Category Archives: Uncategorized

Is Your Language Making You Broke and Fat? How Language Can Shape Thinking and Behavior (and How It Can’t)

Keith Chen:

Keith Chen, an economist from Yale, makes a startling claim in an unpublished working paper: people’s fiscal responsibility and healthy lifestyle choices depend in part on the grammar of their language.
Here’s the idea: Languages differ in the devices they offer to speakers who want to talk about the future. For some, like Spanish and Greek, you have to tack on a verb ending that explicitly marks future time–so, in Spanish, you would say escribo for the present tense (I write or I’m writing) and escribiré for the future tense (I will write). But other languages like Mandarin don’t require their verbs to be escorted by grammatical markers that convey future time–time is usually obvious from something else in the context. In Mandarin, you would say the equivalent of I write tomorrow, using the same verb form for both present and future.
Chen’s finding is that if you divide up a large number of the world’s languages into those that require a grammatical marker for future time and those that don’t, you see an interesting correlation: speakers of languages that force grammatical marking of the future have amassed a smaller retirement nest egg, smoke more, exercise less, and are more likely to be obese. Why would this be? The claim is that a sharp grammatical division between the present and future encourages people to conceive of the future as somehow dramatically different from the present, making it easier to put off behaviors that benefit your future self rather than your present self.

Census data fuels Hong Kong schools debate

South China Morning Post:  

The question of whether Hong Kong provides sufficient school places for foreigners who live and work here has been a subject of debate between the business sector and the government for quite some time. Various chambers of commerce have repeatedly warned that long queues to get into international schools have discouraged overseas talent from coming here, while education officials have maintained that there are more than enough places to meet the need.
Recently, both sides have stepped up their arguments, so much so that there is a danger of the debate turning into a confusing numerical game. Amid growing pressure to ease the shortage of school places, the government for the first time last year asked the Census and Statistics Department to look into the matter. Surprisingly, it found that more than 70 per cent of applicants said they had waited less than six months to get an international school place, undermining claims by critics that expatriate children are often on waiting lists for years. The department also found that only one in four pupils attending international schools planned to apply for secondary school places here.

The next generation of online education could be great for students–and catastrophic for universities

Kevin Carey:

Like millions of other Americans, Barbara Solvig lost her job this year. A fifty-year-old mother of three, Solvig had taken college courses at Northeastern Illinois University years ago, but never earned a degree. Ever since, she had been forced to settle for less money than coworkers with similar jobs who had bachelor’s degrees. So when she was laid off from a human resources position at a Chicago-area hospital in January, she knew the time had come to finally get her own credential. Doing that wasn’t going to be easy, because four-year degrees typically require two luxuries Solvig didn’t have: years of time out of the workforce, and a great deal of money.
Luckily for Solvig, there were new options available. She went online looking for something that fit her wallet and her time horizon, and an ad caught her eye: a company called StraighterLine was offering online courses in subjects like accounting, statistics, and math. This was hardly unusual–hundreds of institutions are online hawking degrees. But one thing about StraighterLine stood out: it offered as many courses as she wanted for a flat rate of $99 a month. “It sounds like a scam,” Solvig thought–she’d run into a lot of shady companies and hard-sell tactics on the Internet. But for $99, why not take a risk?

More Stellar Writing on Public Education

Melissa Westbrook:

or the second time in a week, I have been dazzled by some great writing on education. The Times has an op-ed by SPS high school teacher, Dan Magill, in response to the op-ed by Brad Smith (whose piece was about needed ed reform).
He very plainly sets out the challenge and the goal:

I would like to reframe the reality. There aren’t two sides. There are four corners. And in the middle hangs the goal: a sober-minded, analytical, skilled population that seizes opportunities by the gray matter.
Waiting in corner one, the students — a word I’ll define shortly. Warming up in corner two, the good teachers. The bad teachers don’t get a corner, partly because there aren’t very many of them. Corner three features the employers — people who just want dependable, qualified employees. And in corner four, we have the reform crowd — ones who influence educational policy regardless of their qualifications for doing so. These are the “meddlers.”

Achievement Gap Still a Problem in Madison

Taylor Nye:

Madison, Wisconsin is a city divided. Downtown areas of predominately higher socioeconomic status are associated, in this case, with Caucasian residents. Other areas, such as South Park Street, are physically removed from downtown and are home to residents of lower socioeconomic status. These residents, to some degree, are of other ethnic groups, including African Americans and Hispanics.
In Madison, this seems an anomaly. We are a small city, the state’s capitol, and the seat of many social service agencies that serve Wisconsin. However, the disparity in socioeconomic status is still present and manifests itself in a very important way: the high school achievement gap. Unfortunately, this gap has yet to be addressed in a meaningful way, and it’s not looking good for the near future. As reported by the Capital Times, the four-year high school graduation rate of African Americans in Madison is 48% that of their white counterparts. African Americans also score much lower on standardized tests.
Many felt that the Madison School District was not doing enough to combat this glaring inequality. Therefore, Kaleem Caire, the head of the Greater Urban League of Greater Madison, drew up plans for a charter school for ethnic minorities. Fundamental tenets of the proposed school, Madison Preparatory Academy, included longer hours, uniforms, same sex classrooms, and teachers and advisors from ethnic backgrounds that would act as both instructors and mentors to students.

Video Stream Today 9:00a.m. CST: U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan Joins Mayors Bloomberg, Villaraigosa and Emanuel for “Education Now: Cities at the Forefront of Reform” via a kind reader’s email:

Event Date 1: March 02, 2012 10:00 am – 11:00 am
UPDATE: This event will be webcasted live at 10 a.m. ET. To watch, go to Viewers are also invited to join the conversation on Twitter at #EdCities.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will join New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel together with their Superintendents, Dennis Walcott, John Deasy and Jean-Claude Brizard, to host a forum titled, “Education Now: Cities at the Forefront of Reform.” The forum will be held Friday, March 2, from 10 to 11 a.m. at American University.

Earning His Wings

Simon Parry:

In the playground of a gated private housing estate in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, a businessman in a smart suit and winter coat stands beside a rope bridge as his four-year-old son steps gingerly across it. As the boy reaches the middle, his father suddenly shakes it violently from side to side.
Caught by surprise, the boy appears unsure whether to laugh or burst into tears. He clings grimly to the side of the rope bridge as the businessman throws back his head and laughs, shouting to his son: “Go on, go on.” Other parents look on with a mixture of alarm and bemusement.
This, as you have probably gathered, is no ordinary father. He Liesheng is the self-styled “eagle dad”, whose extreme tough-love approach to child-rearing made headlines worldwide when, on a winter break in New York, he forced his son, He Tide, to run nearly naked and do press-ups in the snow in temperatures of minus 13 degrees Celsius. In a bizarre 90-second video posted online, the young boy – known by his nickname Duo Duo, which means “more, more” – shivers pathetically and begs his parents in vain for a hug while standing in the snow wearing only his yellow underpants and a pair of trainers.

Turing’s school reports

Alex Bellos:

My post yesterday about Alan Turing’s library list was my most read ever!
There’s obviously an appetite for Turing stuff – and so here is some more.
Rachel Hassall, the archivist at Sherborne, where Turing was at school, has transcribed his entire school reports, printed below.
It’s interesting to see how he changes from an untidy and careless mathematician to a distinguished scholar.
At the end of his first term headmaster O’ Hanlon writes: “He has his own furrow to plough & may not meet with general sympathy…”
At the end of his second term the maths teacher writes that he “should do well if he can quicken up a little.” Er, yes…

Achievement gap needs public’s greater scrutiny

Eric Hill:

You’ve undoubtedly read about the Madison Metropolitan School District’s recent initiative to close the racial and socioeconomic achievement gap that’s been plaguing the city for decades. This sudden shift in collective focus is likely the result of the Urban League of Madison’s recent Madison Prep charter school proposal. If not, it’s important to note that the proposal would open two schools to serve a portion of youth from some of city’s most under-served communities. They would borrow from formulas being used by highly effective charter schools across the country to get at-risk youth achieving at levels consistent with their more fortunate counterparts. But despite it being sound, well-funded and supported by evidence, the plan was ultimately voted down by the Madison school board in favor of the unchanging system that guarantees nothing but persistent failure.
The only silver lining to emerge from the school district’s disappointing decision is that the community has a renewed sense of urgency around the issues of education inequality in Madison.

Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.

Stop Stealing Dreams

Seth Godin:

The economy has changed, probably forever.
School hasn’t.
School was invented to create a constant stream of compliant factory workers to the growing businesses of the 1900s. It continues to do an excellent job at achieving this goal, but it’s not a goal we need to achieve any longer.
In this 30,000 word manifesto, I imagine a different set of goals and start (I hope) a discussion about how we can reach them. One thing is certain: if we keep doing what we’ve been doing, we’re going to keep getting what we’ve been getting.
Our kids are too important to sacrifice to the status quo.

No Book Will Fix What’s Wrong With American Parenting

Ruth Franklin:

The other day, a friend and I were walking down a crowded sidewalk when we noticed a little boy of about three. We noticed him not because he was adorable (though he was), but because he was hitting his father with a giant stick. As they passed us–the boy hitting, the father ignoring–the boy’s flailing stick hit my companion. Only the boy’s mother, running after them, seemed to notice. “Sorry,” she flung out breathlessly, smiling.
We were, of course, in Brooklyn, the epicenter of permissive parenting. A look at the landscape is enough to demonstrate that our children are running our lives–the “progressive preschools” that brighten the storefronts every few blocks, the new paint-your-own-pottery shop and “origami studio,” the never-ending parade of burger joints. In the latest viral video, “Sh*t Park Slope Parents Say,” a pair of insufferable hipster parents and their friends trade barbs of condescension. The only time these people are speechless is when they’re trying to make plans for a date night out.

What Research Says About School Choice

National Center for Policy Analysis:

Last year there was an unprecedented wave of new school choice programs launched across the country. Following 20 years of heated debate, new programs reflect a growing sophistication regarding the design and implementation of school choice policies. In a report for Education Week, scholars and analysts who support school choice examine the track record so far of these programs. They find it is promising and provides support for continuing expansion of school choice policies.

