The case against single-sex schooling

Rebecca Bigler and Lise Eliot:

Educators have spent several decades trying — and largely failing — to improve public schools. What if the solution were as easy as re-sorting students into their classrooms? Some supporters believe single-sex schooling is just such a magic bullet. But multiple lines of research show that single-sex schooling is both ineffective and detrimental to children’s development. This is why we support the American Civil Liberties Union’s new effort to investigate potentially unlawful single-sex programs in school districts across the country.
Throughout the United States, hundreds of public schools are segregating boys and girls as young as kindergarten age into single-sex classrooms based on highly distorted claims about differences in their brains and mental skills. What’s worse, such schools are ignoring important research showing that such segregation may actually be harmful to children.
Consider the new Franklin Academy for Boys in Tampa, a public middle school whose charter application states that “the typical teenage girl has a sense of hearing seven times more acute than a teenage boy,” and continues with this claim, “Stress enhances learning in males. The same stress impairs learning in females.”

Recall Day Rhetoric

A few links related to Wisconsin’s recall election:
#wirecall on Twitter
Madison Teachers, Inc Twitter Feed; Pro-Recall
Madison’s Isthmus
True School Activists Vote for Walker by “Penelope Trunk”, via a kind reader’s email.
TJ Mertz: Why Scott Walker doesn’t recall the QEO and how to help recall him
WisPolitics Elections Blog (WisPolitics is now owned by the Capital Times Company)
MacIver Institute
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel All Politics Blog.
Daily Kos
Talking Points Memo
Five Thirty Eight Blog..
National Review
WEAC Twitter Feed
AFSCME Twitter Feed

The Top 400 World Universities

London Times & Thomson Reuters:

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings were developed in concert with our rankings data provider, Thomson Reuters, with expert input from more than 50 leading figures in the sector from 15 countries across every continent. We believe we have created the gold standard in international university performance comparisons.
Our rankings of the top universities across the globe employ 13 separate performance indicators designed to capture the full range of university activities, from teaching to research to knowledge transfer. These 13 elements are brought together into five headline categories, which are:
Teaching — the learning environment (worth 30 per cent of the overall ranking score)
Research — volume, income and reputation (worth 30 per cent)
Citations — research influence (worth 30 per cent)
Industry income — innovation (worth 2.5 per cent)
International outlook — staff, students and research (worth 7.5 per cent).

Read the analysis, here.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison ranks 27th.
Related: Towards a Global Common Data Set for World University Rankers

Changing the Economics of Education

John Hennessy and Salman Khan:

Is there anything to be done about the rising price of higher education? That was the question posed to John Hennessy, president of Stanford University, and Salman Khan, founder of Khan Academy, a nonprofit online-learning organization. They sat down with The Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg to discuss how technology might be part of the solution.
Here are edited excerpts of their conversation.
Cost Curve
MR. MOSSBERG: Is it either moral or sustainable for elite colleges and universities to be charging what is approaching $60,000 a year to go to college?
MR. HENNESSY: I think the real question is whether or not what we’re charging is a worthwhile investment for the American public and for families. That’s the key question. The elites have the advantage in that they have been able to significantly subsidize what they charge with financial aid. It’s a really interesting business we’re in. First we charge less than it costs us to provide an education, because we subsidize everybody to some extent. And then if you can’t afford it, we give you a discount.
MR. MOSSBERG: You have a lot of money at Stanford. I’ve been, until recently, a trustee of Brandeis University. It’s a very good university. It charges about what you do. But it doesn’t have your money, and there are a lot of colleges like that.

