US Department of Justice:
Presents data on crime and safety at school from the perspectives of students, teachers, principals, and the general population. A joint effort by the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the National Center for Education Statistics, this annual report examines crime occurring in school as well as on the way to and from school. It also provides the most current detailed statistical information on the nature of crime in schools, school environments, and responses to violence and crime at school. Data are drawn from several federally funded collections including the National Crime Victimization Survey, Youth Risk Behavior Survey, School Survey on Crime and Safety, and School and Staffing Survey.
The Economist/YouGov/Polimetrix 192K PDF.
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Editorial:
It’s exhausting work, the pay is low, the fruits of the labor are sometimes hard to see. But those facts haven’t discouraged thousands of America’s brightest college students from applying to work for the fast-growing non-profit Teach for America.
Wisconsin’s most troubled urban school districts might benefit from this program, in which new graduates from some of America’s most prestigious universities spend two years teaching in low-income schools.
State education officials, local administrators and the teachers unions should make reasonable accommodations so that no artificial barriers prevent the program from being launched in Wisconsin. The Kern Family Foundation of Waukesha, which has education reform as part of its mission, is pushing to bring Teach for America to the state.
Teach for America grew out of a senior thesis by founder Wendy Kopp at Princeton University. During its first year in 1990, the organization sent 500 people into six low-income communities. This year, 5,000 TFA teachers are working across the country, and the TFA alumni network numbers thousands more.
Teach for America recruits and trains recent graduates from schools like Dartmouth, Princeton, Notre Dame, Marquette and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The 2007 class has 43 UW alumni; nearly 500 from Wisconsin’s public and private schools have participated since the program’s inception. TFA trains the new teachers and helps them obtain alternative certifications; the schools pay their salaries.
Wisconsin State Journal Editorial:
The state Court of Appeals just handed the Legislature an important assignment:
Update state laws governing public education to take advantage of the opportunities presented by online learning in virtual schools.
Lawmakers should dig into the homework, starting now.
Virtual schools, which deliver coursework via computer to educate students in their homes, have great potential as a cost-effective alternative to standard schools.
But last week the District 2 Court of Appeals in Waukesha put the future of virtual education in Wisconsin in doubt.
The court ruled that the Wisconsin Virtual Academy based in suburban Milwaukee violates state laws controlling teacher certification, charter schools and open enrollment.
The three-judge panel also put the academy in a financial bind by ordering the state to stop paying for students who attend the academy when those students are not residents of the local school district.
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Editorial:
Wisconsin kids may be locked out of the virtual schoolhouse after a state Court of Appeals decision Wednesday that threatens the future of online learning for public schoolchildren. But the Legislature can fix the problem by crafting a law that makes clear that the state supports such alternative and innovative means of instruction.
Virtual schools offer parents a credible alternative for students who don’t do well in traditional settings. Judging from 2006 Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination scores, the kids attending Wisconsin Virtual Academy are thriving. They score at or above the state average in most subjects at nearly every grade level.
This sort of competition, also seen in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, has the potential to improve education in Wisconsin. The Legislature, as well as state Superintendent Elizabeth Burmaster, must embrace such innovation instead of shrinking from it.
“They could learn a lot from our teachers about a new way of teaching,” Rose Fernandez told a radio interviewer.
She’s a parent at Wisconsin Virtual Academy, the Fredonia-based online public charter school. She was talking about the Wisconsin Education Association Council, the state teachers union whose slogan is, “Every kid deserves a great school.”
WEAC, not in a learning mood, had just gotten a court to outlaw Fernandez’s kids’ great school. About 850 children who attend the school are now left hanging after Wednesday’s Wisconsin Court of Appeals decision. The school will stay open while it appeals, but a further loss would endanger every virtual school in the state.
Why would the teachers union try to kill a high-performing public school?
Because, said a written statement from the union, laws written for traditional schools can’t be applied to virtual schools. We need new laws to “make them accountable.”
Accountable? Such as testing students and reporting results? They do that. The academy’s scores on state tests are just dandy – exactly in line with schools in Cross Plains, Mukwonago and Fond du Lac that the academy families I talked to would otherwise use. Ninety-two percent of the academy’s students score proficient or advanced in reading.
And if the virtual school doesn’t satisfy, parents can put their kids back in the school down the block. Yet it’s the virtual school that may get closed. Have you heard of the union suing to close any brick-and-mortar schools that are failing?
All irrelevant, argued the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. It sought, with the union, to close the academy. Whether the school successfully teaches is beside the point, said the department’s lawyer. Whether it fits the state’s regulatory model is what counts. The court agreed.
