and accountability of the school to the Madison School Board regarding the expenditure of millions of dollars in taxpayer money, and because it would also violate long-standing terms and conditions of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the Madison Metropolitan School District and MTI.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school, here.
The Urban League proposes to use District funds to hire non-District teaching staff at lower salaries and benefits than called for in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. It was recently stated in a meeting between representatives of Madison Prep, the School District and MTI that the Urban League plans to hire young African-American males and asks that MTI and the District enable them to pay the teachers they hire less than their counterparts, who are employed by the District. MTI cannot agree to enable that. We believe that such is discriminatory, based both on race and gender. The MTI/MMSD Contract calls for teachers to be compensated based upon their educational achievement and their years of service. MTI and MMSD agreed in the early 1970's that the District would not enable such undermining of employment standards. The costing of the Contract salary placement was explained by both Superintendent Nerad and John Matthews. Those explanations were ignored by the Urban League in their budgeting, causing a shortfall in the proposed operational budget, according to Superintendent Nerad.
It is also distasteful to MTI that the Urban League proposes to NOT ADDITIONALLY pay their proposed new hires for working a longer day and a longer school year. Most employees in the United States receive overtime pay when working longer hours. The Urban League proposes NO additional compensation for employees working longer hours, or for the 10 additional school days in their plan.
Finally, the Urban League is incorrect in asserting that MTI and the District could modify the MMSD/MTI Contract without triggering Act 10, Governor Walker's draconian attack on teachers and other public employees. The Contract would be destroyed if MTI and the District agreed to amend it. Such is caused by Walker's Law, Act 10. MTI is not willing to inflict the devastating effects of Act 10 on its members. The Urban League states that Walker's Act 65 would enable the Contract to be amended without the horrible impact cause by Act 10. That claim is unfounded and in error.
The Madison Prep proposal could easily be implemented if it followed the Charter Plan of Wright School, Nuestro Mundo, and Badger Rock School, all of which operate as instrumentalities of the District, under its supervision and the MMSD/MTI Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Madison Preparatory Academy could easily open if it followed the same model as the district's other charter schools, Madison Teachers Inc. Executive Director John Matthews said in response to yesterday's Urban League press conference.Related: Some Madison Teachers & Some Community Members (*) on the Proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School.
But the current proposal is "unacceptable" to Madison teachers because it would "effectively eliminate School Board oversight of the expenditure of millions of dollars in taxpayer money" and violate the district's contract with its union, Matthews said.
Matthews initially declined to comment on Madison Prep when I contacted him yesterday, but later responded in an e-mail.
In his response, Matthews criticized Madison Prep's plan to pay its teachers lower salaries and benefits than other district teachers, and not offer overtime for working longer days.
He also said the Urban League is incorrect in asserting that the current union contract can be modified without nullifying it under the state's new collective bargaining law.
Related: student learning has become focused instead on adult employment - Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman.
In the world of finance, there is always talk of bubbles - mortgage bubbles, tech stock bubbles, junk bond bubbles. But bubbles don't develop only in financial markets. In recent years, there's been another one quietly inflating, not capturing the attention of most observers.
It's an education bubble - just not the one of student debt that has graced the pages of the New York Times and so many other publications in recent months.
The problem is not that we are overeducating ourselves as many would have you believe. Rather, it's that we are spending a fortune to undereducate ourselves.
The United States has always been a very educated country. But it is becoming less and less so, especially in the areas that matter to our individual and collective economic futures. Our undereducation begins with a stubbornly high dropout rate among secondary education students. About a quarter of those who begin high school don't finish.
I have never let my schoolin