I was honored to be part of the Madison School District’s “Strategic Planning Process” this weekend. More than 60 community members, students, parents, board members and district employees participated.
The process, which included meetings Thursday (1/29/2009) from 8 to 6 Friday (1/30/2009) from 8 to 5 and Saturday (1/31/2009) from 8 to 12, thus far, resulted in the following words:
MMSD Mission Statement (1/30/2009):
Our mission is to cultivate the potential in every student to thrive as a global citizen by inspiring a love of learning and civic engagement, by challenging and supporting every student to achieve academic excellence, and by embracing the full richness and diversity of our community.
Draft Strategic Priorities
We will eliminate the achievement gap by ensuring that all students reach their highest potential. To do this, we will prepare every student for kindergarten, create meaningful student-adult relationships, and provide student-centered programs and supports that lead to prepared graduates. (see also student outcomes)
We will rigorously evaluate programs, services and personnel through a collaborative, data-driven process to prioritize and allocate resources effectively and equitably, and vigorously pursue the resources necessary to achieve our mission.
We will implement a formal system to support and inspire continuous development of effective teaching and leadership skills of all staff who serve to engage our diverse student body while furthering development of programs that target the recruitment and retent ion of staff members who reflect the cultural composition of our student body.
We will revolutionize the educational model to engage and support all students in a comprehensive participatory educational experience defined by rigorous, culturally relevant and accelerated learning opportunities where authentic assessment is paired with flexible instruction.
We will proudly leverage our rich diversity as our greatest strength and provide a learning environment in which all our children experience what we want for each of our children. We will:
- Provide a safe, welcoming learn ing environment
- Coordinate and cooperate across the district
- Build and sustain meaningful partnerships throughout our community
- Invite and incorporate (require) inclusive decision-making
- Remain accountable to all stakeholders
- Engage community in dialogue around diversity confront fears and misunderstandings
Pat Kossan; The Arizona Republic 7:25 am | 55°:
Half of Maricopa County’s high-school graduates who enter Arizona universities or colleges must take a remedial math class. And just under a quarter must take a remedial English class.
The new findings are helping legislators push for a change in how Arizona decides if its high schools are excelling or failing, a move that would topple AIMS test scores as the main measurement.
Two key House leaders are proposing a pilot program that could lead to making the percentage of students who graduate “college-ready” the prime indicator of how well a high school performs.
Rating schools by AIMS scores sets the bar too low because the state’s standardized student tests are based on 10th-grade skills, said Reps. Rich Crandall, a Mesa Republican, and David Lujan, a Phoenix Democrat.
Some educators fear that the new approach would put too much emphasis on college-bound students and not enough on marginal students who need extra help or students who don’t want to attend college.
The findings come from an Arizona Community Foundation study released this week that aimed to measure how well high schools prepared their college-bound students.
The College Readiness Report calculated how many 2006 high-school graduates could directly enter freshman-level English and algebra classes and how many had to take remedial classes first.
Continue reading New way urged for gauging schools
Lawmakers: Measure using college-readiness
Lori Weiss via a kind reader’s email:
Wauwatosa School District officials have found a home for the trade charter school that will be opening for the 2009-10 school year.
For the first year, the School of the Trades will be housed in the basement of the Fisher Building, 12121 W. North Ave.
Superintendent Phil Ertl said the district is looking at the location for one year as it evaluates the viability and efficiency of the building.
It was determined that the Fisher Building would be the best place to house the district’s second trade charter school because it doesn’t need major renovations.
“It’s all there right now,” Jason Zurawik, West associate principal who has been working with the trade charter school committee, told the School Board on Jan. 26.
Several parents from Jefferson Middle School have been meeting with Dr. Nerad and administrators to discuss the evolution of the standards based report cards in Middle School.
After much research on my part, it is clear standard based report cards are the “new” thing and a result of NCLB. It is easily adaptable at the elementary school, but very FEW school districts have implemented these changes in the middle school and in the high school it is almost nonexistent due to the difficulty adapting them for college entrance. It seems the goal of standard based report cards from the NCLB legistation is to make sure teachers teach the standards. It is kind of backwards that way but many teachers feel it makes sure they cover all the required standards.
Our local concerns and response from district include:
- Infinite Campus, which was up and running last year is no longer functioning for middle school students.
Their response: Yes there are problems and we have provided training but the staff have not taking us up on the paid training made available.
My response: If you are going to implement a change, since when is it optional to learn a new system the district is implementing. My daughter has no grades, assignments, or anything on IC accept the final grade. When asked if this will be mandatory in the future I was told we have no idea and we can’t promise that it will be. It is clear after two meetings and several discussion with Lisa Wachtel that IC will not accommodate standards based grading. Basically elementary students will never be up. She projected 5 years and the middle school while up it is not easy to use the grade book for a program designed for 100% grading. I am only left to believe 2/3 of MMSD students will not benefit from a potentially good way for parents to stay informed about their students progress, grades, test, assignments, etc…..
- While some areas are better (Language Arts, Spanish, PE) evaluation includes written, oral,as well as comprehension for the languages, and for PE it includes evaluation for knowledge, skill, and effort.
In Math my child made a 4 on Content 1, 2 on Content 2, 1 on Content 3, and a 3 on Content 4. She received a cummulitative grade of D. When I add 4 + 3 + 2 + 1 and divide by 4 it equals 2.5 which is not a D. After much research I found out each area is weighted different which is not explained on the report card. I also asked and it required much investigation to find out what each content area (1,2,3,4) was evaluating. She clearly understands one of them and has poor understanding in the one weighed higher but I had no idea what they were as they were only labelled by a number.
Administration response: Math is a problem we are working on.
I accept with many reservations that we are doing standards based reporting for middle school students. I am angry that the district picked Infinite Campus at about the same time they were discussing going to Standards Based Report cards and did not realize 2/3 of the students will not benefit from IC. I am also upset that a pilot of the middle school report card was not conducted with staff, parents and student input. At Jefferson the staff feel under trained, overwhelmed and as though this was pushed down their throats. It says to me the staff were not consulted. When the staff person that was in charge of training the rest of the staff at Jefferson is not even using the I.C. it says a lot about the implementation of the middle school reporting. As far as standards based report cards moving to high school for MMSD, this would be very difficult. Not just due to college entrance but because MMSD high schools do not have standards to base the report cards upon.