This makes Wisconsin unique, says Susan Patrick, who heads the North American Council for Online Learning. She used to head educational technology at the U.S. Department of Education. She says to her knowledge, no state has shut down virtual schools over a teacher licensing dispute.
Andrew Freeman, via a reader’s email:
Encouraging teens to drive safely, honor a curfew, or simply make good choices is an enormous task. However, there’s something else parents should add to their list — something that can open many opportunities for high school students: persuade them to take advanced math.
Trust me. I know how hard it can be to convince high school students of the importance of taking a course they may not want, particularly when many seem to have an aversion to this subject. However, as a college admissions professional, I’ve seen the difficulties students experience without an adequate math background. I’ve seen how the lack of math skills limits their choices.
Chances are your son or daughter may not want to put down the video game remote to pick up a scientific calculator. They may even believe their deepest aspirations don’t require a lot of math. However, the reality is that more than 50 percent of students change their majors at least once. So, even if the major they choose now doesn’t require advanced math, the odds are good the one they pick later probably will.
And that’s not the only good reason for improving math skills. In high school, you get up to 40 weeks to learn the material. In college, you get about 15. Students who enter college without the necessary math skills are often required to take non-credit skill-building courses. This extra review could mean a crammed first semester schedule or an additional semester in college.
Math doesn’t have to be a teenager’s nightmare. Encourage them to ask questions in class, stay for help, find a tutor, access math Web sites, take advantage of WXXI’s Homework Hotline or find out if your school offers math-specific study halls.
Wisconsin Center for Education Research:
The Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE) has documented a steady increase in per-pupil education funding in the U.S. over the past 100 years. After adjusting for inflation, education funds have risen on average about 3.5% annually. UW-Madison education professor Odden says the consistent rise in spending has not, however, been accompanied by a similar rise in student performance, at least over the past 30 to 40 years.
Current education goals are thus not likely to be met without determining how better to use school resources.
Today, about 60% of the education dollar is spent on instruction. Another 10% is spent on administration, 10% on instructional and pupil support, 10% on operations and maintenance, 5% on transportation, and 5% on food and miscellaneous items. Odden says this pattern is similar across districts, regardless of demographics and enrollment.
To align resources with strategies for improving student achievement, Odden suggests thinking of education spending as divided into three “portions”:
- One portion for core instructional services, professional development, and site administration;
- A second portion for instructional and pupil support services, which help the education system accomplish the goal of student achievement in the core subjects; and
- A third portion for overhead (school operation and maintenance, transportation, food services, and central office administration).
Much more on Allen Odden. Related: K-12 Tax & Spending Climate:
From ACM Technews
MIT recently announced the completion of its OpenCourseWare project, a pioneering effort launched in 2002 to digitize classroom material for all of MIT’s 1,800 academic courses. The course material is available for free online for anyone to use.
At the completion celebration on the MIT campus in Cambridge, Mass., university President Susan Hockfield announced a new portal for OCW, one specifically designed for high school teachers and students, called “Highlights for High School.” The portal’s home page provides MIT’s introductory science, engineering, technology, and math courses, with lecturer’s notes, reading lists, exams, and other classroom information. The OCW resources, including video-taped labs, simulations, assignments, and hands-on material, have been specifically tailored to match the requirements of high school Advanced Placement studies.
Since its launch five years ago, the data on usage has been impressive. On a 50-course pilot site, an estimated 35 million users logged in, with about 15 percent being educators, 30 percent students, and the rest being what MIT calls “self learners” with no education affiliation, says OCW’s Steve Carson. The recently formed OCW Consortium has 160 member institutions creating and sharing their own course materials sites based on MIT’s model.
One of the most surprising findings is that two of MIT’s course videos, “classical mechanics” and “differential equations,” ranked in iTunes top 10 videos, at number three and number seven, respectively. “This expresses, to me, the hunger in this world for learning, and for good learning materials,” says Hockfield.
Network World Article
MIT Open Courseware For High Schools
Wisconsin Coalition of Virtual School Families Statement
WEAC (Wisconsin State Teachers Union)
Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Statement
Top Wisconsin Lobbyists (2005-2006 Legislative Session) via the Wisconsin State Ethics Board (1.7MB PDF):
Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce $1,591,931
Wisconsin Education Association Council $1,533,186
Wisconsin Hospital Association Inc (WHA) $1,532,927
Wisconsin Independent Businesses Inc $1,103,747
Wisconsin Merchants Federation $1,088,632
Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation $1,084,664
Forest County Potawatomi Community $860,260
Arjo Wiggins Appleton Limited $843,677
Wisconsin Insurance Alliance $755,313
Wisconsin Energy Corporation $722,367
Wisconsin Counties Association $720,284
Much more on the Wisconsin Virtual Academy here.