The Expense of Teacher Union Contracts

Steve Gunn, Research by Victor Skinner:

The School District of Philadelphia is facing a $218 million budget deficit in fiscal 2013, with forecasts for a $1.1 billion shortfall by 2017.
The district’s School Reform Commission has responded with a controversial plan to close as many as 60 schools over the next five years and divert about 40 percent of the district’s students into public charter schools, according to media reports.
The plan has been met with a great deal of resistance from the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. Nobody knows at this point if the money-saving plan will be implemented, or how the district will find its way out of its deficit situation.
In the meantime, it’s clear that the school district is in the midst of a severe financial emergency, and must find a way to cut costs without negatively impacting students.
A good place to start would be the PFT’s collective bargaining agreement.
We recently inspected a copy of the agreement, then used a freedom of information request to measure the costs of various provisions in the contract for the 2010-11 school year.
We found numerous examples of huge costs that could have been postponed, trimmed or cancelled to save the district millions of dollars without affecting anyone’s base salary.
The list included $14.4 million to cover a three percent salary increase for teachers, a $66 million contribution to the union’s “Health and Welfare Fund” and $165 million for free- or low- cost employee health insurance.

Peterson, Howell and West: Teachers Unions Have a Popularity Problem

Paul Peterson, William Howell & Martin West:

However Wisconsin’s recall election turns out on Tuesday, teachers unions already appear to be losing a larger political fight–in public opinion. In our latest annual national survey, we found that the share of the public with a positive view of union impact on local schools has dropped by seven percentage points in the past year. Among teachers, the decline was an even more remarkable 16 points.
On behalf of Harvard’s Program on Education Policy and Governance and the journal Education Next, we have asked the following question since 2009: “Some people say that teacher unions are a stumbling block to school reform. Others say that unions fight for better schools and better teachers. What do you think? Do you think teacher unions have a generally positive effect on schools, or do you think they have a generally negative effect?”
Respondents can choose among five options: very positive, somewhat positive, neither positive nor negative, somewhat negative, and very negative.

Oregon’s new education chief: ‘Poor for now’ won’t be a problem for Rudy Crew

Susan Nielsen:

Rudy Crew’s mom died when he was 2. His dad had plenty of reasons to stay in bed in the morning, as Crew put it, but he got up every day and worked hard to raise his children right.
“My father,” Crew wrote in a 2007 book, “made sure I had a safe place to take risks, to learn independence, and eventually to believe that poor for now did not mean poor forever.”
Now Crew is Oregon’s first chief education officer, tapped by Gov. John Kitzhaber and formally hired last week to lead the state’s education enterprise from preschool to college. This core tenet of Crew’s belief system — that poor for now doesn’t mean poor forever — drove him to the top of the national heap of K-12 superintendents. It also makes him a bracing choice to help Oregon shake off the poverty mentality that drags down education in this state.

Cozy Board/Superintendent Relationship?

The Des Moines Register, via a kind reader’s email:

Beyond the personal side of this story, the emails raise questions about the school district’s management and the relationship between the superintendent and the school board.
For one, Sebring meddled far too much in a new Des Moines charter school that had been overseen by her twin sister, Nina Rasmusson. Scores of emails reveal Sebring was directly engaged in internal affairs of the school, and that Sebring sought to use her influence to shield her sister from criticism. Rasmusson resigned from the job on Sebring’s advice to avoid being fired because of problems in the charter school.
One email reveals Sebring’s attitude about her relationship with school board members: “We’re having a little trouble reigning (sic) in two of our new board members,” she wrote in a Feb. 10 email to Rasmusson. “They are well-intentioned but crossing the line.”
It’s easy to see how Sebring might have had the idea the board worked for her, not the other way around. Other emails suggest Sebring had a close personal relationship with at least one member of the board.
It appears she’d had them under her thumb for years. Members allowed Sebring to hire her sister, even though that clearly posed a conflict. They said nothing when she failed to promptly deliver a state accreditation report showing problems with the district.
And, to the end, board members seemed more concerned with protecting her than holding her accountable and being accountable to the public. They held a closed-door meeting to discuss her unexpected resignation May 10.
They knew Sebring had violated the district’s technology policy forbidding the use of school computers or email for personal correspondence and the exchange of sexually explicit messages. Yet they issued a release that misled the public by failing to disclose the full story about why she resigned early.
This school board thanked Sebring for her service and let her go on her way, protecting her to the very end.
This is the same school board the public now must rely on to find and supervise the next superintendent. Members should be taking responsibility for their mistakes. They should be learning from them and making changes in how they do business. A school board is the boss of a superintendent. It’s time for this board to finally figure that out.