  • Among voucher programs, random-assignment studies generally find modest improvements in reading or math scores, or both.
  • Achievement gains are typically small in each year, but cumulative over time.
  • Graduation rates have been studied less often, but the available evidence indicates a substantial positive impact.
  • Some high-quality studies show that charters have positive effects on academic outcomes; in other contexts, the findings are more mixed.
  • In general, charters seem most likely to have positive effects on student achievement at the elementary level, in math, if the school is part of a well-established charter network, if the student has been enrolled for a while, if the student is disadvantaged, and if the school is in an urban area.

An Outsider Calls for a Teaching Revolution

Jeffrey Young:

In just a few short years, Salman Khan has built a free online educational institution from scratch that has nudged major universities to offer free self-guided courses and inspired many professors to change their teaching methods.
His creation is called Khan Academy, and its core is a library of thousands of 10-minute educational videos, most of them created by Mr. Khan himself. The format is simple but feels intimate: Mr. Khan’s voice narrates as viewers watch him sketch out his thoughts on a digital whiteboard. He made the first videos for faraway cousins who asked for tutoring help. Encouraging feedback by others who watched the videos on YouTube led him to start the academy as a nonprofit.

Student Loan Debt Hits Home for Bernanke

Jon Hilsenrath:

The most interesting anecdote to come out of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s semiannual testimony to Congress: His son, who is in medical school in New York, is likely to rack up $400,000 of student loan debt in the process of getting his degree.
The rapid growth of U.S. student loan debt, Mr. Bernanke said, required “careful oversight” from regulators.
The student loan tidbit wasn’t the only piece of “regular guy” information Mr. Bernanke divulged in today’s hearing. He also said he does his own grocery shopping.

Bills expanding school choice program to special education students raises questions in Tuesday hearing

Christie Taylor:

Bills currently winding through the state Legislature would allow special education students to join Racine and Milwaukee students in receiving vouchers worth up to $13,593 to attend private schools.
Republicans on the Assembly’s education committee already passed one version, AB 110, on a 7-4 party line vote, and the bill could hit the floor as soon as next week.
Meanwhile, the most recent version of the bill, SB 486, was the subject of a public hearing Tuesday where advocacy groups, special education teachers, and the Department of Public Instruction itself raised concerns that the bill would starve already-lean school budgets, and provide no guarantees to special education students in return. The bill does not cap how many students may receive vouchers through the program in an individual district, but the Assembly version limits the number to five percent of special education students in the state.

Citizen Dave: Does being childless disqualify you from serving on the Madison school board?

Dave Cieslewicz:

John Matthews, the very long-time president of the Madison teachers union said something that shouldn’t go unnoticed in today’s Cap Times story about the Madison school board races.
Referring to Mary Burke, a candidate for an open seat on the board, Matthews is quoted as saying, “you want somebody who understands what it’s like to be a parent and understands the needs of parents to be involved.” Burke has no children.
There’s little room to interpret that statement as anything but a claim that childless adults need not apply for positions on the school board as far as John Matthews is concerned. John did not go on to suggest that his members who teach children but don’t have any themselves are unqualified to teach, but that would seem to be a logical conclusion.
John can’t be serious. Single-person households now make up one out of four American households and the percentage is almost half in large cities. While all of those single person homes are not made up of childless individuals, there’s a good chance that the trend indicates that there are more of us who have made that choice to not have kids.

Seat 1 Candidates:
Nichele Nichols
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
Seat 2 Candidates:
Mary Burke
Michael Flores
1.25.2012 Madison School Board Candidate DCCPA Event Photos & Audio
Listen to the event via this 77MB mp3 audio file.
Arlene Silveira & Michael Flores Madison Teachers, Inc. Candidate Q & A

(Madison) District in distress: School Board races buffeted by achievement gap tensions

Jack Craver:

Since 2007, there have been nine elections for seats on the Madison School Board. Only two have been contested. Thus, in seven instances, a candidate was elected or re-elected without having to persuade the community on the merits of his or her platform, without ever facing an opponent in a debate.
This year, two seats on the School Board are hotly contested, a political dynamic that engages the community and that most members of the board welcome.
“What an active campaign does is get the candidate out and engaged with the community, specifically on larger issues affecting the school district,” says Lucy Mathiak, a School Board member who is vacating one of the seats that is on the April 3 ballot.
Competition may be healthy, but it can also be ugly. While the rhetoric in this year’s School Board races seems harmless compared to the toxic dialogue we’ve grown accustomed to in national and state politics, there is a palpable tension that underpins the contests.
Teachers and their union worry that Gov. Scott Walker’s attacks on collective bargaining rights and support for school vouchers could gain more traction if candidates who favor “flexibilities” and “tools” get elected to the board. Meanwhile, many in the black community feel their children are being neglected because policy-makers are not willing to challenge the unions or the status quo. District officials must contend with a rising poverty level among enrolled students and concerns about “white flight.”
In addition to massive cuts to education funding from the state, the current anxiety about the future of Madison’s schools was fueled by last year’s debate over the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy, a charter school plan devised by Kaleem Caire, the head of the Urban League of Greater Madison, to help minority students who are falling behind their white peers in academic achievement. Minority students in the Madison district have only a 48 percent four-year graduation rate and score much lower on standardized tests than do white students.
Objections to Madison Prep varied. Some thought creating a school focused on certain racial groups would be a step backward toward segregation. Others disliked the plan for its same-sex classrooms.
However, what ultimately killed the plan was the Urban League’s decision to have the school operate as a “non-instrumentality” of the Madison Metropolitan School District, meaning it would not have to hire union-represented district teachers and staff. In particular, Caire wanted to be able to hire non-white social workers and psychologists, few of whom are on the district’s current staff.

Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Seat 1 Candidates:
Nichele Nichols
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
Seat 2 Candidates:
Mary Burke
Michael Flores
1.25.2012 Madison School Board Candidate DCCPA Event Photos & Audio
Listen to the event via this 77MB mp3 audio file.
Arlene Silveira & Michael Flores Madison Teachers, Inc. Candidate Q & A

New MMSD chief diversity officer excited to get to work

A. David Dahmer:

Earlier this month, Superintendent Dan Nerad announced a preliminary plan to close the Madison Metropolitan School District’s persistent racial and socioeconomic achievement gap. Along with that proposal came the hiring of Shahanna McKinney-Baldon, the district’s first chief diversity officer, who is charged with coordinating initiatives to foster diversity in the district.
“It’s so exciting,” McKinney-Baldon tells The Madison Times at her office in the Doyle Administration Building downtown. “This is a wonderful opportunity. Madison a unique city and you have so many people engaged in the process. Everybody has been so welcoming here in Madison. People have been so willing to share their thinking. It’s been exciting to be able to identify recurring themes as I talk to people throughout the city.”
Year after year, Madison has attempted to lessen its more than 40-year-old racial achievement gap, with little positive results. With the announcing of its elaborate strategic plan and the hiring of McKinney-Baldon, MMSD hopes to signal to the community that it is “all in” as far as its efforts to end the systematic educational disenfranchisement of students in certain groups.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Our Share of Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac Losses: $1,300 Per Household

Jack Hough:

Fannie Mae said Wednesday it lost $2.4 billion during the fourth quarter of 2011 and $16.9 billion for the full year.
It has had worse years, remarkably. Fannie lost about $60 billion in 2008 and $72 billion the following year-two of the 10 largest corporate losses ever. Sibling Freddie Mac is responsible for a third, a $51 billion loss in 2008.
Fannie Mae was established in 1938 to promote home ownership by making federal funds available to lenders. In the 1950s and 1960s, it transformed into a profit-seeking corporation, with the goal of purchasing mortgages and selling them to investors, thereby replenishing funds to banks for fresh loans. Freddie Mac was created in 1970 to spur competition.

Related:, via WISTAX:

Purchase the newsletter, which includes a discussion of the Wisconsin state budget, here.

Innosight’s Michael Horn on How ‘Blended Learning’ and Technology Can Bridge the Education Gap

Knowledge @ Wharton:

Michael Horn sees the Internet providing access to a range of products and services that will help improve the way people can learn. While adult education is where on-line learning initially got its start, Horn predicts that half of high school courses in the U.S. will be taken online in less than a decade. Horn co-wrote the bestselling book Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns with Harvard Professor Clayton Christensen. He and Christensen later co-founded The Innosight Institute, a non-for profit think tank devoted to applying the theories of disruptive innovation to problems in the social sector.
In the future, Horn predicts the majority of students will be engaged in what he calls “blended learning” where they’ll learn online with control over the pace of their learning in schools with teachers providing guidance. As new technologies and applications are introduced into schools, he also predicts the future of teaching shifting into three roles: Teachers who act as mentors and motivators; content experts; and case workers that help students deal with non-academic obstacles to learning. Horn sees such changes creating a more student-centric education system where each child can learn at a customized pace and path.

College at Risk

Andrew Delbanco:

If there’s one thing about which Americans agree these days, it’s that we can’t agree. Gridlock is the name of our game. We have no common ground.
There seems, however, to be at least one area of cordial consensus–and I don’t mean bipartisan approval of the killing of Osama bin Laden or admiration for former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’s courage and grace.
I mean the public discourse on education. On that subject, Republicans and Democrats speak the same language–and so, with striking uniformity, do more and more college and university leaders. “Education is how to make sure we’ve got a work force that’s productive and competitive,” said President Bush in 2004. “Countries that outteach us today,” as President Obama put it in 2009, “will outcompete us tomorrow.”

Wisconsin DPI trying to dictate to private schools

Brother Bob Smith:

The issue of school choice has been at the forefront of political debate, media attention and community discussion for a number of reasons in recent years, and that’s good. This successful program has provided hundreds of lower-income southeastern Wisconsin families with the opportunity to choose a school that best fits their educational needs, and the more attention, review and consideration it receives, the better.
Now comes debate as to whether special education students have similar choice options and discussion about whether the program should grow, how students qualify and providing equal per-pupil reimbursements to public and private choice schools. But most troubling to me and Messmer Catholic Schools, however, is a topic that hasn’t been openly discussed but alluded to by actions of the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
As you may know, DPI recently filed a waiver request with the U.S. Department of Education seeking to be excused from the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Instead, DPI proposed its own accountability standards and intervention procedures for under-performing Wisconsin schools.