A virtual school based in the Northern Ozaukee School District plans to appeal a court ruling that it violates several state laws and ask for a stay of an order that would prevent it from receiving payments for non-district students enrolled at the school.
The ruling against Wisconsin Virtual Academy “threatens every online school program in Wisconsin,” WiVA Principal Kurt Bergland said. “There’s thousands of kids and teachers and families in all those schools that are now involved with this, whether they realize it or not.”
The decision by the District 2 Court of Appeals in Waukesha, which was released today, overturns a previous decision by an Ozaukee County judge.
“As the law presently stands, the charter school, open-enrollment and teacher certification statutes are clear and unambiguous, and the District is not in compliance with any of them,” Judge Richard Brown wrote on behalf of the three-judge panel that decided the case.
There were three issues. The first two had to do with where the school was located and where the children attend. State law requires that the answer to both questions be the district that chartered the school, Northern Ozaukee. The school’s administrative offices are located there but its teachers work from home around the state and the students, who do their work at home, also live in various locations. The Court of Appeals held that the district is, literally, located wherever its teachers live and that its students attend at wherever their home happens to be. You can read the statute that way, but that reading is by no means compelled. It seems just as plausible to say that the school is located, and children attend, at the location where the administrative offices are located.
Improvement in math and science education is a priority in Madison, as it is across the nation.
Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) training is not only of growing importance to our technology-dependent society, these disciplines also represent esthetically compelling advances in human knowledge that all students should have the opportunity to appreciate.
Since 2003, UW Madison and the Madison School District have been involved in a unique partnership, funded by the National Science Foundation, to reform science and math education from kindergarten through graduate school.
Preliminary results are encouraging. This five-year endeavor, SCALE — System-wide Change for All Learners and Educators — has partners that include three universities and large school districts in Madison, Los Angeles, Denver and Providence, R.I. The NSF made exploring new forms of partnership its key feature.
Improving STEM education has proven resistant to traditional “you do your thing, I ‘ll do mine ” approaches. SCALE ‘s successes underscore the wisdom of NSF ‘s emphasis on partnership.
SCALE incorporates research on student learning and teacher professional development. SCALE puts premiums on increasing teachers ‘ STEM subject matter knowledge and boosting their teaching skills.
In one preliminary study, teachers showed a significant increase in content knowledge after attending SCALE science professional development institutes in Los Angeles.
SCALE partners believe the most important resource in a school is its teachers, an idea that has not always been central to reform. However, the final measure of effectiveness is increased student understanding and performance. In 2009-2010, a randomized study involving 80 elementary schools in Los Angeles will provide definitive data on SCALE ‘s impact on student performance in science.
Continue reading Millar: Improving education in math and science
All are invited to the monthly meeting of the HOPE (Having Options in Public Education) meeting on Wednesday, 12/12, 6:30-8:00pm at Escape Coffee House, 916 Willy St. [Map] Featured will be brief presentations by UW Professor John Witte regarding recent research on school choice and charters, and Bryan Grau of Nuestro Mundo Community School regarding what the NMCS Board has learned navigating MMSD.
Name Lauren Cunningham
U.S. Students Fall Short in Math and Science
Teenagers in a majority of industrialized nations taking part in a leading international exam showed greater scientific understanding than students in the United States—and they far surpassed their American peers in mathematics, in results that seem likely to add to recent consternation over U.S. students’ core academic skills.
New results from the 2006 Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, released today, show U.S. students ranking lower, on average, than their peers in 16 other countries in science, out of 30 developed nations taking part in the exam.
2006 PISA Report
Girls won top honors for the first time in the Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology, one of the nation’s most coveted student science awards, which were announced yesterday at New York University.
Janelle Schlossberger and Amanda Marinoff, both 17 and seniors at Plainview-Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy High School on Long Island, split the first prize — a $100,000 scholarship — in the team category for creating a molecule that helps block the reproduction of drug-resistant tuberculosis bacteria.
Isha Himani Jain, 16, a senior at Freedom High School in Bethlehem, Pa., placed first in the individual category for her studies of bone growth in zebra fish, whose tail fins grow in spurts, similar to the way children’s bones do. She will get a $100,000 scholarship.
The three girls’ victories is “wonderful news, but I can’t honestly say it’s shocking,” said Nancy Hopkins, a biologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
As all of you are well aware, one of the most vexing issues facing public education today is funding and 14 years of revenue controls that have been placed on Wisconsin schools, causing on-going erosion in programs and services.