Why is Qatar investing so much in education?

Sean Coughlan:

When oil rich countries get involved in global education projects, it is easy to be cynical and only expect some air-brushed philanthropy and gold-plated business school sponsorships.
But the Gulf state of Qatar is providing something more substantial.
So much so that it is becoming one of the most significant players in the field of education innovation, supporting a raft of projects from grassroots basic literacy through to high-end university research.
As well as trying to fast-forward its own education system, it is supporting projects in some of the toughest environments.

Recruiting More Black Teachers Should be a Madison School District Goal

The Wisconsin State Journal:

Howard, who supported Madison Prep, also favors launching pilots to test new approaches to helping struggling students.
“The assumption is that everything is working,” he said, “and it’s not.”
The district should boost efforts to involve more parents in their children’s educations, though that’s not easy.
At the same time, the district needs to pay for a backlog of school maintenance projects without balancing the district budget on the backs of struggling homeowners. Madison is already a high-spending district, so more and more money isn’t the solution.
The school administration’s plan has some merit but mostly stays the course. And more of the same won’t cut it.
The best path now is to recruit more black teachers, try even harder to engage parents, and seek innovation.

Related: Madison Schools Administration has “introduced more than 18 programs and initiatives for elementary teachers since 2009” and the Madison School District’s strategic plan update.

The Reforms I’m For

Charlie Mas:

We spend a lot of time talking about the reforms promoted by Education Reform Advocacy Organizations which we oppose. I also spend a lot of time correcting them when they say that those who oppose them are fighting for the status quo. So folks might wonder what reforms I actually support. It’s a fair question.
I absolutely believe that public K-12 education in Washington, and across the country, needs serious reform. It is build on a model that, in turn, is built on the faulty assumption that the students will fit a narrow mold. The system is set up to expect and serve students who come able and ready to learn in a traditional school setting. The whole thing needs to be reconfigured around a different, more accurate, set of beliefs around who the students are, what they need, and how public schools can deliver it.
The solutions presented by Education Reform Advocacy Organizations, such as LEV, are not serious reforms. They do not address the problem. Some of them, such as charter schools, create an opportunity to bypass the problem – an opportunity which, sadly, often goes unused. Some of them, such as merit pay for teachers, have nothing to do with the problem.

Big education issues won’t change with Wisconsin election results

Alan Borsuk:

In the closing moments of Thursday night’s debate between the two candidates for governor, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett raised a point that intrigues me. In fact, separate from all the other aspects of Tuesday’s historic recall election, I think it resonates across the debate about education in America:
Brass knuckles or handshakes?
Share a cup of coffee or send incendiary tweets?
What’s the best way to get things done amid differences?
Facing Scott Walker, the Republican governor who sat next to him at a round table at Marquette Law School, the Democratic challenger said, “You and I know that if you had accepted back in February of 2011 the offer from those employees to allow them to pay towards their health care and towards their pensions, we wouldn’t be sitting here tonight.”
Walker replied, “That’s just fundamentally wrong.” He said that even as public union leaders offered to accept cuts in benefits for their members, following Walker’s proposal to strip public unions of almost all their powers, local unions across the state were rushing to make contract deals that protected their benefits.
“Actions speak louder than words,” he said.

The questions we should ask when it comes to class size in N.J. schools

Laura Waters:

Mitt Romney visited a charter school in West Philadelphia last Thursday and, either brazenly or cluelessly, addressed that third rail of education politics, class size.
“In schools that are the highest-performing in the world,” he said, “their classroom sizes are about the same as in the United States. So it’s not the classroom size that’s driving the success of those school systems.”
An opportunity for a rational discussion of the costs and benefits of small class size?
More like a greedy Democratic pounce on Romney’s education street cred. President Obama’s spokeswoman sneered, “What planet does he live on?”
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter emoted, “I’m not sure what universe he’s operating in, but we certainly know in Pennsylvania, every parent knows, every second-grader knows, that smaller class sizes are preferable.”