Wealthy more likely to lie, cheat: study

Elizabeth Lopatto:

Maybe, as the novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald suggested, the rich really are different. They’re more likely to behave badly, according to seven experiments that weighed the ethics of hundreds of people.
The “upper class,” as defined by the study, were more likely to break the law while driving, take candy from children, lie in negotiation, cheat to increase their odds of winning a prize and endorse unethical behaviour at work, researchers reported Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Taken together, the experiments suggest at least some wealthier people “perceive greed as positive and beneficial,” probably as a result of education, personal independence and the resources they have to deal with potentially negative consequences, the authors wrote.
While the tests measured only “minor infractions,” that factor made the results, “even more surprising,” said Paul Piff, a Ph.D. candidate in psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and a study author.

Middleton-Cross Plains must reinstate teacher who viewed porn at work

Matthew DeFour:

The Middleton-Cross Plains School District shouldn’t have fired a teacher who viewed pornographic images at work and must reinstate him with back pay and benefits — estimated at about $200,000 — an arbitrator has ruled.
Superintendent Don Johnson and the School Board said in a joint statement Wednesday they were disappointed in the decision by a private arbitrator. They plan to discuss whether to appeal the decision at a meeting scheduled for Monday at 6:30 p.m.
“This ruling completely minimizes conduct that cannot be tolerated,” the statement said. “It sends the message that it is acceptable for employees to view pornography at school, during the student-school day, on school equipment. It also flies in the face of the need to provide a professional work environment and a safe place to educate our children.”
The teacher, Andrew Harris, said in an interview he was grateful for the ruling.

Memorial Basketball Players Face Theft Charges

Theft charges have been filed against four Madison teens, including two players on Madison Memorial High School’s basketball team.
A criminal complaint charges Albert “Junior” Lomomba, 19, and Jamar Morris, 18, both top players on the basketball team, with misdemeanor retail theft.
Lomomba has a full-ride scholarship to play for Cleveland State.
The complaint also charges Max W. Genin, 17, and Lavell D. Nash, 18, with misdemeanor retail theft.

How Young Is Too Young to Learn to Code?

Christopher Mims:

When the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under 2 spend exactly zero time in front of screens, what its members are concerned about is substitution — all the time those children aren’t spending acquiring new skills and language through one-on-one interaction.
Yet a new effort by researchers at MIT’s Lifelong Kindergarten group will attempt to create a programming environment suitable for toddlers. It’s hard to imagine that any but the most precocious children would be able to interact with Scratch Jr. before the age of two, but as Heather Chaplin reports for KQED, the new software will be aimed squarely at children who have barely learned their colors, much less how to read.


Michael Sakpinker:

A French diplomat recently shrugged at news that Tunisians were rejecting his language and enrolling in English classes. “You can’t be in this globalised world without being able to speak English,” he said.
How will these eager new English speakers fare? If you believe Jean-Paul Nerrière, they will learn enough to communicate with Peruvians and Indonesians but not enough to talk to Britons, Americans or Australians.
As a long-time IBM executive, Mr Nerrière, a Frenchman, spent years observing English conversations. When a Japanese employee met a Belgian, a Chilean and an Italian, they managed. None spoke English brilliantly but each knew the others were making mistakes too. When an American or British manager walked in, everything changed. The native speakers talked too fast and used mysterious expressions, such as “from the horse’s mouth” (which horse?). The others clammed up.

Getting It Wrong On School Choice

George Mitchell:

During the last year, three different reports have claimed to compare the academic achievement of students in the Milwaukee Public Schools with students in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program.
Two conclude, erroneously, that MPS students outperform students in the choice program.
The third reaches far different conclusions.
The difference?
Two of the three, from Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction (DPI) and the Milwaukee-based Public Policy Forum (PPF), used deeply flawed methods to conclude that MPS students outperform those in the choice program. Page one stories in the Journal Sentinel validated these erroneous reports. The paper compounded the errors by wrongly suggesting that the DPI and PPF data allow individual schools to be evaluated.
The third report comes from the School Choice Demonstration Project (SCDP) at the University of Arkansas and is based on rigorous methods. Its reports, including several issued today, draw starkly different conclusions from those advanced by DPI, PPF, and Journal Sentinel news stories.
Responding to widespread attention generated by the DPI and PPF reports, the experts at the University of Arkansas refute the validity of those reports and demonstrate why they provide neither a basis for comparing MPS and Milwaukee’s school choice programs nor for evaluating individual schools.

Candidates for open Madison School Board seat bring different backgrounds to race

Matthew DeFour:

Both races for Madison School Board feature matchups between a candidate with strong business acumen and boardroom experience versus a minority candidate with experience more representative of the district’s growing student population.
That contrast is especially pronounced in the contest between former Commerce Secretary and Trek Bicycle executive Mary Burke and firefighter Michael Flores.
Madison Teachers Inc. executive director John Matthews even characterizes Burke as a “1 percenter” who doesn’t know “what it is like for a child to go to bed or go to school hungry.”
Burke, a Democrat who was endorsed by former Gov. Jim Doyle, whose wife was a teacher and whose mother served as School Board president, objects to that description.
“People who know me sort of laugh, because I don’t fit the profile of what (Matthews) is saying,” Burke said, adding she supports Occupy Wall Street values such as progressive taxation and reducing the influence of corporations in government.

Seat 1 Candidates:
Nichele Nichols
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
Seat 2 Candidates:
Mary Burke
Michael Flores
Arlene Silveira & Michael Flores Madison Teachers, Inc. Candidate Q & A
1.25.2012 Madison School Board Candidate DCCPA Event Photos & Audio

How Udacity’s Greatest Effect will be in the Developing World

Nicolas Pottier:

This brings us to Udacity, which takes all the best parts of the above approaches and marries them into an incredible teaching tool.  Audacity combines the personal, approachable first person teaching style of Kahn Academy, but then backs it up with interactive programming in Python, all right in the browser.  
The teachers are ex-Stanford professors, so they have decades of experience teaching this material, which really shows in how they present it. So far in the first week of class, they have done a great job of covering fundamentals without getting bogged down in details, getting students to start learning intuitively, by doing, while still giving them the founding blocks to know why things work the way they do.
Perhaps most importantly, Udacity has structured their CS101 course around a brilliant concept, building a search engine in eight weeks. That single act makes the course not about learning, but about doing. The class never has to answer the question ‘why are we doing this?’, because each topic is directly tied to the overall goal of building your own little Google, every piece is practical.

U (of Minnesota) execs are paid handsomely on their way out

Tony Kennedy & Jenna Ross:

Since retiring 18 months ago as chancellor at the University of Minnesota Duluth, Kathryn Martin has collected more money from the U than she did in her last two years on the job.
One of nearly a dozen university executives to step down in the past two years, Martin was granted a two-month sabbatical, a 15-month “administrative transitional leave,” a final deposit to her retirement fund, and a severance check. Total: $535,700.
Hers was the biggest in a series of compensation packages signed by former university President Robert Bruininks worth more than $2.8 million. The deals routinely granted top administrators lengthy paid leaves, then allowed them to return to faculty positions or depart the U’s payroll.
A Star Tribune review of university documents shows that seven of 10 high-ranking officials in the Bruininks administration, including the former president himself, received at least a year off with pay at their executive salaries, as well as retirement and health insurance contributions. The deals often were vague about what the administrators would do on leave. Bruininks also repeatedly waived a university policy that executives repay their stipends in the event they left the U while on leave.

Hawaii’s largest private K-12 schools plan tuition hikes

Lynn Nakagawa:

our of Hawaii’s five largest private K-12 schools are telling PBN they are planning tuition increases for the 2012-13 school year. The other one, Kamehameha Schools, has not finalized next year’s tuition, but a spokesman said it likely will increase, too.
Punahou School, Iolani School, Mid-Pacific Institute and Maryknoll School all confirmed tuition increases for next year ranging from $515 to $900.

After a couple dozen successes, Howard Tullman is building Flashpoint Academy, which he calls the front seat of the world stage

Leigh Buchanan:

That genre–or rather, that industry (clarity trumps metaphor, as the storytelling-obsessed Tullman would tell you)–is vocational education. “It’s a shame that the United States is the only country in the world where it’s considered downscale and horrible to go to any kind of vocational school,” says Tullman, pecking at his computer, which is wired to a large screen that barrages visitors to his office with wow-inducing videos and applications created by Flashpoint students and faculty. “Everyplace else, there are apprenticeships, vocational training, all kinds of paths to be successful. We need that here.”
Tullman believes training young people to fill tomorrow’s jobs is this country’s best shot at reducing unemployment and staying globally competitive. Tomorrow’s jobs, of course, is code for technology, a subject, Tullman argues, traditional four-year colleges teach poorly because faculty aren’t in the field keeping current and students don’t work across departments in interdisciplinary teams, as happens in the real world. “Part One was that every other school was teaching in these silos with tenured faculty who weren’t learning new technologies,” says Tullman, explaining what attracted him to the idea for Flashpoint, which was brought to him in 2007 by Ric Landry, the company’s co-founder. “Part Two was you had a group of kids that were only interested in digital and were not going to go to a four-year liberal-arts school and end up with their futures in hock.”

Finding the Right College for the 99% Can Be Complex

Letters to the Wall Street Journal:

Regarding Robin Mamlet and Christine Vandevelde’s “Should Colleges Be Factories for the 1%?” (op-ed, Feb. 21): When I went to college (for an engineering degree quite some time ago), the costs were so affordable that I paid all of them from summer earnings, a little savings and an occasional part-time job while in school. I lived at home and commuted, but my parents never had to pay a tuition bill. By the time my children went to college, earning enough to pay just the tuition for a state school was impossible. Now, it’s totally out of the question; students regularly graduate with tens of thousands of dollars in debt. In some cases, repayment is impossible from earnings based on their major.
It is a shame for parents to go into debt, give up vacations and other niceties, take on additional part-time work and endanger their retirement so that their children can go to college, but who then must move back in with their parents because they cannot find a job. Having a good idea of the likelihood of gainful employment should be part of the decision-making process, especially for those parents not in the “1%.”
Walter Ciciora

The Effect of Admissions Test Preparation: Evidence from NELS:88

D.C. Briggs:

For students planning to apply to a four year college, scores on standardized admissions tests–the SAT I or ACT–take on a great deal of importance. It may be the quality and quantity of an applicant’s high school coursework that receives the closest scrutiny at the more prestigious institutions, but these are cumulative indicators of performance. Standardized admissions tests, by contrast, are more of a one shot deal. Such tests are blind to a student’s high school record–instead, they are intended as an independent, objective measure of college “readiness”. For students with a strong high school record, admissions tests provide a way to confirm their standing. For students with a weaker high school record, admissions tests provide a way to raise their standing. A principal justification for the use of the SAT I and ACT in the admissions process is that such tests are designed to be insensitive to the high school curriculum and to short- term test preparation. If short term preparatory activities prior to taking the SAT I or ACT can have the effect of significantly boosting the scores of students above those they would have received without the preparation, both the validity and reliability of the tests as indicators of college readiness might be called into question.