HR1 on 28 January 2009: 244 (all Democrats) -188 (11 Democrats and 177 Republicans).
Much more on the splurge here.
‘ve lost count of how many trillions of bailout money have been laid out (fortunately for all of us, Bloomberg keeps track: $8.5 trillion and counting). Layoffs are being announced in the tens of thousands in a single day. The housing market continues to collapse, as does the banking industry. We have a new administration, which has created a huge appetite for any shred of news from the White House. Those two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan still drone on. The news industry is collapsing. And Oklahoma is 20-1 in basketball (Beg pardon on this last one.)
But today, the heavy guns are out for the approaching-trillion-dollar stimulus package Obama is pushing through Congress. And it’s an impressive performance.
First, The New York Times has a double-barreled effort with its lead stories on page one today, one about the unprecedented education spending in the bill and the other on the massive health-care expenditures it contains.
The Times is excellent on both counts. On education, it reports that fully $150 billion of the stimulus package is allocated for learnin’. It puts the numbers in great context:
…a vast two-year investment that would more than double the Department of Education’s current budget…
…would amount to the largest increase in federal aid since Washington began to spend significantly on education after World War II…
…New York would be among the biggest beneficiaries, at $760 per student, while New Jersey and Connecticut would fall near the bottom, with $427 and $409 per student, respectively. The District of Columbia would get the most per student, $1,289, according to the foundation’s analysis…
And it clearly explains the potential ramifications of implementing such an enormous plan:
Critics and supporters alike said that by its sheer scope, the measure could profoundly change the federal government’s role in education, which has traditionally been the responsibility of state and local government…
The bill would, for the first time, involve the federal government in a significant fashion in the building and renovation of schools, which has been the responsibility of states and districts…
Much more on the stimulus/splurge here.
1.2MB PDF File. This document includes responses from Madison School Board seat 1 candidates Arlene Silveira and Donald Gors, Seat 2 candidate Lucy Mathiak and a number of other local and statewide candidates for office in the upcoming April, 2009 election. Via a kind reader’s email.
But there is controversy with 4K, and not just because of the cost. In other districts that have started programs, operators of private centers that stand to lose tuition dollars have emerged as opponents.
That’s unlikely to be true for Renee Zaman, director of Orchard Ridge Nursery School on Madison’s west side, who said last week that her center would be in a good position to participate with a 4K program because they already teach 84 4-year-olds and because all of their early childhood teachers are state certified.
But Zaman also said she hopes that the district doesn’t push a 4K program through too quickly. She is particularly worried that the curriculum might focus too heavily on academics.
One sticking point in past 4K discussions in Madison was concern from the teachers union, Madison Teachers Inc., that preschool teachers at off-site programming centers might not be employees of the school district.
But Nerad and MTI Executive Director John Matthews have had many discussions about 4K over the past several months, and Matthews said as long as no district teachers are displaced, he is in favor of the program.
Related: Marc Eisen on “Missed Opportunities for 4K and High School Redesign”.
Via a kind reader’s email: The Wall Street Journal:
“Never let a serious crisis go to waste. What I mean by that is it’s an opportunity to do things you couldn’t do before.”
So said White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in November, and Democrats in Congress are certainly taking his advice to heart.
And don’t forget education, which would get $66 billion more. That’s more than the entire Education Department spent a mere 10 years ago and is on top of the doubling under President Bush. Some $6 billion of this will subsidize university building projects. If you think the intention here is to help kids learn, the House declares on page 257 that “No recipient . . . shall use such funds to provide financial assistance to students to attend private elementary or secondary schools.” Horrors: Some money might go to nonunion teachers.”
The US debate over the fiscal stimulus is remarkable in its neglect of the medium term – that is, the budgetary challenges over a period of five to 10 years. Neither the White House nor Congress has offered the public a scenario of how the proposed mega-deficits will affect the budget and government programmes beyond the next 12 to 24 months. Without a sound medium-term fiscal framework, the stimulus package can easily do more harm than good, since the prospect of trillion-dollar-plus deficits as far as the eye can see will weigh heavily on the confidence of consumers and businesses, and thereby undermine even the short-term benefits of the stimulus package.
We are told that we have to rush without thinking lest the entire economy collapse. This is belied by recent events. The spring 2008 stimulus package of $100bn (€76bn, £71bn) in tax rebates was rushed into effect in a similar way and we now know it had little stimulus effect. The rebates were largely saved or used to pay down credit card debt, rather than spent. The $700bn troubled asset relief programme bail-out was also rushed into effect and its results have been notoriously poor.
The Tarp has not revived the banks or their lending, but it has supported a massive transfer of taxpayer wealth to the management and owners of well-connected financial institutions. Some of those transfers – as in the case of Merrill Lynch using its government-financed sale to Bank of America to enable $4bn in bonuses last month – are beyond egregious. Yet the US is now inured to corruption and in such a rush that even billions of dollars of public funds shovelled into Merrill’s private pockets in broad daylight barely merited a day’s news cycle.
More from Victor Davis Hanson and Greg Mankiw on the Congressional Budget Office:
So only 8 percent of this spending occurs in budget year 2009, and only 41 percent occurs in first two years. Note that spending on transfer payments and tax relief occurs much faster than this: click through to the above link for details.
Mario Rizzo quotes Keynes:
“Organized public works, at home and abroad, may be the right cure for a chronic tendency to a deficiency of effective demand. But they are not capable of sufficiently rapid organisation (and above all cannot be reversed or undone at a later date), to be the most serviceable instrument for the prevention of the trade cycle.”
Finally, a look at the origins of the Madison School District’s $18M slice of the splurge. Long time Wisconsin Congressman David Obey is chair of the House Appropriations Committee, a position that gives him a prime seat for earmarks.
Finally, Nanette Asimove notes the proposed borrowing and printing money for California.