Nancy Sebring resigns from Omaha superintendent job

Mary Stegmeir & Jens Manuel Krogstad:

In a stunning reversal of fortune, former Des Moines Superintendent Nancy Sebring went from presiding over Iowa’s largest school district to losing a new job she had landed to lead the Omaha schools, after disclosure she had used Des Moines school equipment to send and receive sexually explicit emails.
The Omaha school board voted Saturday afternoon without discussion to accept her resignation from the job she was to start July 1.
The vote capped a rapid-fire series of developments that unfolded in less than 20 hours:
8:46 p.m. Friday: The Des Moines Register publishes an online story reporting that Sebring’s abrupt, earlier-than-scheduled departure from the Des Moines district May 10 came after she was confronted by school board members about the discovery of the explicit emails.

Outgoing Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad interviewed for the Omaha position.

University Information Services with API’s

Kin Lane:

APIs are making information more accessible across many industries and sectors, but one area I haven’t seen a lot of movement, until recently, is at Universities.
Last month, Harvard openly licensed their library meta data and through a partnership with the Digital Public Library of America, made it available via APIs. But today’s story is more about APIs driving the operations side of higher ed at the University of Washington.

A Game of Inches

Matthew DiCarlo:

One of the more telling episodes in education I’ve seen over the past couple of years was a little dispute over Michelle Rhee’s testing record that flared up last year. Alan Ginsburg, a retired U.S. Department of Education official, released an informal report in which he presented the NAEP cohort changes that occurred during the first two years of Michelle Rhee’s tenure (2007-2009), and compared them with those during the superintendencies of her two predecessors.
Ginsburg concluded that the increases under Chancellor Rhee, though positive, were less rapid than in previous years (2000 to 2007 in math, 2003 to 2007 in reading). Soon thereafter, Paul Peterson, director of Harvard’s Program on Educational Leadership and Governance, published an article in Education Next that disputed Ginsburg’s findings. Peterson found that increases under Rhee amounted to roughly three scale score points per year, compared with around 1-1.5 points annually between 2000 and 2007 (the actual amounts varied by subject and grade).
Both articles were generally cautious in tone and in their conclusions about the actual causes of the testing trends. The technical details of the two reports – who’s “wrong” or “right” – are not important for this post (especially since more recent NAEP results have since been released). More interesting was how people reacted – and didn’t react – to the dueling analyses.

Why privatize education?

kelli lundgren:

Something is wrong with conservatives’ free market argument for privatization of Utah’s public schools as promoted by several Republican legislators and their ally, the corporate lobbyist American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC.
If a free market were truly free, by definition our society would need to completely remove education from federal and state control, including eliminating funding by taxes.
Vouchers could not be used. This, too, pools society’s money for redistribution. No, for pure competition, a family would need to use its own direct tax savings to pay for the education of each child. Conservatives may respond, “Federal and state governments still need to collect taxes, but then distribute the money for private schools of choice.”

Hold education bureaucracy accountable, or lose your right to do it

Laurie Rogers:

“Villainy wears many masks, none so dangerous as the mask of virtue.”– Ichabod Crane, in the 1999 film version of “Legend of Sleepy Hollow”
“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”-Walt Disney
Those who still think America’s public schools are focused on academics are behind the times. Money, control and influence are the priorities now. You can tell because of the battle being fought behind the scenes in our school districts over open government.
Citizens who want to know what government schools are doing with our dollars and children are finding that many in leadership don’t want us to know. As we push for information, they’re pushing back. This struggle is taking place earnestly – even fiercely. It’s also happening quietly, largely because the media aren’t much help. (Many of those whose job is to inform the public have become sycophantic defenders of the government and aggressive attackers of the people.)