On Thursday, December 6, 7:00-9:00 PM, 1919 Alliant Energy Center Way, Alliant Energy Center, Madison [Map], a community forum sponsored by the Wisconsin Way will be held to discuss the issue of taxation and public investment.
The Wisconsin Way is a non-partisan, grassroots effort to create a fair and equitable funding system that promotes excellence in education and public service. Area residents with different viewpoints are being invited to come together for a public conversation on taxes and possible solutions to the challenges we face in protecting and preserving Wisconsin?s quality of life and our great schools.
To learn more about Wisconsin Way, you can the website: http://www.wisconsinway.org
We are attempting to get a head count for turnout, so if you think you might attend, please contact me (even at this late date).
Also, if you have questions, don?t hesitate to contact me. Friends and neighbors are welcome as well.
Thanks much for your consideration.
Jeff Leverich firstname.lastname@example.org Telephone 608 276-7711
Via a reader’s email:
LVM Dreams Big is working to bring the FIRST Boundless Playground to the state of Wisconsin by 8/8/08!
Join our effort to kick down physical barriers and raise a play structure that opens a world of play to all children.
Please help us build the dream so that children of all abilities can reach the highest heights and learn the lessons of childhood through play.
Since forming in 2005, the committee has worked to raise funds to support the mission of improving accessibility while also promoting physical fitness and increasing safety for all children.
December 4th 5:30-7:30 Great Dane Night! Spend an evening at the Great Dane Brew Pub [Map] – free food, fun and a very special guest! Donation Stations will also be available to help build the FIRST Boundless Playground in the state of Wisconsin!
Rose Fernandez, via a reader’s email:
On Tuesday of this week, in a Waukesha courtroom, the state governmental agency responsible for our public schools and a labor union came before the Wisconsin Court of Appeals and pleaded with the judges to keep parents out of public schools. Yes, that’s right. The state and the teachers union are at war with parents and I’m mad as heck about it. (Madder than heck, actually, but trying to keep this blog family friendly).
According to the Department of Public Instruction and the state teachers’ union, parents are the problem. And these bureaucracies know just how to fix it. They want to keep parents, and indeed anyone without a teaching license, out of Wisconsin public schools.
Of course WEAC, the state teachers’ union, likes that idea. Licenses mean dues. Dues mean power.
DPI likes it because ……..well, could it be just because WEAC does?
The lawsuit before the Court of Appeals was filed by WEAC in 2004 in an effort to close a charter school that uses an on-line individualized curriculum allowing students from all over the state to study from home under the supervision of state certified faculty. The school is the Wisconsin Virtual Academy (WIVA). The Northern Ozaukee School District took the bold step of opening this new kind of school in the fall of 2003 after DPI approved their charter. Hundreds of families around the state enrolled their children under open enrollment that first year and mine was one of them. WIVA has grown every year since and this year has more than 800 students.
In January of 2004, WEAC filed their lawsuit against the school and DPI who authorized its existence. Later that year in a stunning reversal DPI switched sides and moved to close its own public school. DPI alleges that parents are too involved in their own children’s education.
That’s right. They argue parents are too involved.
I’ve always thought parental involvement in a child’s education was a good thing. What do I know? I don’t have a teacher’s license.
This issue was discussed extensively by Gregg Underheim during the most recent Wisconsin DPI Superintendent race (April, 2005). Audio / Video here.
Much more on the Wisconsin Virtual Academy. Also check out www.wivirtualschoolfamilies.org.
When I took my first serious history course in college, the president of the university (a history buff himself) spoke to our class and encouraged us to submit our papers to various journals for publication. Being rather inexperienced, it had never occurred to me to submit anything I had ever written to anyone for publication. In my mind, I was “just” a student and couldn’t imagine anyone being interested in what I wrote.
Now it is possible not only for serious college students to publish their work, but it is also possible for serious high school history students to publish the papers that they have researched. The Concord Review gives young people this opportunity. The Review is the only quarterly journal in the world to publish the academic expository research papers of secondary history students. Papers may be on any historical topic, ancient or modern, foreign or domestic.
Many of these young authors have sent reprints of their papers along with their college application materials. Their research has helped them to gain admission to some of the nation’s (and world’’s) best universities.