I’m writing about the Democrats’ intra-party squabbles on schools, the kind that exploded during the campaign and grew more vociferous in the election’s aftermath but quieted down somewhat with President Obama’s appointment of (consensus candidate) Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education. Well, they’ve returned. Word is that Senate Democrats have stripped virtually all of the reform-friendly provisions out of the House stimulus bill (a bill that was not terribly reform-friendly to begin with ). The Teacher Incentive Fund (which supports merit pay programs): gone. Charter school facilities dollars: gone. Money for data infrastructure projects: gone. Language ensuring that charter schools have equitable access to the money: gone. The teachers unions firmly in control of the Democratic Party: back with a vengeance.
Related: Carl Hulse talks with the Splurge’s author: 40 year congressional veteran David Obey (D-Wisconsin):
Indeed, it was Mr. Obey, the third-most-senior member of the House, who, in large measure, shaped the bill, in concert with other House Democratic leaders. And though Mr. Obama has embraced the bill, not a single House Republican has lent it support. The president himself is scheduled to visit Capitol Hill on Tuesday to try to address Republican concerns that Mr. Obey and others are using the legislation to push vast amounts of money into health care and other favored initiatives.
Mr. Obey’s impatience, temper and occasionally cutting tone are well known. Even as he outlined the economic plan before Mr. Obama’s inauguration, he flippantly referred to the new president as “the crown prince.” The remark was evidence that Mr. Obey, like other veteran chairmen involved in writing the stimulus package, might not be entirely deferential to the new president until he proved he could exert his influence.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California placed Mr. Obey in charge of producing the economic measure and shares his view that the spending for health, nutrition and unemployment programs is justified and a quicker way than tax breaks to pump money into the economy. Ms. Pelosi is very loyal to the chairman, who was a top ally in her 2001 race for Democratic whip.
Putting the economic bill together turned out to be challenging. Mr. Obey and a contingent of Democratic staff members worked over the holidays, meeting with other lawmakers. They were in talks with Rahm Emanuel, who was soon to be the White House chief of staff, and Rob Nabors, a former staff director of the Appropriations Committee who had left to join the Obama team as a budget official.
For some House Democrats, the problem is less a matter of balancing the short and long term than a shortage of focus and will on the part of the administration. Their disappointment centers on the relatively small amount devoted to long-lasting infrastructure investments in favor of spending on a long list of government programs. While each serves a purpose, the critics say, they add up to less than the sum of their parts, and fall far short of the transformative New Deal-like vision many of them had entertained.
The bill to be voted on today includes $30 billion for roads and bridges, $9 billion for public transit and $1 billion for inter-city rail — less than 5 percent of the package’s total spending. Administration officials have said they did not push for more infrastructure spending because of concerns about how many projects are “shovel ready” — a view that House members say is held most strongly by Lawrence H. Summers, Obama’s chief economic adviser.
Jordan Rau & Evan Halper:
Although lawmakers continue to argue over how to resolve the state’s fiscal crisis, they already have endorsed $6 billion in spending cuts that provide a painful preview of what is likely to be in store for Californians.
The proposed cuts would mean that money for the state’s university systems would decrease. Transportation and schools would take a hit. Funds for regional centers that help treat developmental disabilities in babies and toddlers would decline. Cash to help the elderly, blind and disabled keep up with rising food costs would be slashed.
None of these cuts has been enacted. But the fact that they were included in the fiscal plan that Democrats passed last month — and have been separately backed by Republicans — ensures that they will be at the top of the list when lawmakers finally decide how to bridge a budget gap projected to exceed $40 billion within a year and a half.
Libby Quaid & Justin Pope:
Democrats want to use the big spending package designed to jump-start the staggering economy to send billions to long-term programs to help poor and disabled school children.
President Barack Obama’s recovery plan amounts to the biggest increase ever in federal money for schools. Many Republicans say it is not a short-term boost but an immense expansion that will be impossible to roll back.
“What will happen two years from now when the Democrat spending spree comes to an end?” asked California Rep. Buck McKeon, top Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee.
“It’ll never go away,” said Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, a Republican on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. “You’re talking about a permanent increase at a time when we are in the worst financial shape we’ve ever been in.”
The measure making its way through Congress would achieve a long-sought goal of Obama and other Democrats. For the first time, it would fully fund No Child Left Behind, former President George W. Bush’s education program. Democrats complain Bush never provided enough money for the kindergarten-through-12th grade program.
Not a coincidence, critics said.
Related: Democrats dispute the Congressional Budget Office’s report on the stimulus/splurge.
Joe Kimball, via a kind reader’s email:
Some details emerged today from the proposal by Gov. Tim Pawlenty and several lawmakers for what they call a bipartisan effort to require Minnesota school districts and charter schools to combine efforts to reduce costs.
Under their Minnesota K-12 Shared Service proposal, school districts and charter schools will be able to pool their purchasing power for information technology, food services, supplies and equipment, operations, transportation and other goods and services. All Minnesota public school districts and charter schools will be required to participate in shared services.
The proposal calls for the Minnesota Department of Education to create and maintain a list of preferred vendors for various shared services. Once the list was compiled, the ed department would create contracts with the preferred vendors on behalf of the state and work with school administrators, educators and other stakeholders on a two-year shared-services plan to best realize cost savings.
he bill would require (note the “require” part) all public K-12 and charter schools to purchase services in the following areas from a list of approved vendors: all school materials, supplies, tools, and equipment for school facilities operations and maintenance; technology equipment and communication services; food services; and transportation services. MDE would be responsible for approving the vendors and maintaining the list. The bill would be effective July 1, 2009. A consultant would be hired for the first two years to help the department implement the program. The consultant would be paid on a percentage of realized savings not to exceed 5%. The consultant’s fee would be paid from the savings realized by individual school districts, so each district would have to calculate how much their participation in the shared services program had saved them. MDE would reduce their state funding by a certain amount to recover the funds to pay the consultant. Each district’s savings would be required to be allocated to “classroom education.”
The senators quickly moved to the heart of the matter, and Sen. Bonoff introduced a Mr. Dahl from Deloitte, the accounting firm. Apparently Deloitte had done some work on shared services in schools in Pennsylvania. He shared a PowerPoint with the committee describing the benefits and anticipated savings. He estimated a potential savings for MN schools of $1M/week. The questions starting coming right after he was done.