NJ Report Cards Cause Consternation Re: “Real” Cost Per Pupil

New Jersey Left Behind:

The NJ DOE released the 2010-2011 School Report Cards yesterday, with a few new bells and whistles. One new feature is accurate graduation rates, previously self-reported by individual districts; another spotlights the cost per pupil when other costs – mandated preschools, out-of-district tuition, debt, transportation – are added to the mix.
(Weirdly, Trenton Public Schools is missing from the database.)
Here’s a rundown of local coverage, which is primarily focused on school costs.
NJ Spotlight (its interactive Report Card here) comments on the impact of NJ’s fiscal difficulties on school costs:

California School district earns ‘independence’ from state control

Jill Tucker:

Richmond Unified, the first school district in California to go bankrupt and require a bailout loan, made its last payment to the state Friday – four years early.
District officials, in what is now called West Contra Costa Unified, squirreled away enough money during tough economic times to pay off the $29 million loan made 21 years ago.
The final payment of $8,130,607.58 was handed over to state Superintendent Tom Torlakson at Richmond’s Ford Elementary Friday morning.
The settling of the debt ends two decades of state control over the district, which serves 30,000 students in 50 schools across five cities.
“We’re ready to pay you off and get you out of our hair,” school board President Charles Ramsey told Torlakson as he handed him the oversized check.

Why California Should Scrap the Academic Performance Index

Richard Lee Colvin:

A few years ago, the symptoms of academic failure at Audubon Middle School southwest of downtown Los Angeles were obvious. Students roamed the trash-strewn campus during class hours, unafraid of consequences. The principal was rarely around, and when he was, he almost never visited classrooms. Observations required for teacher evaluations often were not done, yet teachers still received good ratings. The faculty divided into camps. Some closed their classroom doors and did the best job they could. Others did little more than show videos, knowing it didn’t matter. The nearest Subway restaurant did a brisk business delivering sandwiches to classrooms during instructional time. “This was not a functioning school,” one teacher said. “It was sink or swim, and we were just barely keeping our heads above water.”

Dan Nerad a Semi-Finalist for the Birmingham, MI Schools Superintendent; District spends about 10% less per student than Madison

Pat Schneider:

Madison School District Superintendent Dan Nerad made the cut Saturday to become one of two finalists for the top job at a school district in suburban Detroit, according to an online report.
Nerad was selected as a finalist for superintendent of the Birmingham Public Schools at a special Saturday session of the School Board, the Birmingham Patch reports.
He apparently made a big impression on school board members in Michigan, particularly with his handling of controversy over the race-based achievement gap in Madison schools.

Much more on Dan Nerad, here.
A few comparisons:
Birmingham’s 2011-2012 budget is $107,251,333 for “more than 8000 students”, or roughly $13,406/student. That is about 10% less than Madison’s $14,858.40/student.
Birmingham’s per capita income is $69,151, more than double Madison’s $29,782. Birmingham’s median household income is $101,529 while Madison’s is nearly half: $52,550.
Birmingham had 6 national merit semi-finalists this past year while Madison featured 41. Michigan’s 209 cut score was identical to Wisconsin’s this past year.
Madison continues to spend more per student than most American school districts.

Vouchers, Mini-Vouchers: Louisiana’s bold bid to privatize schools

Stephanie Simon:

Starting this fall, thousands of poor and middle-class kids will get vouchers covering the full cost of tuition at more than 120 private schools across Louisiana, including small, Bible-based church schools.
The following year, students of any income will be eligible for mini-vouchers that they can use to pay a range of private-sector vendors for classes and apprenticeships not offered in traditional public schools. The money can go to industry trade groups, businesses, online schools and tutors, among others.
Every time a student receives a voucher of either type, his local public school will lose a chunk of state funding.
“We are changing the way we deliver education,” said Governor Bobby Jindal, a Republican who muscled the plan through the legislature this spring over fierce objections from Democrats and teachers unions. “We are letting parents decide what’s best for their children, not government.”