High-stakes tests can be educational barrier

Bill Tomison:

High-stakes testing — forcing Rhode Island students to pass particular, certain tests to get a diploma — like the NECAP test, is going to have a devastating impact on every student in Rhode Island, according to a group of local organizations led by the ACLU.
Some local students also echoed the protest at a news conference Thursday morning.
The use of high-stakes testing is scheduled to be put into effect in 2014, under legislation proposed by Rhode Island Rep. Eileen Naughton and state Sen. Harold Metts. State assessments would be used to ultimately determine if students are eligible for graduation at the end of the school year.
“There is no data and no evidence anywhere that suggests that putting this test in place is going to stop the travesty of our young people not having the skills they need,” Ex. Dir. of Young Voices Karen Feldman said.

Student’s lofty fundraising goal is $30,000 in 30 days

Samara Kalk Derby:

Madison has had valuable sister city relationships with cities such as Camaguey, Cuba; Freiburg, Germany; and Arcatao, El Salvador — some stretching back almost 30 years.
Now, a 29-year-old Madison native is forging a sister community center for the Meadowood Neighborhood Center with a planned neighborhood center in Camarones, Ecuador, about three hours northwest of Quito, the country’s capital.
To that end, Emily Kalnicky, who spent three months volunteering in Camarones last year, co-founded the nonprofit Camarones Community Coalition, and recently kicked off a unique fundraising push.
Her goal is to raise $30,000 in the 30 days leading up to her 30th birthday, March 19. So far she has raised about $2,000.

Nichols seeks to unseat Silveira on School Board

Matthew DeFour:

When Arlene Silveira first ran for School Board in 2006, there was community dissatisfaction with the “status quo.” In one race, a four-term incumbent was unseated. Silveira ran for an open seat and won, but only after a recount.
There hasn’t been as much interest in a School Board election until this year, when once again the election features a closely contested open seat and an incumbent facing a spirited challenge.
However, Silveira’s opponent, Nichelle Nichols, vice president of education and learning at the Urban League of Greater Madison, acknowledged she faces an uphill battle.
Silveira wrapped up numerous early endorsements, including Madison Teachers Inc., the local teachers union. Moreover, when asked to make an argument for why voters shouldn’t re-elect her opponent to a third term, Nichols treads lightly, crediting Silveira for shepherding the district through a strategic planning process and the hiring of Superintendent Dan Nerad.
“She hasn’t ruffled any feathers,” Nichols said. “No one can point out any specific flaws.”

012 Madison School Board Candidates:
Seat 1 Candidates:
Nichele Nichols
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
Seat 2 Candidates:
Mary Burke
Michael Flores
Arlene Silveira & Michael Flores Madison Teachers, Inc. Candidate Q & A
1.25.2012 Madison School Board Candidate DCCPA Event Photos & Audio

Edgewood’s Fine Arts Festival

Pamela Cotant:

The Fine Arts Festival at Edgewood High School goes beyond showcasing student talent by bringing in a variety of guest artists who have furthered their crafts.
The first day of the recent festival was Guest Artist Day, and students had a choice of artists to visit at each of the nine sessions held throughout the day. The 28 artists were chosen to represent different cultures, historical periods and genres.
“You just get involved and you get to see things you’ve never seen before,” said junior Maura Drabik, 16.
She was one of the students who got moved by the performance of the Latin band Grupo Candela and danced at the front of the auditorium.

Poverty and Food: Why do so many people in poor countries eat so badly–and what can be done about it?

The Economist:

IN ELDORADO, one of São Paulo’s poorest and most misleadingly named favelas, some eight-year-old boys are playing football on a patch of ground once better known for drug gangs and hunger. Although they look the picture of health, they are not. After the match they gather around a sack of bananas beside the pitch.
“At school, the kids get a full meal every day,” explains Jonathan Hannay, the secretary-general of Children at Risk Foundation, a local charity. “But in the holidays they come to us without breakfast or lunch so we give them bananas. They are filling, cheap, and they stimulate the brain.” Malnutrition used to be pervasive and invisible in Eldorado. Now there is less of it and, equally important, it is no longer hidden. “It has become more visible–so people are doing something about it.”

Driving the Classroom with iTunes U

Frasier Speirs:

There was a time when iTunes U was just a section of the iTunes store where you could download audio and videos. Since Apple’s recent education event, that’s all changed. iTunes U is still a part of the iTunes Store but there’s now a dedicated iTunes U app for iOS devices.
The other major change to iTunes U was a policy change. iTunes U was previously only available to universities. At the January education event Eddy Cue stated that “starting today K-12 schools can sign up” to iTunes U. We didn’t get pre-announcement access but I signed up as soon as I could and Cedars has been accepted to iTunes U.

How We Will Read

Maud Newton & Laura Miller:

Welcome to the second installment of “How We Will Read,” a series exploring the future of reading from the perspectives of publishers, writers, and intellectuals. This week, we talked to Laura Miller and Maud Newton, founders of The Chimerist, a new blog dedicated to exploring the imaginative potential of the iPad.
In addition to ruminating on the experience of using the iPad, Maud and Laura discussed the future of narrative forms, interactive storytelling, and their hopes for the evolution of publishing. What resulted was two poetic and nuanced views of what digital reading means to people who love books. Their work at The Chimerist had already distinguished Laura and Maud as thoughtful writers at the intersection of media and technology. It was incredible to hear what else they were thinking about as they navigate this new and rapidly changing space. Check out their interview below, and be sure to check out The Chimerist, too.

Gist: Early Teacher Layoff Notices Is ‘Ridiculous Exercise’

Deborah Gist:

The requirement that school committees must provide educators with layoff notices by a March 1 deadline is a ridiculous exercise that has to be stopped. This arbitrary deadline serves no purpose except to add to the stress of teachers who are working hard every day to provide our students with a world-class education.
I do believe that when school committees face difficult decisions about laying off teachers and other educators, teachers deserve to receive timely notice of these pending layoffs that may affect their livelihoods and their careers.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: To close tax loopholes, Obama would open new ones to benefit some companies over others

Christopher s. Rugaber

President Barack Obama wants to close dozens of loopholes that let some companies pay little or nothing in taxes. But he also wants to open new ones for manufacturers and companies that invest in clean energy.
To some analysts, the new loopholes risk upending the level playing field Obama says he wants to create.
Some also fear that companies could game the system to grab the new tax breaks.
“The administration is not making sense,” says Martin Sullivan, contributing editor at publisher Tax Analysts. “The whole idea of corporate tax reform is to get rid of loopholes, and this plan is adding loopholes back in.”
Economists across the political spectrum support a kind of grand bargain: cut corporate tax rates while deleting tax breaks that benefit a favored few.

Try Singapore Math Textbooks: Your students will learn Math

Jerome Dancis, Ph.D. (math):

Many Math professors, who have looked at the Singapore K-6 Math Books, are strong advocates of them because these books
1. Do an especially good job in training students in Basic Skills and
2. Do an especially good job in providing students with Conceptual Understanding and
3. Provide an especially good background in Arithmetic and Arithmetic word problems, for the learning of Algebraic calculations and for learning how to solve Algebraic word problems.
4. Do an especially good job in training students in non-trivial Arithmetic word problems; while American texts largely avoid non-trivial Arithmetic word problems.

Dishonest Discussion

Charlie Mas:

The Seattle School Board will soon consider terminating the District’s contract with Teach for America. There is disagreement about this on the School Board, so we are likely to hear a discussion of the question with Board directors advocating for each side. This is good and healthy. This is what democracy looks like. I welcome a full discussion regardless of the eventual conclusion. I will, however, be deeply disappointed if the discussion is not honest. We have already seen the start of a dishonest discussion. This dishonest discussion needs to be stopped and it is the other Board directors who need to stop it. They need to stop it by exposing the dishonesty the moment it appears.
When the Curriculum and Instruction Policy Committee met and decided to advance this motion to the full board, one of the Board directors, Harium Martin-Morris, spoke against the termination of the Teach for America contract. Mr. Martin-Morris made one of the most loathsome and dishonest statements I have ever heard from a school board director. He said that the Board should make data-based decisions and that it was pre-mature to terminate the contract with Teach for America because they did not yet have the results of this experiment. There are so many lies packed into that statement that I’m going to need some time and space to unpack them all.

Mind your language: How linguistic software helps companies catch crooks

The Economist:

IN THE film “Superman 3”, a lowly computer programmer (played by Richard Pryor, pictured) embezzles a fat wad of money from his employer. The boss laments that it will be hard to catch the thief, because “he won’t do a thing to call attention to himself. Unless, of course, he is a complete and utter moron.” Just then the thief screeches into the car park in a brand new red sports car, radio blaring.
In the real world, embezzlers are seldom so obvious. The traditional way to snare them is to hire an accountant to scrutinise accounts for anomalies. But this is like looking for a contact lens in a snowdrift. So firms are turning to linguistic software to narrow the search.

New York Considers Shielding Teacher Evaluations

Lisa Fleishder & Jacob Gershman:

As New York City parents and teachers struggled Monday to make sense of recently published schoolteacher rankings, education officials considered whether future releases should be illegal to protect a fragile truce on a new statewide system.
Legal experts said a series of court rulings have made it increasingly clear that statistics-based portions of teacher evaluations are public information, unlike those of police officers, firefighters and other public workers specifically protected under state law.
Only a change in law, experts said, would change that. Shielding teacher rankings from public view is likely to become a new pressure point in the debate over how to measure the effectiveness of teachers, lawmakers and officials said Monday.