Continue reading Prufrock’s Gifted Child Information Blog
Via a kind reader email: Martin Haberman:
For many urban youth in poverty moving from school to work is about as likely as having a career in the NBA.While urban schools struggle and fail at teaching basic skills they are extremely effective at teaching skills which predispose youth to fail in the world of work.The urban school environment spreads a dangerous contagion in the form of behaviors and beliefs which form an ideology.This ideology “works” for youngsters by getting them through urban middle and secondary schools.But the very ideology that helps youth slip and slide through school becomes the source of their subsequent failure.It is an ideology that is easily learned, readily implemented, rewarded by teachers and principals, and supporting by school policies.It is an ideology which schools promulgate because it is easier to accede to the students’ street values than it is to shape them into more gentle human beings.The latter requires a great deal of persistent effort not unlike a dike working against an unyielding sea.It is much easier for urban schools to lower their expectations and simply survive with youth than it is to try to change them.
The ideology of unemployment insures that those infected with it will be unable to enter or remain in the world of work without serious in-depth unlearning and retraining.Urban youth are not simply ill prepared for work but systematically and carefully trained to be quitters, failures, and the discouraged workers who no longer even seek employment.What this means is that it is counterproductive to help urban schools do better at what they now do since they are a basic cause of their graduates living out lives of hopelessness and desperation.
The dropout problem among urban youth–as catastrophic as it is–is less detrimental than this active training for unemployment.We need be more concerned for “successful” youth who graduate since it is they who have been most seriously infected.They have been exposed longest, practiced the anti-work behaviors for the longest period, and been rewarded most.In effect, the urban schools create a pool of youth much larger than the number of dropouts who we have labeled as “successful” but who have been more carefully schooled for failure.
Clusty Search on Martin Haberman. Haberman is a Distinguished Professor of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Wall Street Journal
Last year, when Amherst College welcomed 473 new students to its idyllic campus, 10% of them came from QuestBridge.
But QuestBridge is no elite private school. It’s a nonprofit start-up in Palo Alto, Calif., that matches gifted, low-income students with 20 of the nation’s top colleges. In return, the schools — including Princeton, Yale, Stanford and Columbia — give scholarships to the students and pay QuestBridge for helping to diversify their student bodies.
The program is gaining in popularity because it addresses a growing interest of private and public colleges: increasing the diversity of their student bodies without relying solely on race. Since some states banned racial preferences in college admissions, many public colleges have begun focusing on income as a means to broaden the backgrounds of their students. Private schools, while not bound by the states’ restrictions, are also eager to admit more students from low-income families.
QuestBridge isn’t the only program that helps schools achieve diversity by focusing on the economically disadvantaged. The Posse Program, launched in 1993 by a New York nonprofit, specializes in sending groups of students who already know each other to top colleges. It got its start after the founder, Deborah Biel, discovered that several of the inner-city youth she had worked with in New York had dropped out of college. When she asked why, one responded that he didn’t have his posse with him.
Another program called Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement, or MESA, helps recruit low-income students for the University of California, California State University and other California colleges. Upward Bound, a long-running federal program, feeds low-income high-school students into colleges all over the country. And some colleges, including schools that are partnering with QuestBridge, have begun their own recruiting programs for low-income students.
The efforts come as diversity remains elusive, particularly at elite colleges. According to a 2004 study by the Century Foundation, a New York-based research group, at the 146 most selective colleges in the U.S., just 3% of the students came from families that ranked in the bottom 25% in income, while 74% came from the top 25%.
Continue reading Matching Top Colleges, Low Income Students
Whenever I hear about elementary schools that have cut out social studies and science instruction in order to devote 90 minutes or even two hours a day to reading instruction, my main question is, “What on earth are the kids reading for all that time?”
It’s a rhetorical question because I pretty much know what they are reading—they are reading folk tales, adventure stories, relationship stories, some humor (the author of Captain Underpants must be very wealthy by now). Sometimes they will read some non-fiction, but not usually in any kind of coherent fashion. The kids will read a story about butterflies and then one about bicycles and one about Martin Luther King, Jr. None of this is objectionable, but it is not providing them the real intellectual nutrition children need and crave—a carefully chosen course of reading in science and history that will allow them to understand those stories about butterflies and Martin Luther King, Jr.
The reading blocks kids have been sentenced to are not devoted solely to reading. They often spend an inordinate amount of time on “reading strategies,” which give me a headache just thinking about them—predicting, summarizing, outlining, making text-to-text connections, identifying the “purpose” of reading a particular work—the list goes on and on. Not that there’s anything wrong with any of them, but a little of them goes a long way. The countless hours that are being spent on reading strategies would be much better spent on building the store of background knowledge children need to be able to comprehend sophisticated text, including textbooks, newspapers, magazines, and all the things educated citizens are expected to be able to read.
Watch or listen to a recent Madison speech by Karin Chenoweth.