The University: Still Dead

Angus Kennedy:

In the course of tracing the changes from the religious foundations – the colleges – of the early American colonists through to the vast ‘multiversitys’ of today, Andrew Delbanco usefully draws attention to the fact that putting a big sign up on a college saying Committed to Providing Excellent Higher Education for All would probably signify that the very opposite was happening inside. He notes a grand inscription at Columbia University from the beginning of the twentieth century: ‘Erected for the Students that Religion and Learning May Go Hand in Hand and Character Grow with Knowledge.’ At the time, the buildings were actually going up for research staff, not for undergraduates, religion was ‘certainly no longer at the center of campus life’, tradition and the canon were being thrown over for the modern, and the idea that professionalised career academics should bother themselves with the moral improvement of undergraduates was quaint at best.

Chicago schools battle closely studied across country

Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah and Joel Hood:

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s star power within the Democratic Party has put a national spotlight on the fight over the future of public schools in Chicago and attracted support from education reform groups eager to see how much change can be effected in a pro-labor city.
“The headlines from Chicago are emailed around to mayors and policymakers every morning,” said Joe Williams, head of Washington,D.C.-based Democrats for Education Reform, a group started by Wall Street hedge fund managers. “I think people want to see what’s possible, both politically and on the ground in schools and in communities.”
Democrats for Education Reform and another major education organization, Oregon-based Stand for Children, have each established themselves in Chicago and are working to build backing for Emanuel’s education agenda.

Revealed: How Banks Skim Millions From Student Aid Using Debit-Card-Linked Student IDs

Common Dreams:

Over 9 million students are at risk for increased educational debt, due to bank-affiliated campus debit cards that come with high fees, insufficient consumer protections, and few options. Financial institutions now have affinity partnerships with almost 900 campuses nationwide, grafting bank products onto student IDs and other campus cards to become the primary recipient of billions in federal financial aid to distribute to students.
“Campus debit cards are wolves in sheep’s clothing,” observed Rich Williams, U.S. PIRG Higher Education Advocate and report co-author. “Students think they can access their dollars freely, but instead their aid is being eaten up in fees.”
The Campus Debit Card Trap, a new report released by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund, finds that banks and financial firms now control or influence federal financial aid disbursement to over 9 million students by linking checking accounts and prepaid debit cards to student IDs. For decades, students would receive their aid by check, without being charged any fees to access their student aid. Now, students end up paying big fees on their student aid, including per-swipe fees of $0.50, inactivity fees of $10 or more after 6 months, overdraft fees of up to $38 and plenty more. Financial institutions aggressively market or default students into their bank accounts to maximize these fees.

School choice helps with entrepreneurship

Jonathan Moules:

The privilege bestowed on pupils from independent and grammar schools extends to greater links with business founders and lessons about what it means to be an entrepreneur, a report claims.
The study of 1,002 young people by The Pearson Think Tank, funded by Pearson, owner of the Financial Times, and the Education and Employers Taskforce found that those studying at grammar and independent schools were twice as likely to have been involved in a long-term entrepreneurship competition than their peers in non-selective state schools.

Student-Loan Debt Rises 8% to $904 Billion

Josh Mitchell:

Americans are stepping up borrowing to pay for college while they cut other debt as a weak job market contributes to increased college enrollment, new Federal Reserve Bank of New York data show.
Americans owed $904 billion in student loans at the end of March, nearly 8% higher than a year ago, the New York Fed said Thursday in its quarterly report on consumer credit. That is more than the $679 billion on their credit cards at the end of the first quarter.
The New York Fed estimates of student debt are slightly lower than the the more than $1 trillion figure cited earlier this year by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The New York Fed’s estimate is based on a sampling of consumer-credit-agency accounts; the CFPB estimate is based on government data and a survey of private lenders.