The burden of student debt

Mary Ellen Bell:

At the height of the Occupy protests last fall, young people held signs announcing how much they owed in student loans. While the pundits were asking each other what, exactly, the protesters wanted, a big part of the answer was on those signs: Students are leaving colleges and universities with a staggering financial burden and bleak job prospects.
“When you get out of college at 21 with a 30-year loan, it’s soul crushing,” says Scot Ross, executive director of One Wisconsin Now, a progressive organization that is launching an advocacy campaign on the issue. Ross is on leave to serve as communications director for gubernatorial candidate Kathleen Falk.
The student loan landscape has shifted dramatically since the parents of current students and recent graduates left college. In 2006, the U.S. Education Department’s National Center for Education Statistics reported that most borrowers who finished college in the early 1990s were able to manage their student loan burden. Most paid the loans back in 10 years. Today, many students face 20 to 25 years of making payments. In the early ’90s, about half of students borrowed; in 2006, two-thirds had to borrow. And their loans are much bigger.

Internet On, Inhibitions Off: Why We Tell All

Matt Ridley:

It is now well known that people are generally accurate and (sometimes embarrassingly) honest about their personalities when profiling themselves on social-networking sites. Patients are willing to be more open about psychiatric symptoms to an automated online doctor than a real one. Pollsters find that people give more honest answers to an online survey than to one conducted by phone.
But online honesty cuts both ways. Bloggers find that readers who comment on their posts are often harshly frank but that these same rude critics become polite if contacted directly. There’s a curious pattern here that goes against old concerns over the threat of online dissembling. In fact, the mechanized medium of the Internet causes not concealment but disinhibition, giving us both confessional behavior and ugly brusqueness. When the medium is impersonal, people are prepared to be personal.

Voucher students improve on reading, study finds

Erin Richards:

A sample of students in Milwaukee’s private voucher schools made gains in reading in 2010-’11 that were significantly higher than those of a matched sample of peers in Milwaukee Public Schools, but math achievement remained the same last school year, according to the results of a multiyear study tracking students in both sectors.
The results of the study are being released Monday in Milwaukee as the final installment of an examination of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, or voucher program.
The longitudinal study – meaning it tracked the same set of students over the testing period – was conducted by the School Choice Demonstration Project, a nonpartisan research center at the University of Arkansas. The group was selected by the state to conduct a long-term study of the voucher program and its impact on Milwaukee.
Rather than looking at scores of all students, the study matched a sample of 2,727 voucher students in third through ninth grades in 2006 with an equal number of similar MPS students. The study used a complex statistical methodology based on growth models.

Mike Ford and Christian D’Andrea have more.

MTI Solidarity: Leadership In Demand

Madison Teachers, Inc., via a kind Jeanie Bettner email:

Given MTI’s leadership during last year’s protests over Governor Walker stealing public employees’ rights and negating 46 years of MTI’s gains through collective bargaining, and because of MTI members’ leadership in the recall campaigns of anti-public employee Senators and the Governor, the Union has received and continues to receive requests for guidance.
Currently MTI President Peggy Coyne (Black Hawk) and MTI Faculty Representative & Recall Committee member Kathryn Burns (Shorewood) are in Osaka, Japan, where they will be presenters at a meeting of 200 to prepare for the Osaka Social Forum to be held in September. The public employees in Osaka City advise that they are facing the same kind of attacks by the new Mayor of Osaka City, who was formerly the Governor of Osaka Prefecture. The theme of this fall’s conference is how to organize resistence to the harsh attacks on union rights and public education.
In April, MTI Board of Directors’ Secretary Liz Wingert (Elvehjem) will travel to Edmonton, Alberta, where she will engage in a very similar meeting to that described above in Osaka, Japan. Similar to Wisconsin, Koch Industries registered last spring as lobbyists in Alberta. Their subsidiary, Flint Hills Resources, is among Canada’s largest crude oil purchasers, shippers and exporters. Koch Industries‘ [open secrets 2008 Senate Democrat contributions, including Obama, 2008 Republicans] Flint Hills Resources operates a crude oil terminal in Hardisty, and has offices in Calgary. Charles and David Koch are reportedly the 24th richest people in the world, with holdings worth $17.5 billion. It was David Koch who Governor Walker thought he was talking with last spring, only to have the caller being an impersonator. The New York Times reported that the Koch brothers were among Walker’s largest contributors. The Capital Times reported last Monday that David Koch said, “What Scott Walker is doing with public employee unions in Wisconsin is critically important.” The Koch brothers “Americans for Prosperity” has bought about $700,000 in TV ads in support of Governor Walker.
In Alberta, like Wisconsin, conservative legislators argue that public sector collective bargaining should be curtailed and that alternate means of delivering public services should be enabled. Alberta conservatives call it “privatization” and “managed competition”, where the lowest price gets the contract.

How Education Layoffs Are Like Pizza

Will Carless:

For the last few years, the San Diego Unified School District has announced that it will have to lay hundreds of teachers off. But each year, the total number of teachers actually laid off has ended up just a slice of that worst-case-scenario.
This pattern happens because every January, the district has to project how it will balance its budget the following year. In lean times, it does that by projecting how many people it will have to lay off.
But, in January, the district doesn’t know how much money it will have to work with the following year. It doesn’t know that until the state comes out with its budget in the summer. A lot often changes in the few months between the district making its projections and the state’s final budget. The result: The district’s projections end up way off, as hundreds of layoff notices are cancelled.
The teachers union derides this pattern as “crying wolf” and says it brings about unnecessary distress at schools. Recently, the union called on the district to stop playing the budget game. In response, the district says it’s mandated by law to project and account for the worst possible situation for its budget, and said it’s happy to work to change a union-supported law that requires it to issue layoff notices before March 15 each year.

Requiem for GSM

Future of Communications:

One of these slow alpha-waves of change in the telecosm is the upcoming decline and death of the GSM ecosystem. As the biggest and baddest technology ecosystem in the world, this is very significant. Let me point out how it might gradually corrode and collapse – albeit over a long period – and what might grow in its place.

We come to celebrate GSM

GSM is arguably the single most impactful technology on everyday human existence since the wheel. (OK, since the axle and second wheel – the first wheel was a confusing novelty.) Superlatives like “astonishing” are appropriate. In a mere two decades GSM has created a connected planetary populace. The spread and impact of even the printing press cannot compare. The core offer is a perfect packaging of human voice and simple text into GSM’s mobile telephony and SMS standards. A $20 GSM phone with a $3 service plan is near-miraculous source of value. The world’s richest man is an emerging-market GSM entrepreneur, not a software mogul or energy tsar. This is a technology that has outpaced even the spread of clean water and mains electricity.

This achievement cannot be understated, and should not be diminished. Too many Web-heads dismiss the benefits that GSM has brought. It wasn’t the Internet that connected billions, it was GSM.

Thanks to Brian S. Hall for the pointer.
Well worth Reading.

A Simple Spreadsheet Strikes a Nerve Among Adjuncts

Michael Stratford:

Energized by his fellow adjunct professors who had gathered for a national meeting last month in Washington, D.C., Joshua A. Boldt flew home to Athens, Ga., opened his laptop, and created a Google document.
On his personal blog, the 32-year-old writing instructor implored colleagues to contribute to the publicly editable spreadsheet, detailing their pay per course and other working conditions, noting their institutions and departments. The goal of the crowdsourcing project, Mr. Boldt said, was to praise universities that treat adjunct professors well and “out” those institutions that do not.
“Let’s combine forces,” he wrote. “Fill in as much information as you feel comfortable doing, and be sure to tweet this document and share it. … “

Andrew Cuomo’s Teacher Evaluation Overhaul Meets Diane Ravitch’s Maudlin Mind

RiShawn Biddle:

One would think education traditionalists would be as slightly relieved by the deal New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo forced the state’s education department to strike with the American Federation of Teachers’ state affiliate as school reformers are (slightly irrationally) exuberant. While Value-Added analysis of student test score growth over time culled from the state’s standardized tests would account for at least a fifth — and as much as 40 percent — of the overall evaluation, the overall evaluation will still be largely based on classroom observations that are generally less accurate in reflecting their performance than student surveys. Considering that districts can still base half of the test portion of evaluations from third-party instruments (instead of from state tests, as Cuomo had wanted), teacher evaluations will still remain less useful than they could be in rewarding high-quality teaching and helping teachers improve performance. From where your editor sits, the deal is just a slight change for the better, either for good-to-great teachers or for our children. For reformers, it’s a cosmetic victory, and for education traditionalists, it’s far less of a defeat than they could have otherwise expected.

More action needed to bolster good behavior

Alan Borsuk:

I don’t know exactly what happened during a funeral at a church at N. 53rd and W. Burleigh streets last Tuesday, but I know it was bad.
I know a lot more about what happened in the library at Bradley Tech High School the next morning, and I know it was good.
I took rather personally the debacle at the church, where the funeral of a teenage murder victim attracted a large crowd of youths and a ruckus among them brought police rushing to the scene. I live nearby. My synagogue is about 50 yards from the church. My neighbors and my family don’t like visitors like these kids in our still-pretty-solid neighborhood.
The next morning, I was in the library at Bradley Tech as about 20 students from Tech and Vincent High School demonstrated the “restorative justice” program that helps them deal with problems and resolve disputes constructively. They were celebrating a $90,000 grant from AT&T to support that program and a program aimed at boosting math success.

Why College Aid Makes College More Expensive

Jack Hough:

Federal aid for students has increased 164% over the past decade, adjusted for inflation, according to the College Board. Yet three-quarters of Americans and even a majority of college presidents see college as unaffordable for most, and that sentiment has been steadily spreading, the Pew Research Center reports.
Two new studies offer clues on why. One measures the degree to which some colleges reduce their own aid in response to increased federal aid. The other suggests federal aid is helping to push college costs higher.

Madison School District Open Enrollment Enterers & Leavers

Superintendent Dan Nerad:

Under Open Enrollment, students may transfer into an MMSD school from another district or transfer out to another district – “enterers” versus “leavers.” This report focuses primarily on Open Enrollment leavers. There is also some discussion of the net effect of Open Enrollment, which is the number of leavers minus the number of enterers. This report does not discuss students attending private/parochial schools or home schooled students.
For the 2011-12 school year, MMSD has 913 leavers and 213 enterers for a
net effect of 700 students choosing to attend a district other than MMSD.
Of the 913 leavers for 2011-12, 580 were “continuing leavers” meaning they open enrolled outside of the District in previous years. That leaves 333 first time leavers for the current school year.
The growing number of leavers in recent years is the result of a cumulative increase over several years – those who are continuing leavers are still included in our counts in the following years. Because of this, it will take time to reverse the net number of leavers and first time leavers are of particular interest.
First time leavers increased only slightly from 2010-11 to 2011-12. If we discount the one-time bump for the first class of 4K, the number of first time leavers went down for the first time since at least 2005-06.
It is also important to note that nearly half of the students that are leavers never attended MMSD and could be considered “stayers” for other districts.
In terms of why people leave the district, we rely on a 2009 survey of leavers.