Sen. Hann (R-Eden Prairie) wondered how the new bureaucracy would not consume all of the potential savings. Dahl recognized the work of the OET and existing service coops and said that their work would be made more effective.
Sen. Hann asked if it was possible that some schools in the state would see an increase in their costs because they had already negotiated very favorable contracts. Dahl said possible, but not likely.
Sen. Hann asked what constitutes “classroom use” for the allocation of savings. Sen. Bonoff said that the intent of the legislation is to be “loose” with the classroom use restriction.
Sen. Saltzman (DFL-Woodbury) asked if the bill would have curriculum implications for textbooks, etc. Bonoff said no.
Joyce Roche CEO of Girls, Inc.:
I WAS born in Iberville, La. My mom moved to New Orleans after my dad died in an accident. I have seven sisters and three brothers; all but one brother are still living. At the time we moved, I was the baby of the family. My mom had two other children after she remarried.
When I was growing up, segregation was real. When we rode the bus, there was something we called the screen. African-Americans, or Negroes as we were called then, were expected to sit behind a piece of wood. Since where we lived had movie theaters and grocery stores, it was only when we traveled to Canal Street to department stores that segregation was most noticeable.
One of my older sisters moved in with my Aunt Rose, my mother’s sister, who was married but had no children of her own. Soon I lived there almost permanently, too. She made sure I was doing well in everything at school. As a black female, I expected to be a nurse, a teacher or a social worker. I had an English teacher in high school who made me feel like an A student, even though I was a strong B student. She became the person I could see myself being.
Girls Inc website.
Mike S. Adams, Townhall.com 26 January 2009:
Good afternoon students! I’m writing you this email to announce that I’m making some changes in the grading policies I announced two weeks ago when I sent an email with an attached course syllabus. As you know, we now have a new president and I thought it would be nice to align our class policies with some of the policies he will be implementing over the next four years. These will be changes you can believe in and, I hope, changes that will inspire hope, which is our most important American value.
Previously, I announced that I would use a ten-point grading scale, which means that 90% of 100 is an “A,” 80% is a “B,” 70% is a “C,” and 60% is enough for a passing grade of “D.” I also announced that I will refrain from using a “plus/minus” system – even though the faculty handbook gives me that option.
The new policy I am announcing today is that those who score above 90 on the first exam will have points deducted and given to students at the bottom of the grade distribution. For example, if a student gets a 99, I will then deduct nine points and give them to the person with the lowest grade. If a person scores 95 I will then deduct five points and give them to the person with the second lowest grade. If someone scores 93 I will then deduct three points and give them to the next lowest person. And so on.
My point, rather obviously, is that any points above 90 are really not needed since you have an “A” regardless of whether you score 90 or 99. Nor am I convinced that you need to “save” those points for a rainy day. Those who are failing, however, need the points–not unlike the failing banks and automakers that need money to avoid the danger of bankruptcy.
After our second examination, I intend to take a more complex approach to the practice of grade redistribution. I will not be looking at your second test scores but, instead, at the average of your first two test scores. In the process, I may well decide to start taking some points from students in the “B” range. For example, if someone has an average of 85 after two tests I may take a few points and give them away to someone who is failing or who is in danger of failing. I think this is fair because the person with an 85 average is probably unlikely to climb up to an “A” or fall down to a “C.” I may be wrong in some individual cases but, of course, my principal concern is not the individual.
Continue reading Give All You Can: My New “Spread the Wealth” Grading Policy
Tuesday March 10, 2009 6 to 8p.m.
Memorial High School – Wisconsin Neighborhood Center [Map]
Thursday March 12, 2009 6 to 8p.m.
LaFollette High School in the LMC [Map]
The Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) will be sharing the recommendations of the Fine Arts Task Force. We are cordially inviting you to attend one or both of these sessions.
The focus of each session will be a presentation of the findings and recommendations of the Fine Arts Task Force followed by an opportunity for discussion. The Executive Summary and complete Fine Arts Task Force Report can be found at http://www.mmsd.org/boe/finearts/.
We are looking forward to sharing this information with you and hearing your thoughts about the research and recommendations provided by the Fine Arts Task Force.
Feedback from sessions and the recommendations from the Fine Arts Task Force will assist in improving the MMSD K-12 Fine Arts program and opportunities for our students,
If you have any questions or comments, please contact Julie Palkowski at firstname.lastname@example.org
Executive Director of Teaching and Learning
Coordinator of Fine Arts
Please share this information with others that may be interested in attending these sessions and/or sharing their comments.
In the letter, Mr. Gates goes out of his way to acknowledge setbacks. For example, the Gates Foundation made a major push for smaller high schools in the United States, often helping to pay for the creation of small schools within larger buildings.
“Many of the small schools that we invested in did not improve students’ achievement in any significant way,” he acknowledges. Small schools succeeded when the principal was able to change teachers, curriculum and culture, but smaller size by itself proved disappointing. “In most cases,” he says, “we fell short.”
Mr. Gates comes across as a strong education reformer, focusing on supporting charter schools and improving teacher quality. He suggested that when he has nailed down the evidence more firmly, he will wade into the education debates.
“It is amazing how big a difference a great teacher makes versus an ineffective one,” Mr. Gates writes in his letter. “Research shows that there is only half as much variation in student achievement between schools as there is among classrooms in the same school. If you want your child to get the best education possible, it is actually more important to get him assigned to a great teacher than to a great school.”
I could not agree more. Rather than add coaches and layers of support staff, I’d prefer simply hiring the best teachers (and paying them) and getting out of the way. Of course, this means that not all teachers (like the population) are perfect, or above average!
Much more on Small Learning Communities here.
On Toledo’s SLC initiative.
Click for a larger version of this very simple illustration
The House version of a federal economic stimulus bill would deliver more than $4.3 billion to Wisconsin over the next two years, under details of the bill released Friday.
That figure includes nearly $18 million for Madison schools and millions more for other local districts.
“I’m very pleased by this. We know this is a difficult time, but at the same time there are needs that our children have that can’t go unmet,” said Dan Nerad, Madison schools superintendent. “I’m very hopeful. I’m very optimistic and we’ll see what comes.”