The National History Club

Robert L. Nasson, via a kind email:

The National History Club (NHC) was formed in March 2002 to promote the reading, writing, discussion, and enjoyment of history among secondary students and their teachers by giving after school history clubs around the country a clearinghouse to share history-related activities and information with each other. We now have 445 chapters in 43 states and there are over 13,000 students involved. Each chapter sets its own course, and this has led to a wide array of activities that include: Veterans Day ceremonies involving local veterans, participation in National History Day, historic preservation outreach in their communities, and trips to such historic sites as the 16th Street Baptist Church, Valley Forge, and the Lewis and Clark State Historic Site.
This makes the organization unique. By encouraging students to take charge of the direction of their clubs, the NHC uses a bottom-up approach, where students passionate about history are doing the history activities they choose. Rather than a traditional top-down method, which often leads to apathetic students, the NHC has given an ownership stake to every chapter that has joined the organization.
History is the only topic taught in every secondary school that can engage students in learning from past to achieve understanding of, and tackling human problems in, the world today. In history there is truly something for everyone. History is political, artistic, social, economic, military, athletic, scientific, cultural, religious, technological, literary, philosophical, geographic, ethnic, and mathematical. History can be as contemporary as yesterday and as ancient as Mesopotamia, as near as the city one lives in and as far away as Andromeda. History can be seen and touched, read and written, made and remembered. Everyone is a part of history.
More importantly, the study of history builds the critical skills students need to become responsible citizens and effective leaders. Researching and discovering new information, as well as reading, synthesizing, and communicating that information effectively: these are the skills that help make someone successful in business, in civic life, and even in science.
We produce a tri-annual Newsletter that features chapter accounts from throughout the country, and run a number of award programs with various history organizations such as George Washington’s Mount Vernon and The History Channel. Chapters are frequently sharing ideas and activities with each other, and this leads to an active and involved membership. Through this interaction, students and Advisors see that they are not alone in their passion for the study of history, and this encourages more schools to join.
The work of the NHC is as important as ever considering the deteriorating history standards in our schools. A 2010 Civics Assessment administered by the National Assessment of Educational Progress displayed the lack of understanding of civics among students in our secondary schools. Among some of the key findings:
Fewer than half of American eighth graders knew the purpose of the Bill of Rights.
Only one in 10 eighth graders demonstrated acceptable knowledge of the checks and balances among the legislative, executive, and judicial branches.
Three-quarters of high school seniors were unable to name a power granted to Congress by the Constitution.
While there are many people and organizations now complaining about the historical illiteracy of the younger generation, we are one of the few actually doing something about it. The NHC has a sustainable model in place, and we are constantly adding chapters in schools from big cities and rural towns to our community. We want students, teachers, and schools that have a passion for history to join our movement. To view our latest Newsletter or to find out how to create a chapter and join the NHC please visit
Robert L. Nasson
Executive Director,
National History Club
P.O. Box 441812
Somerville, MA 02144

Local voucher school’s teachers go months without pay

Lindsay Fiori:

A local voucher school has not paid teachers in months and has lost nearly two-thirds of its students, staff said Wednesday.
St. John Fisher Academy, a private high school that opened in Racine last fall using state voucher money, has reportedly not paid staff members since March and has seen student enrollment dwindle from about 50 children to only 26, according to teachers who filed complaints this month with the state Department of Workforce Development.
Teachers have continued to show up for work each day despite going without pay from mid-December to February and from March to now, they said.

Sal Khan’s ‘Academy’ sparks a tech revolution in education

Marco R. della Cava:

It’s not much past 9 a.m., and Khan, 36, founder of the online educational non-profit Khan Academy, gets set to record his 3,081st video lecture in a small office with a view of air conditioning ducts.
“In 1997, you see, there was a devaluation of the Thai currency,” Khan says into a beefy microphone as he makes crude sketches on his monitor.
If you want gleaming high-tech, go down the road to Google’s campus. If you’re looking for a revolution, this is the right address.
Ever since quitting his job as a successful hedge-fund analyst two years ago to dedicate himself full time to this labor of love, Khan has managed to win fans worldwide and goad skeptical educators.