Charts (10MB PDF).

Supersizing: Obama’s Higher Educational Strategy

Peter Wood:

The most conspicuous part of President Obama’s agenda for higher education is his plan for gigantic increases in enrollment. Obama announced this goal very early in his term. In February 2009, in a speech to a joint session of Congress he declared, “by 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.” Translated into actual enrollments, that would mean more than doubling the number of domestic students attending the nation’s colleges and universities.
Last week in Obama’s Higher-Education Agenda I said I would in a series of posts examine the eight majors components of that agenda, and then try to put them together as a whole. His dream of gargantuan expansion comes first both as first-announced and as the foundation for everything else.
The idea of gargantuan expansion did not pop out of the blue. Rather it popped out of the College Board in a report released just before Obama’s inauguration, and it also popped out of a two-page ad that appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe in December 2008. The College Board report, Coming to Our Senses: Education and the American Future, called for granting college degrees to at least 55 percent of “young Americans” by 2025. The “young Americans” qualifier is important. This was a summons not for more more adult and continuing post-secondary education, but for a radical increase in college education for those under age 35. And it wasn’t just a call for increased enrollments, but for actual graduates.
The proposal was–there is no finer word for it–nuts.
As I pointed out at the time, in Cold Brine and The Battle of Bunker Hill, if you sat down and did the calculations on the basis of census data and actual enrollments, to grant 55 percent of young Americans college degrees by 2025 would mean awarding 129 million college degrees between 2009 and 2025–57 million more than would have been awarded at 2008 rates. Even if you think that is a good idea, American colleges and universities had then and still do not have anything like the capacity to accomplish it. To get there, colleges would need to more than double their enrollments and sustain them at that higher level. How many colleges and universities could have done that starting in 2009?

Triggering School Reform–and Union Dirty Tricks: In California, parent power brings out the worst in the education establishment.

David Feith:

Where’s the toughest battlefield in American education these days? Certainly New Orleans and Harlem host controversially high concentrations of charter schools, while New Jersey and Louisiana boast governors who challenge teachers unions with verve. But for downright nastiness, Southern California is ground zero.
SoCal earns this dubious distinction largely because of the educational establishment’s rage over “parent trigger,” a reform that’s been on California’s books since January 2010. It’s a “lynch mob provision,” declared Marty Hittelman, president of the powerful California Federation of Teachers. Why? Because it gives unprecedented rights to parents whose children are stuck in failing public schools. If more than 50% sign a petition, they can force a school closed, shake up its administration, or turn it into a charter.
The first parent trigger was pulled in December 2010 at Compton’s McKinley Elementary School. Immediately, McKinley teachers began leaning on parents to rescind their signatures–first at a PTA meeting, then by pressuring their kids during school. Soon the school district insisted that parents validate their signatures by appearing at McKinley with official photo identification–naked intimidation of those who were undocumented immigrants and a violation of the First Amendment, said Los Angeles Superior Court. Yet the district persisted, soon rejecting every parent’s signature on technicalities that are still tied up in court a year later.

Enlightenment for Sale

Chris Patten:

Tutorial: Dr Pangloss instructs his young charge in this illustration by Quentin Blake for the Folio Society’s 2011 edition of Voltaire’s ‘Candide’
What Are Universities For?, by Stefan Collini, Penguin, RRP£9.99, 240 pages
In recent years publishers have taken increasingly to decorating their covers with endorsements. Had I been asked to contribute some such remark on this book, I would have proffered (borrowing from Evelyn Waugh), “Up to a point, Lord Copper.”
Professor Stefan Collini, who holds a chair in intellectual history and English literature at Cambridge University, appears to come from what we might describe as the unregenerate, conservative left. Old Tories may have a little sympathy for his approach, particularly his refusal (at the very least) to make an idol of the market and his passionate defence of autonomous institutions. He does not go as far as that other, alas now dead, Cambridge man of the left, Tony Judt, in denouncing the “system of enforced downward uniformity” that has clipped and confined meritocracy over the past 40 years. But you feel that he would have quite liked to go that far, if only he had dared challenge the phony egalitarianism that has played such havoc with our education system.

To Be Black at Stuyvesant High

Fernanda Santos:

LIKE a city unto itself, Stuyvesant High School, in Lower Manhattan, is broken into neighborhoods, official and otherwise. The math department is on the 4th of its 10 floors; biology is on the 7th. Seniors congregate by the curved mint wall off the second-floor atrium, next to lockers that are such prime real estate that students trade them for $100 or more. Sophomores are relegated to the sixth floor.
In Stuyvesant slang, the hangouts are known as “bars.” Some years ago, the black students took over the radiators outside the fifth-floor cafeteria, and the place soon came to be known as the “chocolate bar,” lending it an air of legitimacy in the school’s labyrinth of cliques and turfs.
It did not last long. This year, Asian freshmen displaced the black students in a strength-in-numbers coup in which whispers of indignation were the sole expression of resistance. There was no point arguing, said Rudi-Ann Miller, a 17-year-old senior who came to New York from Jamaica and likes to style her hair in a bun, slick and straight, like the ballerina she once dreamed of becoming.

Best Student Cities in the World 2012

QS Top Universities:

QS is proud to announce the first ever QS Best Student Cities ranking. Based on a complex set of measures taken from public information, surveys and data submitted as part of the QS World University Rankings, the results provide a new way of comparing the best cities around the world in which to be a student.
Click the city name in the table below in order to view the full details and profile for that city, including a list of all of the qualifying educational institutions, population size, quality of living, affordability and student mix.

Introduce a girl to engineering

Julie Ledger:

Today, in honor of the 11th annual “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Week,” I encourage you to do just that. Our country faces a critical need to increase the number of students entering engineering programs and professions if we are to continue to be a global leader in economic output, innovation and technology.
A recent study, performed by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, reported a staggering statistic: Only 11% of practicing engineers are women. The clear answer to this chronic shortage lies in encouraging more women to enter a profession in which they are currently outnumbered nearly nine to one.
And what better city to lead this effort than Milwaukee? Here, we have some of the best resources in the nation, including Marquette University’s state-of-the-art new facility for its College of Engineering, UWM’s anticipated construction of an engineering and research facility and, of course, the renowned Milwaukee School of Engineering, which boasts an impressive 95% placement rate for its graduates.
To effectively reach young women, we need to paint a more accurate picture of the rich professional life of an engineer and the many paths one can take with an engineering degree. Too often, people picture a career spent mulling over mathematical and scientific equations and a vast array of technical jargon. Yes, these are critical components of the profession, but it isn’t the end-all and be-all of a profession related to engineering – and it might not be the most appealing selling point to women.

Intergenerational Mobility

Steve Hsu:

I went back to Bowles and Gintis to compare their results to those of Greg Clark that I posted about recently. The largest correlation reported by Bowles and Gintis for intergenerational earnings is 0.65, obtained when fathers’ and sons’ earnings are averaged over multiyear periods, whereas Clark finds a (roughly) 0.7 — 0.8 correlation between parental and children’s social and economic status. Clark was studying the past 200 years, using rare surnames, whereas Bowles and Gintis concentrated on the modern era. Even the lower value of 0.42 (more typical of results cited by Bowles and Gintis) implies some persistent stratification, as shown in the figure below.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: San Jose Confronts Pension Burden

Bobby White:

The Bay Area’s biggest city next week is expected to issue a five-year forecast that will likely become part of a rancorous debate over how to overhaul municipal pensions and ease their growing burden on San Jose.
With costs outpacing revenue, the city has laid off or cut the positions of more than 20% of its work force in the past three years.
The forecast, which is issued every year by the Office of Management and Budget, will be used by the City Council and mayor to decide what cuts need to be made to reach a balanced budget.
San Jose officials and unions disagree over the size of the city’s projected pension burden, but the city’s actual costs have been rising for years as returns on pension-fund investments haven’t kept pace with retiree payouts, which were negotiated during better economic times.
About 25% of San Jose’s police and fire retirees receive pensions of $100,000 or greater, according to city records.

UW-Madison student seeks details about how fees are spent

Todd Finkelmeyer:

How much say should students have in how their mandatory fees are used?
It’s a topic UW-Madison sophomore Sarah Neibart is attempting to bring some attention to by contacting reporters and writing letters to the editor.
Here are some basics: A full-time student attending UW-Madison pays about $540 in mandatory segregated fees each semester (a figure that’s on top of tuition, which is $4,835 per semester for an in-state undergrad). Over the course of an entire academic year, this means students across campus contribute a combined $42 million in segregated fees.
When a unit on campus utilizes these dollars, it must submit an annual budget proposal outlining how they’re spent.

Union rights a campaign hot potato

Jack Craver:

Labor was even overshadowed by a multitude of non-policy-related issues Democrats launched at Republicans, such as (ultimately recalled) Sen. Randy Hopper’s extra-marital affair and a conservative group’s use of a narrator whose voice is strikingly similar to that of actor Morgan Freeman. (Incredibly, it’s not the first time somebody has accused Republicans of mimicking the star’s patented Delta drawl in TV ads)
“I think that the terminology of collective bargaining is not one that if you did a poll resonates because of the way the right-wing has killed private sector unions,” says John Matthews, executive director of Madison Teachers Inc., the local teachers union.
Jim Palmer, the head of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, agrees, and says unions should take some of the blame for the public’s lack of understanding of labor rights.
No matter what candidates are saying, however, Matthews makes one point clear:
“Any Democrat would be better than Walker.”

Middleton school leader to run for Assembly

Jessica Vanegeren:

Middleton-Cross Plains School Board President Ellen Lindgren plans to run for the Assembly, making her the first candidate to enter the race for the redrawn 79th District.
Lindgren, who announced her candidacy earlier this week after filing in November, has served for 17 years on the Middleton-Cross Plains Area Board of Education, the last six as its president.
She says if elected she would continue to serve as president of the School Board.
Lindgren, 62, frequented the Capitol during the height of the protests. She says she went to protest Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s $1.6 billion cut in state aid to education to “show solidarity with teachers” and to oppose what she described as a time when “our democracy was being shredded” by politicians.