Under bill descriptions released by Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, and an analysis of Medicaid by a Washington, D.C. think tank, the House version would also provide:
$1.2 billion to help the state fill its $5.4 billion budget hole, with at least 61 percent being spent on schools and colleges.
Total taxes collected from Wisconsin averaged $12,281 per person in 2007-08. The $69.4 billion in annual collections was up 3.4%. Relative to personal income, however, taxes were down slightly, from 34.9% in 2007 to 34.2% in 2008.
- United States Government outstanding debt ($32,795 per citizen).
- US Population
- Major foreign holders of US Treasuries.
- The Congressional Research Service produced the school funding information.
- “Be Nice to the Countries That Lend You Money”. An interview with Gao Xiqing, a man who oversees many of China’s US holdings, by James Fallows (more from Fallows). Related:
- Peter Peterson Foundation:
To increase public awareness of the nature and urgency of key economic challenges threatening America’s future and accelerate action on them. To meet these challenges successfully, we work to bring Americans together to find sensible, sustainable solutions that transcend age, party lines and ideological divides in order to achieve real results.
- Related with respect to printing money: Zimbabwe’s central banker defends policies:
Your critics blame your monetary policies for Zimbabwe’s economic problems. I’ve been condemned by traditional economists who said that printing money is responsible for inflation. Out of the necessity to exist, to ensure my people survive, I had to find myself printing money. I found myself doing extraordinary things that aren’t in the textbooks. Then the IMF asked the U.S. to please print money. I began to see the whole world now in a mode of practicing what they have been saying I should not. I decided that God had been on my side and had come to vindicate me.
- Clusty Search: Lobbyist
It will be interesting to see how this money, assuming it is authorized and borrowed, is spent. Will it be spent in a way that grows the District’s operating costs and therefore increases the local property tax burden once the stimulus/splurge is exhausted?
If we must borrow these funds from our grandchildren, then I would like to see it spent in a way that has long term benefits. Superintendent Nerad spoke of children whose needs are going unmet; well, those kids will be paying for these borrowed funds.
Finally, it appears that someone is spreading the love, as it were. The Congressional Research Service (whose work is not publicly available) wrote a report on stimulus/splurge funding for all US school districts. Have a look at all of the Google News references. Defense programs are known for spreading jobs around key congressional districts as a means of self preservation.
Bear Market for Charities
Wall Street Journal
NEW YORK — Geoffrey Canada has spent decades building a strategy for saving poor children from crime-ridden streets and crumbling public schools.
His “Harlem Children’s Zone” now serves thousands of kids, some of whom are showing impressive test scores. He has attracted the attention of the new White House because of his charity’s model: Instead of tackling problems here and there, the program envelops an entire neighborhood, with services ranging from parenting classes to health clinics to charter schools.
But Wall Street’s meltdown and money manager Bernard Madoff’s alleged financial fraud threaten the donor base that bankrolls Mr. Canada’s work. Facing declining revenues, he’s had to lay off staff and cancel plans to expand. He says he doesn’t yet “have a Plan B” for replacing his Wall Street support, which had reached upwards of $15 million annually.
Mr. Canada’s difficulties show how dependent nonprofits can become on certain steady donors, and how their plans can be derailed when those revenues dry up. It underscores the challenges facing nonprofits, which grew and proliferated amid the bull-market earlier this decade.
Today, the U.S. boasts more than one million nonprofits, up from about 774,000 ten years ago. Their biggest donations come from corporations, foundations and the ultra-wealthy. Many have been hit hard by the deepening recession. A drop in charitable contributions could shutter as many as 100,000 nonprofits over the next year, says Paul Light, a professor at New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service.
Mr. Canada, a 57-year-old social worker, calls his strategy the “conveyor belt,” because it aims to give children an intensive experience in a succession of programs until they graduate from college. Children in pre-kindergarten are taught foreign languages, for instance. From there, children enter Mr. Canada’s charter schools with longer school days and a calendar lasting until the first week of August.
The approach is starting to deliver results. Last year, nearly all the third-graders in Mr. Canada’s charter schools scored at or above grade-level in math, better than recent citywide averages. Eighth-graders outperformed the average New York student in math, according to New York state data.
“The math thing is just so far above anything I’ve ever seen,” says Roland Fryer, a Harvard economist who heads a new education lab. “The real hard work is to figure out why it’s working and whether that kind of thing can be exported so we can help more kids.”
President Barack Obama’s advisers met with Mr. Canada recently to learn more about his approach. Mr. Obama said during the campaign that he wants to create “promise neighborhoods” modeled on Mr. Canada’s charity in 20 cities across the U.S. Today, that initiative remains part of the White House’s publicized agenda.
Read more …
Breaks my heart to post this.
Investors Business Daily:
The argument over what to do about America’s struggling schools is still raging. Programs such as No Child Left Behind have achieved some success by introducing a measure of accountability into the process. But American students continue to get clobbered on international tests by other countries whose school systems spend less money per student and have larger average class sizes.
Facing budget realities in a down economy, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recently proposed shortening the school year by five days to contribute $1.1 billion in savings toward the state’s $42 billion budget shortfall.
State school superintendent Jack O’Donnell vehemently disagreed, saying a longer school year was needed to prepare students for “the competitive global economy.”
The operative word here is “competitive.” Success in the marketplace depends on being able to produce the best product at the lowest cost. Competition in the business world produces a better product at less cost. Why shouldn’t it be so in education? Well, it is.
According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, 70% of the countries that outperformed the U.S. in combined math and science literacy among 15-year-olds had more schools competing for students. Countries ranging from Japan to Latvia all had more education options than American students.
Teachers College @ Columbia University:
TC faculty member Jeffrey Henig was a guest on The Brian Lehrer Sho (WNYC) on January 15, where he discussed what we can expect from Arne Duncan as U.S. Secretary of Education.
Henig noted that as superintendent of the Chicago Public Schools, Duncan has kept the pressure on for reform inside the classroom, but has managed to do it without antagonizing teachers unions.
Portland Business Journal:
he Oregon Supreme Court has largely rejected a suit demanding the Legislature substantially increase K-12 school funding.