Paul Vallas, a School Reform Town Hall May 26 2012

Paul Vallas at LaFollette Video

School reform superintendent Paul Vallas spoke at LaFollette High School at the behest of Boys and Girls Club of Dane County CEO Michael Johnson. The two and a half hour presentation with question and answer periods as attended by about 100 people in the LaFollette Auditorium.
Paul Vallas has been the Superintendent of schools in Chicago (CPS), Philadelphia, New Orleans, and currently Bridgeport Connecticut. He is currently hired to improve the schools in both Chile and Haiti, and has been praised in two State of the Union addresses. His work as a superintendent has engendered both strong support and strong disagreement.
The two and a half hour meeting has been divided into five clips and I have tried to summarize comments made by Paul Vallas, the panel and the audience members who spoke.

Measuring Teacher Effectiveness


Research and experience make this clear: Great teachers change lives. They inspire and motivate students, and set them on a path for future success. By contrast, just one underperforming teacher can have a lasting negative impact on a student.
Given this reality, significant time and attention has rightly been focused on ensuring that all children have outstanding teachers at the front of their classrooms. This includes improving how teacher performance is evaluated and using evaluations to guide a range of decisions about prepration, recruitment, training, assignment, salary, tenure and dismissal.
As states, districts and school systems across the nation work towards effective teacher evaluation systems, they must tackle difficult questions about design and implementation. This research report aims to help by offering a detailed look at the key components of 10 teacher evaluation models

Candidates — and endorsements — in Oakland school board races

Katy Murphy:

Great Oakland Public Schools, a school reform-minded coalition of families and school employees supported by the Rogers Family Foundation and other groups, has become increasingly involved in Oakland school district policy since its founding a few years ago. Now, for the first time, its board of directors has endorsed school board candidates in the November election, through this process.
GO Public Schools announced today that it had endorsed two of the four candidates for District 3 (West Oakland): incumbent Jumoke Hinton Hodge and challenger Sheilagh Polk. The organization is also backing one of its founding members, James Harris, who is challenging incumbent Alice Spearman for the District 7 seat (East Oakland-Elmhurst).

A Tale of Five Cities

Neerav Kingsland:

A devastating natural disaster destroys one of the nation’s most under-performing school districts. Leaders of state takeover agency (Recovery School District, or RSD) focus energy on human capital, charter school development, and autonomous district schools. National philanthropy invests heavily. Entrepreneurial educators head south. Five years in, the RSD’s third superintendent announces he will charter all schools and develop the nation’s first charter school district. His successor, the fourth superintendent in six years and a former New Orleans teacher, commits to continuing down this path. Charter school and human capital efforts continue with full force. Test scores are up but there is still a long way to go. No plans exist for long-term governance of system.

When to Pursue Governance Reform

Mike Ford:

Governance reform is a seductive idea because it is usually presented as a silver bullet for addressing a policy problem. For example, if the elected school board does not provide students with an adequate education, let’s replace it with one that will.
If only it was that simple. The inconvenient fact is that a school board does not educate pupils, teachers do. A school board governance change alone will not turn Milwaukee schools around.
The same is true for other local governments. The actual delivery of services is performed by street level bureaucrats that go about their duties regardless of who happens to be in charge of the City or County.
But this does not mean governance is irrelevant. Governance, whether it is the setting of specific policies or merely the setting of an organizational culture, can be the difference between creating an environment where an organization can thrive, or one where mediocrity is the ceiling.

Preschool: The Littlest Job-Readiness Program?

Chana R. Schoenberger:

Can finger-painting, cup-stacking and learning to share set you up for a stellar career?
Research says yes, according to Dr. Celia Ayala, chief executive officer of Los Angeles Universal Preschool, a nonprofit that funds 325 schools in Los Angeles County, Calif., using money from tobacco taxes.
“When they enter kindergarten ready to thrive with all the social, emotional and cognitive skills, they perform at grade level or above,” she said. “When they don’t, that’s where that achievement gap starts.”
Kids without that early boost have been shown to be more likely to get special-needs services, be held back a grade or two, get in trouble with the law and become teen parents. Preschool alumni have a better chance, she said.
“Those who go to preschool will go on to university, will have a graduate education, and their income level will radically improve,” she said.