The Disadvantages of an Elite Education

William Deresiewicz:

It didn’t dawn on me that there might be a few holes in my education until I was about 35. I’d just bought a house, the pipes needed fixing, and the plumber was standing in my kitchen. There he was, a short, beefy guy with a goatee and a Red Sox cap and a thick Boston accent, and I suddenly learned that I didn’t have the slightest idea what to say to someone like him. So alien was his experience to me, so unguessable his values, so mysterious his very language, that I couldn’t succeed in engaging him in a few minutes of small talk before he got down to work. Fourteen years of higher education and a handful of Ivy League degrees, and there I was, stiff and stupid, struck dumb by my own dumbness. “Ivy retardation,” a friend of mine calls this. I could carry on conversations with people from other countries, in other languages, but I couldn’t talk to the man who was standing in my own house.
It’s not surprising that it took me so long to discover the extent of my miseducation, because the last thing an elite education will teach you is its own inadequacy. As two dozen years at Yale and Columbia have shown me, elite colleges relentlessly encourage their students to flatter themselves for being there, and for what being there can do for them. The advantages of an elite education are indeed undeniable. You learn to think, at least in certain ways, and you make the contacts needed to launch yourself into a life rich in all of society’s most cherished rewards. To consider that while some opportunities are being created, others are being cancelled and that while some abilities are being developed, others are being crippled is, within this context, not only outrageous, but inconceivable.

U.S. Bachelor Degree Rate Passes Milestone

Richard Perez-Pena:

More than 30 percent of American adults hold bachelor’s degrees, a first in the nation’s history, and women are on the brink of surpassing men in educational attainment, the Census Bureau reported on Thursday.
The figures reflect an increase in the share of the population going to college that began in the mid-1990s, after a relatively stagnant period that began in the 1970s. They show significant gains in all demographic groups, but blacks and Latinos not only continue to trail far behind whites, the gap has also widened in the last decade.q

UW profs shed light on ALEC’s threat to public education

Todd Finkelmeyer:

University of Wisconsin-Madison professors Julie Underwood and Julie Mead are expressing concern over the growing corporate influence on public education in an article published Monday.
In particular, they are highly critical of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which connects conservative state legislators with like-minded think tanks, corporations and foundations to develop “model legislation” that can be enacted at the state level.
Underwood is the dean of UW-Madison’s School of Education, while Mead chairs the ed school’s department of educational leadership and policy analysis. The two make their opinions known in an article they co-authored for the March issue of Phi Delta Kappan magazine, which serves members of the PDK professional organization for educators.
Underwood says much of the information in the article is an outgrowth of research she conducted while helping get the website up and running last summer.


The Way We Plagiarise Now

The Syllabi:

Quentin Rowan published a novel, called Assassin of Secrets, under a pseudonym last year. It had been on sale for 5 days before anyone noticed that almost every word of it was plagiarised. Half of the novel alone is made up of various extracts from Charles McCarry’s writing, and the other half stitches bits and pieces of Robert Ludlum, John Gardner, Adam Hall, and a couple of others together. As is inevitable in these cases, it soon came out that much of Rowan’s past work was plagiarised too, but Assassins of Secrets makes for an interesting case study in modern plagiarism.

Public Schools Create Citizens In A Democratic Society

Jeffrey Mirel:

How do you get people who hate each other learn to resolve their differences democratically? How do you get them to believe in ballots not bullets?
What if the answer is “public schools” and the evidence for it is in our own history during the first half of the twentieth century?
In the years spanning about 1890-1930, two institutions–public schools and the foreign language press–helped generate this trust among the massive wave of eastern and southern European immigrants who came to the U.S. during that time. This is not a traditional “melting pot” story but rather an examination of a dynamic educational process.
The majority of these immigrants were dramatically different from the native born Americans they encountered here. Most immigrants knew no English, worshipped at synagogues or Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox churches, and had little knowledge of democracy. Many native born Americans viewed this “invasion of immigrants” as akin to the onslaught of the barbarians who destroyed Rome. Indeed, some argued that these newcomers were genetically incapable of becoming Americans.

Madison School chief Nerad weighs in on relationships

Paul Fanlund:

Well, that covers everyone who appeared in my column. One might see all of this as damage control, but I didn’t think the column was all that damaging. Anyway, here is Nerad’s text:

Dear friends,
Community input on our preliminary plan to close the achievement gap is off to a good start. We held our first input session this week at West High School and had 50 participants who spent two hours learning more about the preliminary plan and providing us input on how to make it better.
I couldn’t be more pleased with the start of this conversation, and I look forward to it continuing in the coming weeks. We are holding 12 more sessions between now and the end of March — from our larger community conversation to smaller neighborhood-based sessions.
You can read more about the sessions in WISC’s editorial, “closing the gap together.” I agree that this is the most important issue we face as a community

Which is the Best Language to Learn?

Intelligent Life:

For language lovers, the facts are grim: Anglophones simply aren’t learning them any more. In Britain, despite four decades in the European Union, the number of A-levels taken in French and German has fallen by half in the past 20 years, while what was a growing trend of Spanish-learning has stalled. In America, the numbers are equally sorry. One factor behind the 9/11 attacks was the fact that the CIA lacked the Arabic-speakers who might have translated available intelligence. But ten years on, “English only” campaigns appeal more successfully to American patriotism than campaigns that try to promote language-learning, as if the most successful language in history were threatened.
Why learn a foreign language? After all, the one you already speak if you read this magazine is the world’s most useful and important language. English is not only the first language of the obvious countries, it is now the rest of the world’s second language: a Japanese tourist in Sweden or a Turk landing a plane in Spain will almost always speak English.

Analysis of Census Finds 4.9% in 2010, Down From 5.3% a Decade Earlier; Decline Is First Recorded in Labor Force Since 1950

Connor Dougherty & Rob Barry:

The share of American workers in the science and engineering professions fell slightly in the past decade, ending what had been a steady upward trend in the proportion of workers in fields associated with technological innovation and economic growth.
Workers in technical fields ranging from architecture to software design accounted for 4.9% of the labor force in 2010, according to a new analysis of Census data being released on Friday, down from a peak of 5.3% in 2000.
Before 2000, the share of these knowledge workers had increased in every 10-year Census since 1950, according to the Population Reference Bureau, a nonprofit demographic research group in Washington that conducted the study. While the total number of workers in these fields continued to grow in the 2000s, along with the rise in total population, they now account for a relatively smaller slice of the work force.

Class acts: how top teachers get results

Linda Yeung:

Professor Chung Yue-ping of Chinese University smiles a lot. It’s not because he is one of eight recipients of the university’s latest Outstanding Teacher Award, though. That’s just the way he is.
Since working as a primary school teacher in the early 1970s, he has made a point of focusing on his students’ strengths rather than their weaknesses, so he is not easily frustrated in his work. His open, non-judgmental style made him popular with students of all ages, some of whom are now school principals and even professors.

AVID/TOPS: Program making a difference for Madison’s East student, community

A. David Dahmer:

“AVID/TOPS has been an awesome experience for me,” says Alexis Tecuatl, a senior at Madison East High who has been in the AVID/TOPS program for about two and a half years and will be attending the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh next fall.
“I found out about UW-Oshkosh through AVID/TOPS. We did college visits and we went to a lot of different universities around Wisconsin and Oshkosh really stood out to me,” Alexis remembers. “I’m going to be kinda nervous because I’m the first one [in my family] going to college. But I am excited.”
AVID is college readiness system that includes an elective course focused on organizational strategies, study skills, critical thinking, tutorial support and career and college awareness. In addition, the Boys & Girls Club through TOPS provides full-time student coordinators in each of the four high schools, summer internships, after-school mentors, and provides funding for more than 40 tutors during the elective course and a variety of college and career field trips.

Madison East auditorium may get boost from public-private matching funds

Matthew DeFour:

Madison East High School senior Delia Ross remembers her freshman year band teacher telling students in her class they would be performing in a renovated auditorium before they graduated.
But despite a fundraising effort launched two years ago with the goal of raising $3.5 million by East’s 90th anniversary this year, the auditorium remains an ugly, acoustically dysfunctional lecture hall full of uncomfortable burnt orange bowling alley chairs.
“It’s really disappointing,” said Ross, who is performing in an upcoming production of Macbeth. “My brother will be a freshman next year, so maybe in his time they’ll get a new theater.”
The chances of that and other district building improvements happening are getting a boost from an administration proposal to create a program to match private donations for building projects with public funds.

New York Releases Teacher Rankings

Lisa Fleisher:

New York City on Friday released internal rankings of about 18,000 public schoolteachers who were measured over three years on their ability to affect student test scores.
The release of teacher’s job-performance data follows a yearlong legal battle with the United Federation of Teachers, which sued to block the release and protect teachers’ privacy. News organizations, including The Wall Street Journal, had requested the data in 2010 under the state Freedom of Information Law.
Friday’s release covers math and English teachers active between 2007 and 2010 in fourth- through eighth-grade classrooms. It does not include charter school teachers in those grades.
Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, who has pushed for accountability based on test scores, cautioned that the data were old and represented just one way to look at teacher performance.
“I don’t want our teachers disparaged in any way and I don’t want our teachers denigrated based on this information,” Mr. Walcott said Friday while briefing reporters on the Teacher Data Reports. “This is very rich data that has evolved over the years. … It’s old data and it’s just one piece of information.”


NCLB Waiver Undermines Charter School Accountability

Mike Ford:

A tweet today by State Superintendent Tony Evers on the Department of Public Instruction’s (DPI) desire for authority to intervene in charter schools caught my eye. Evers, who was responding to a New York Times editorial, wrote:

“if weak charters stay open, students are deprived & public $ wasted. Our ESEA waiver will help us take action.”

Indeed, the state’s federal No Child Left Behind waiver will give DPI the ability to intervene in and eventually close charter schools it deems low performing. The waiver, if granted, will undermine the very idea of charter schools.
The charter school concept is simple:

Oral Online Dictionaries Help Preserve Languages, Cultures Muted by Modernity

Robert Lee Hotz:

In 2009, linguist David Harrison first encountered the speakers of Matukar Panau, a language common to about 600 people in two small villages in the hills of Papua New Guinea.
The villagers had no written alphabet, no electricity and no computers. But they had heard of the Internet and believed that if their language were to survive, they would have to put it on the Web.
Now they can. At a science conference here Friday, Mr. Harrison, of Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, and his colleagues at National Geographic’s Enduring Voices project unveiled a set of online talking dictionaries that for the first time document the sound, syntax and structure of Matukar Panau and record seven other unusual, vanishing languages, including Tuvan in Mongolia, Chamacoco in Paraguay and Ho, Sora and Remo in India.