In a ruling today, the state Supreme Court largely affirmed a lower court ruling in Pendleton School District v. State of Oregon, a much-watched suit brought on behalf of 18 school districts and seven students. The suit alleged the state is in violation of a 2000 voter-approved ballot measure that requires the Legislature to fund schools at “a level sufficient to meet certain quality educational goals established by law.”
The suit sought an injunction to direct the Legislature to appropriate the “necessary” funds.
Writing for the court, Chief Justice Paul DeMuniz agreed the Legislature has failed to fully fund public schools. However, he said the court concluded that Oregon voters did not intend for the courts to enforce funding requirements when they passed Ballot Measure 1 in 2000, a constitutional amendment that became Article VIII, section 8, of the state Constitution.
By PETER SCHMIDT
Three new studies of college freshmen suggest that even the most promising among them can run into academic difficulties as a long-term consequence of experiences like attending a violence-plagued high school or being raised by parents who never went to college.
And two of the studies call into question a large body of research on the educational benefits of racial and ethnic diversity on campuses, concluding that most first-year students do not reap any gains that can be measured objectively.
Taken together, the reports not only challenge many of the assumptions colleges make in admitting and educating freshmen, but could also influence discussions of how to improve the nation’s high schools to promote college preparation.
In one of the studies, Mark E. Engberg, an assistant professor of higher education at Loyola University Chicago, and Gregory C. Wolniak, a research scientist at the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, looked at how high-school experiences influenced the academic success of students at several highly selective colleges.
Using data on 2,500 students from the National Longitudinal Survey of Freshmen, the two researchers found that freshmen who entered college with comparable academic records and family backgrounds had levels of success that depended on their high-school environments. Those from schools with high levels of violence tended to have lower grades. Having attended a well-maintained and well-equipped school seemed to offer many freshmen advantages over their peers.
A study published in the University of Arkansas’s Education Working Paper Archive also considered high-school quality in analyzing the records of 2,800 students at an unnamed midsize, moderately selective public university.
Serge Herzog, the study’s author and director of institutional analysis at the University of Nevada at Reno, found that, even after controlling for differences in background and academic preparation, low-income freshmen tended to post lower grades if their high schools had high levels of violence or disorder. The same was true if the schools had enrollments that were heavily black or Hispanic, or had a high percentage of students with limited proficiency in English.
Mr. Herzog found little evidence of a link between the number of courses students took from part-time instructors and the likelihood of their dropping out. That finding runs counter to other recent research on adjuncts.
And, in a finding that contradicts much available research on racial and ethnic diversity in higher education, Mr. Herzog found no evidence that being exposed to diversity in their classrooms, or taking classes intended to promote appreciation of diversity, fostered students’ cognitive growth. He did, however, find that black, Hispanic, and American Indian students appeared to benefit, in terms of college completion, from frequent exposure to members of their own racial or ethnic group.
In the third study, two doctoral students in higher education at the University of Iowa, Ryan D. Padgett and Megan P. Johnson, examined data on about 3,100 students from 19 colleges, collected in the Wabash National Study of Liberal Arts Education. The Iowa researchers found that the educational benefits of taking part in various programs promoting diversity were “minimal and inconsistent.”
The researchers also concluded that students who were the first in their families to attend college did not necessarily benefit from educational practices shown to help students whose parents did attend college. For example, while students on the whole appeared to benefit from interactions with faculty members, first-generation students who experienced the most contact with faculty members generally had the worst educational outcomes. The findings, the researchers concluded, suggest that those students “have not been conditioned to the positive benefits of interacting with instructors.”
Volume 55, Issue 14, Page A21
Copyright © 2008 by The Chronicle of Higher Education
In many books, more articles, and perhaps 200 appearances a year, Alfie Kohn does what he can to spare United States students the evils of competition. While he can’t do much about athletic competition, or economic competition or the unfairness of love and war, he tries hard and successfully to persuade educators that making academic distinctions among students hurts them.
A story is told of an unpopular officer at the U.S Naval Academy who knew he was disliked (his nickname was “The Wedge” as “the simplest tool known to man”) and he was always on the lookout for ways to assert his dominance. Once he berated a formation of midshipman for being unsatisfactory by pointing out that while their toes were all lined up, their heels were as much as two or three inches out of line! The officer candidate in charge of the formation replied that he recognized the problem, and would try to see that all midshipmen in future could be issued the same size shoes!
Of course, Mr. Kohn would not, I believe, argue that having different size feet should be corrected to prevent some students from feeling inferior, but he does object to anything in school which might reveal that some are brighter and some more diligent than others. It is not clear how he thinks students can be prevented from noticing this for themselves, but he is insistent that testing and other forms of academic competition should not be allowed to reveal such differences.
Some people feel that in law, for instance, competition among arguments makes arriving at the facts of a case more likely. Competition among the producers of goods and services are thought by some to make improvements in quality and reduction in price more likely. It is even claimed that some works of art and literature are better than others, although serious efforts have of course been made to make such judgments less common.
Continue reading What’s It All About, Alfie?
Randy Furst & Sarah Lemagie:
The Minnesota ACLU has filed suit against TIZA, a charter school in Inver Grove Heights and Blaine, claiming it is promoting the Muslim religion.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota filed suit Wednesday against a publicly funded charter school alleging that it is promoting the Muslim religion and is leasing school space from a religious organization without following state law.
The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis against Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy, known as TIZA, and the Minnesota Department of Education, which the ACLU says is at fault for failing to uncover and stop the alleged transgressions. The suit names the department and Alice Seagren, the state education commissioner, as co-defendants.
Mark Liberman on “The Last Professor“:
Determined inutility is one thing — Prof. Fish is free to choose that path if he wants to — but determined ignorance of history is something else again.
It’s odd for a scholar to throw around phrases like “today’s educational landscape” as if contemporary economic and cultural forces were laying siege to institutions that were founded and managed as ivory towers committed to impractical scholarship. But the truth is that American higher education has always explicitly aimed to mix practical training with pure intellectual and moral formation, and to pursue research with practical consequences as well as understanding abstracted from applications.
Stanley Fish himself was an undergraduate at my own institution, the University of Pennsylvania, which was founded by Benjamin Franklin on this educational premise (“Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in Pensilvania”, 1749):
Political indoctrination in the guise of “Residence Life” programs took a pounding during a National Association of Scholars debate.
In last week’s Clarion Call, I wrote about the debate over academic freedom at the recent National Association of Scholars conference in Washington, D.C. But equally important was the contentious final session, devoted to the agenda of the “Residence Life” movement.
That movement is a nationwide initiative that has managers of student dorms teaching a leftist political catechism to students under their control in an effort to radicalize them.
The discussion focused on the infamous ResLife program at the University of Delaware. It took some interesting turns, including opposition to the programs from AAUP president Cary Nelson. He is a man of the left, but nevertheless doesn’t want to see curriculum and instruction handed over to people who aren’t even remotely scholars.
First to speak was Adam Kissel of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). He explained the objectives of the Residence Life movement generally and concentrated on the University of Delaware, where the program was first seen in all its authoritarian splendor: prying questions, indoctrination sessions, and special “treatment” for students who were either uncooperative or, worse, had the temerity to disagree. Kissel made it clear that the ResLife agenda consists of clumsy, authoritarian indoctrination of students meant to color their thinking toward leftist bromides about the environment, capitalism, institutional racism and so forth.
Continue reading Brave New Dorms
State budget director Dave Schmiedicke estimated that Wisconsin could be in line to receive $2.5 billion in federal stimulus money for education and medical assistance programs.
Schmiedicke also said that estimates show the state could receive $575 million for transportation and infrastructure projects.
Schmiedicke made the remarks at a Wisconsin Credit Union League meeting at the Monona Terrace this morning. He was joined at the forum by Rep. Mark Pocan, the co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee, and Todd Berry, president of the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance.
The estimates given by Schmiedicke were based on the $87 billion allocated for the Medicaid program and $79 billion for education in the proposal from the House of Representatives last week. Schmiedicke’s estimate is based on population and income figures, and he said the state will likely receive about 1.7 percent of the funding for those programs.
Much more on the stimulus/splurge here.
Eric Schwartzberg and Marie Rossiter:
Mason school officials said they are taking a proactive educational approach in advance of next week’s planned Inauguration Day activities.
“Inappropriate comments that may make other students, staff or families feel unwelcome or uncomfortable in school or on the bus will not be tolerated,” Superintendent Kevin Bright said in an e-mail sent to parents Monday, Jan. 12.
The district, he said, expects students and staff to show respect for President-elect Obama and the incoming administration, as well as President Bush and the outgoing administration, and recognize that “while the election is a competitive process, our nation’s greatness is displayed when all sides come together for a united country.”
Jeff Schlaeger, Mason High School’s psychologist, said “inappropriate comments” occurred around election week when doctored pictures of Obama appeared at the school, including “derogatory caricatures” of him dressed like a terrorist and signs that read “Obama ’08/Biden ’09.”
The USA’s public schools stand to be the biggest winners in Congress’ $825 billion economic stimulus plan unveiled last week. Schools are scheduled to receive nearly $142 billion over the next two years — more than health care, energy or infrastructure projects — and the stimulus could bring school advocates closer than ever to a long-sought dream: full funding of the No Child Left Behind law and other huge federal programs.
But tucked into the text of the proposal’s 328 pages are a few surprises: If they want the money — and they certainly do — schools must spend at least a portion of it on a few of education advocates’ long-sought dreams. In particular, they must develop:
- High-quality educational tests.
- Ways to recruit and retain top teachers in hard-to-staff schools.
- Longitudinal data systems that let schools track long-term progress.
The Wisconsin test: WKCE has been criticized for its low standards. More on the WKCE here.
Stephen Kreider Yoder & Isaac Yoder:
A couple days after I signed up for the SAT last year, I began to panic. Getting a good score was key to getting into a good college, I thought, yet I hadn’t even begun studying. Many of my schoolmates who had gotten good scores had regularly used pricey tutors, and my older brother used a tutor a couple of times to prepare for the ACT. So it seemed natural for me to do the same. And mandatory for me to get the score I needed.
I walked upstairs to where my dad was working and asked him how much he’d be willing to pay for an SAT class or tutor.
“I’ll pay as much as you think it’s worth,” he told me.
I went downstairs and looked over the information I had on the tutor I had picked out. I thought about it for a while and decided it just wasn’t worth it. The next day I checked out a book of SAT practice tests from my school at no cost and got to work.
I ended up doing great on it. I’m convinced that the SAT book I borrowed did just as much for me as any tutor would have. Sure, I had to motivate myself to practice — which wouldn’t be necessary with a regular tutor — but I don’t think I lost anything else by not paying for help.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand the benefits of a tutor. There have been plenty of times when I’ve fallen behind in class and getting a tutor would have helped me catch up. And having a regular tutor would have kept me more organized with things like searching for a college. A friend hired a counselor to help her narrow her list of potential colleges and to pick the perfect essay for her applications.
Paul Vitello & Winnie Hu:
It is a familiar drill in nearly all of the nation’s Roman Catholic school systems: a new alarm every few years over falling enrollment; church leaders huddling over what to do; parents rallying to save their schools. And then the bad news.
When the Diocese of Brooklyn last week proposed closing 14 more elementary schools, it was not the deepest but only the latest of a thousand cuts suffered, one tearful closing announcement at a time, as enrollment in the nation’s Catholic schools has steadily dropped by more than half from its peak of five million 40 years ago.
But recently, after years of what frustrated parents describe as inertia in the church hierarchy, a sense of urgency seems to be gripping many Catholics who suddenly see in the shrinking enrollment a once unimaginable prospect: a country without Catholic schools.
From the ranks of national church leaders to the faithful in the pews, there are dozens of local efforts to forge a new future for parochial education by rescuing the remaining schools or, if need be, reinventing them. The efforts are all being driven, in one way or another, by a question in a University of Notre Dame task force report in 2006: “Will it be said of our generation that we presided over the demise” of Catholic schools?
nternet Safety Technical Task Force to the Multi-State Working Group on Social Networking of State Attorneys General of the United States:
The Internet Safety Technical Task Force was created in February 2008 in accordance with the Joint Statement on Key Principles of Social Networking Safety announced in January 2008 by the Attorneys General Multi-State Working Group on Social Networking and MySpace. The scope of the Task Force’s inquiry was to consider those technologies that industry and end users – including parents – can use to help keep minors safer on the Internet.
Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers
New York: Little, Brown, 2008, pp. 247-249:
Every four years, an international group of educators administers a comprehensive mathematics and science test to elementary and junior high students around the world. It’s the TIMSS (the same test you read about earlier, in the discussion of fourth graders born near the beginning of a school cutoff date and those born near the end of the date), and the point of the TIMSS is to compare the educational achievement of one country with another’s.
When students sit down to take the TIMSS exam, they also have to fill out a questionnaire. It asks them all kinds of things, such as what their parents’ level of education is, and what their views about math are, and what their friends are like. It’s not a trivial exercise. It’s about 120 questions long. In fact, it’s so tedious and demanding that many students leave as many as ten or twenty questions blank.
Now, here’s the interesting part. As it turns out, the average number of items answered on that questionnaire varies from country to country. It is possible, in fact, to rank all the participating countries according to how many items their students answer on the questionnaire. Now, what do you think happens if you compare the questionnaire rankings with the math ranking on the TIMSS? They are exactly the same. In other words, countries whose students are willing to concentrate and sit still long enough and focus on answering every single question in an endless questionnaire are the same countries whose students do the best job of solving math problems.
The person who discovered this fact is an educational researcher at the University of Pennsylvania named Erling Boe, and he stumbled across it by accident. “It came out of the blue,” he says. Boe hasn’t even been able to publish his findings in a scientific journal, because, he says, it’s just a bit too weird. Remember, he’s not saying that the ability to finish the questionnaire and the ability to excel on the math test are related. He’s saying that they are the same: If you compare the two rankings, they are identical.
Think about this another way. Imagine that every year, there was a Math Olympics in some fabulous city in the world. And every country in the world sent its own team of one thousand eighth graders. Boe’s point is that we could predict precisely the order in which every country would finish in the Math Olympics without asking a single math question. All we would have to do is give them some task measuring how hard they were willing to work. In fact, we wouldn’t even have to give them a task. We should be able to predict which countries are best at math simply by looking at which national cultures place the highest emphasis on effort and hard work.
So, which places are at the top of both lists? The answer shouldn’t surprise you: Singapore, South Korea, China (Taiwan), Hong Kong, and Japan. What those five have in common, of course, is that they are all cultures shaped by the tradition of wet-rice agriculture and meaningful work. They are the kinds of places where, for hundreds of years, penniless peasants, slaving away in the rice paddies three thousand hours a year, said things to one another like “No man who can rise before dawn three hundred sixty days a year fails to make his family rich.” *
* note: There is actually a significant scientific literature measuring Asian “persistence.” In a typical study, Priscilla Blinco gave large groups of Japanese and American first graders a very difficult puzzle and measured how long they worked at it before they gave up. The American children lasted, on average, 9.47 minutes The Japanese children lasted 13.93 minutes, roughly 40 percent longer.
The Delta Project on Postsecondary Education Costs, Productivity, and Accountability [3MB PDF Report]
Our country’s system of higher education — long extolled as the best in the world — is showing serious fault lines that threaten capacity to meet future needs for an educated citizenry. There are many causes for concern, but chief among them is a system of finance that will be hard to sustain in the current economic environment.
To be sure, higher education has gone through hard times before. But looking at the economic and political horizon in January of 2009, only the rosiest of optimists can believe that what lies ahead is going to be similar to what we have seen before. The shock waves from the international upheaval in credit markets are just now beginning to be felt — in greater demand for student aid, tightening loan availability, dips in endowment assets and earnings, rising costs of debt payments, and deep state budget cuts. Families are going to find it harder to find the resources to pay for the almost-automatic increases in student tuitions that have been the fuel for higher education in the past decade. Even with increases in tuition, most institutions will still face deficits that require deep spending cuts.
Individual state data (Wisconsin).
Most college students are carrying a greater share of the cost of their education, even as institutions spend less on teaching them, according to a report released today.
The report, published by the Delta Project on Postsecondary Education Costs, Productivity, and Accountability, gives a potentially troubling picture of spending and revenue trends in higher education. Spanning from 2002 to 2006, the report indicates that tuition hikes have resulted in little if any new spending on classroom instruction at public research universities.
“The public’s got it exactly right,” said Jane Wellman, head of the Delta Project. “They are jacking up tuition, and they’re not re-investing it in quality.”
There’s plenty of blame to go around, however, for this predicament. With state support waning for public colleges, rising tuition dollars are merely being used to make up for lost revenue — not for hiring more faculty or taking other steps that would arguably improve classroom instruction, the report asserts. On the other hand, the Delta Project suggests that colleges haven’t made the hard choices required for adapting to lower subsidies, as evidenced by relatively small changes in spending levels.
Mariel Wozniak, via email: The National Governor’s Association 4.5MB PDF Report:
Today, the National Governors Association (NGA) has released Arts & the Economy: Using Arts and Culture to Stimulate State Economic Development. This comprehensive report is a product of the long-standing partnership between the NEA and NGA, with extensive research support from the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA). At this moment, the report is enjoying front page status on the NGA website at www.nga.org . It’s not often that governors receive information from the NGA that gives such high priority to the arts as a policy solution to the issues they are facing. Arts & the Economy arrives on the desks of governors at what is obviously a critical decision-making period for all states. We’re confident you will find it is a valuable resource to share with your governor, legislators, constituents and advocates as you move through the budget process for FY 10.
This page discusses the importance of the arts and culture to states, and lists all the arts reports and issue briefs the NGA has produced with the NEA, with NASAA’s assistance.
Here is a quotation I placed in one of the meeting rooms in the Ruth Bachhuber-Doyle Adm. Building during my tenure at MMSD. It ought to be in every school:
“Our greatest scientists are generally skilled in non-verbal thinking yet we usually discourage science students from studying artistic subjects. Unless we reverse this trend, they will continue to be cut off from thought processes that lead to creative breakthroughs.”
Dr. Robert Root-Bernstein, Professor of Physiology at Michigan State University, formerly scientist with the Salk Institute.