Rely on Merit, Not Race

Steve Hsu:

In considering Fisher v. University of Texas, let’s acknowledge a key factual point about affirmative action: We have good tools for predicting college success, and those tools work about equally well across all ethnic groups and even for rich legacy candidates.
Race-based preference produces a population of students whose intellectual strength varies strongly according to race.
In comprehensive statistics compiled as part of Duke University’s Campus Life and Learning project, Asian-American students averaged 1457 out of 1600 on the math and reading portion of the SAT, compared to 1416 for whites, 1347 for Hispanics and 1275 for blacks. There is every reason to believe that a similar pattern holds at almost every elite university in America, with some notable exceptions like Caltech. Is this pattern justifiable, or even beneficial to the students with the lowest scores?
The data show that SAT score and high school grade point average are good predictors of success at Duke for all ethnic groups, as well as for wealthy legacy students. Those students admitted with weaker SAT scores and high school grades are more likely to drop out of challenging majors like science and engineering, and less likely to earn good grades in any major.

Lecture of Interest on March 20t: Carl Wieman, Assoc. Director for Science, Office of Science and Technology, US White House

Via a kind reader’s email:

I am pleased to ask you to help me spread the word about a public lecture by Carl Wieman, who directs the Science office of the White House Office of Science and Technology. As the attached flyer indicates, he will present a public lecture (topic: taking a scientific approach to science teaching) on:
Tuesday, MARCH 20, at 2 pm
in the DeLuca Forum of the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery
(tasty reception to follow)
I believe many on campus who care about STEM teaching and learning would want to know about this lecture; thank you very much for helping by sending the attached flyer to your various relevant mailing lists, and asking folks to post copies of the poster.
Thank you!
Susan B. Millar, PhD
Founding Director Emeritus, Education Research Integration Area
Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery
Senior Scientist, Wisconsin Center for Education Research
University of Wisconsin-Madison
608-332-8496 (c)

Let’s invest in immersion schools

Alex Runner:

People talk a lot about China. It seems as though its economy has been steadily gaining steam longer than Justin Bieber has been alive. But here’s something else that is increasing significantly in China: widespread interest in the French language and culture.
“Chinese students’ interest in France is growing dramatically,” Anthony Chaumuzeau, cultural counselor of the French embassy in China, told Beijing Today last year. “They go there to study not only history and language but also for an understanding of what’s happening economically and politically.” Chaumuzeau estimated that the number of Chinese students in France would likely exceed 50,000 by 2015.
Chinese students aren’t just learning French. The number who are coming to the United States and gaining fluency in English is also skyrocketing. (Nearly 160,000 Chinese students enrolled in U.S. colleges in 2010, an all-time high, up 23% from the year before.)

Chicago Shake-Up Targets 17 Schools

Stephanie Banchero:

This city’s school board voted Wednesday to shake up the teaching staffs at 17 low-performing public schools, handing Mayor Rahm Emanuel a victory in his battle with the teachers union and highlighting an increasingly aggressive stance on education overhauls by a number of Democratic mayors nationwide.
The Chicago Board of Education voted to close five elementary schools, phase out one high school and “turn around” 10 schools by firing all the teachers and making them reapply for jobs. One other high school will convert to a new school with a health-science focus.
Six of the schools would be given over to the Academy for Urban School Leadership, a non-profit organization with a record of student achievement and close political ties to Mr. Emanuel.

A handful of schools and community groups are sweeping aside old taboos and finding creative ways to teach children about sex and responsibility

Elaine Yau:

How do you teach children about the birds and the bees in the digital age? Touchscreens mounted on the walls of the Family Planning Association’s mobile classroom point to changing approaches. Housed in a converted truck, the facility is now equipped with tablet PCs and gaming devices instead of shelves of books and videos.
“Turgid texts are being replaced by interactive video games and animation about how babies are conceived in the womb,” says the FPA’s education manager, Grace Lee Ming-ying.

Know Your Madisonian: Barbara Bitters tries to get more girls involved in math and science

Matthew DeFour:

Though schools no longer separate boys into shop class and girls into home economics, girls continue to be under-represented in math and science fields, something Barbara Bitters has spent much of her career trying to change.
Bitters, 62, recently retired as assistant director for the career and technical education team at the Department of Public Instruction where she spent 37 years.
Bitters helped establish the women’s studies program at UW-Madison while a graduate student from 1972 to 1975. That led to a job at DPI helping the state figure out the implications of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the law that prohibits gender discrimination in schools.
In December, the White House honored Bitters as one of 12 “Champions of Change” for leading the effort to recruit and retain girls and women in what are referred to as the STEM fields.

Discrete Math Lectures

In a World of Ideas:

basic set theory,
countability and counting arguments,
proof techniques,
mathematical induction,
graph theory,
discrete probability,
recurrence relations,
and number theory.
Emphasis is placed on providing a context for the application of the mathematics within computer science.

Parents Feeling Ignored in School Reforms

Rebecca Vevea:

Chicago Public School officials are making big changes during their first year in office, but there’s a group of people feeling shut out once again — parents.
Despite a well-publicized commitment to involve parents in the city’s public education system, some of them are not happy with how Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his school team are following through. And some say they are still not familiar with the new Office of Community and Family Engagement.
“I’ve heard of the new department, but I quite honestly have no idea what they do,” said Jonathan Goldman, a parent and Local School Council member at Drummond Montessori School, a sought-after magnet program.
The district has long been accused of excluding parents from its decision-making process. “To be fair, C.P.S. has never, under any recent administration, been a bastion of parent engagement,” Goldman said.
To address that reputation, Jean-Claude Brizard, C.P.S. chief executive, created the office last July and said it would focus solely on parents and school communities. He said the new office would concentrate the responsibilities of several former departments — the Office of Local School Council relations, the Office of External Affairs and other now-defunct departments — into one unit that would report directly to him.

Democrat Hanauer: On Education, “McKenna Is On the Right Track, We Are Not.”


Major Democratic Party donor and education reform advocate Nick Hanauer has responded to Washington Education Association president Mary Lindquist. Lindquist wrote an open letter to PubliCola yesterday criticizing Hanauer for denouncing the Democrats’ position on ed reform and announcing that he planned to meet with Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna.
Here’s Hanauer’s response to teachers’ union president Lindquist.

Dear Mary,
Thank you for your recent open letter to me and PubliCola. It will not surprise you to hear that I disagreed with some of it.
Can you seriously argue that the kids and families in South Seattle don’t deserve better educational opportunities?
As a lifelong Democrat and committed progressive, I too believe that McKenna’s reflexive Republican positions on social issues, taxation, and the role of government are deeply misguided.
But if McKenna and Republicans are wrong in some areas, it hardly excuses us Democrats from being wrong on school reform. Here at least, McKenna is on the right track, and we are not.

Locally, I’ve heard a number of Democrats express similar frustration with the Party’s intransigence on education issues.

Why They Seem to Rise Together: Federal Aid and College Tuition

minding the campus:

It’s called “the Bennett Hypothesis,” and it explains–or tries to explain–why the cost of college lies so tantalizingly out of reach for so many. In 1987, then Secretary of Education William J. Bennett launched a quarter century of debate by saying, in effect, “Federal aid doesn’t help; colleges and universities just cream off the extra money by raising tuition.” Now Andrew Gillen, research director of CCAP–the Center for College Affordability and Productivity–has tweaked the data and produced a sophisticated “2.0” version of the hypothesis. It’s filled with heavy math, game theory and terms like “inelastic fairly vertical curves.” You probably won’t read it. We know. But it’s important. So here are some smart people who have read it, and have something to say: Peter Wood, Hans Bader, Richard Vedder, George Leef and Herbert London.

The French are right to resist Global English

Christopher Caldwell:

One of the odd stories to come out of the French-speaking province of Quebec last year was the announcement that intensive English courses would be offered to students in state schools. Odd, because in the past half-century, much of the Quebecois identity has been built on resisting English. Authorities throw the book at people for doing things that would be normal elsewhere in Canada. Last autumn, the Montreal newspaper La Presse revealed that two real estate executives had made presentations in English to a Montreal-based pension fund, violating the province’s language laws, which give workers the right to a French-speaking environment.
Now, school authorities in Quebec City are questioning whether the time is ripe for introducing those English classes after all. Their hesitation has left French-speaking parents angry. On one hand, those parents want their children to cherish their own community and its language. On the other hand, English is the international language of business, and their children will have a hard time climbing the social ladder without it.

Don’t toy with education

Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim:

English must be accorded a higher stature in schools, be given greater emphasis and longer exposure hours, coupled with the appropriate teacher training.
A CHANCE meeting with a distinguished member of the Education Review Panel at the 2011 Mahathir Science Award presentation recently revealed to me that the panel sees a definitive future in the learning of Science and Mathematics in English.
We sincerely hope that this decision by the panel is conveyed to the Prime Minister and his Government in an honest, pure and unadulterated manner.
This brings to mind the roundtable sessions in 2008 of which I attended three of five. While the contention was whether to stick to using English in primary schools or revert to mother tongue, there was hardly mention of any change at the secondary level.

Teacher seniority rights remain intact in Oakland’s public schools

Katy Murphy:

Seniority rules and teacher transfer rights will remain intact in Oakland Unified this year, despite the superintendent’s call for a change.
The recent debate in Oakland has centered on the transfer of displaced teachers — those whose schools have closed, whose positions have been cut, or who are returning from leave. Traditionally, those teachers have chosen their new job from a list of openings for which they are eligible, with the most senior employee having the first pick and principals having little to no say.
Superintendent Tony Smith had hoped to work out a different arrangement in Oakland, in an initiative called “mutual matching,” arguing it would lead to better placements and, ultimately, higher student achievement. Teachers would visit prospective schools and list their top choices; school principals would do the same, and the district would make the final placements based on both sets of preferences.
Some teachers welcomed the idea. Others expressed strong objections, or felt the process would be too rushed to put in place for the fall. This week, without the union support it needed, the district acknowledged that it had run out of time.