Inside News Corp’s $540 Million Bet on American Classrooms

Travis Andrews:

This piece is part of Mashable Spotlight, which presents in-depth looks at the people, concepts and issues shaping our digital world.
In the middle of Brooklyn’s high-end Dumbo neighborhood, 20 inner-city children sit around two wooden tables at what appears to be a small summer camp. Tablet computers are scattered across the tables, punctuated by plates of corn chips and bowls of salsa. The kids are restless on this sweltering July afternoon, fidgeting in their chairs and asking the handful of twenty-somethings if they can play Temple Run or maybe just head home for the day.
These kids aren’t technically campers, and these Millennials aren’t counselors. Instead, the children are product testers (paid weekly in $100 Amazon gift cards) for News Corp., the Rupert Murdoch-founded media conglomerate that began Fox News. The “counselors” are News Corp. employees, tasked with recording these children’s every reaction to the educational games into which News Corp. has poured at least $180 million, according to Bloomberg, on top of the $360 million it spent to acquire the technology.

Ideas for Improving Science Education in the U.S.

Claudia Dreifus:

Steven Strogatz, professor of mathematics, Cornell University; author, “The Joy of x: A Guided Tour of Math, From One to Infinity.”
If I could do one thing, I’d get real mathematicians who are math types to become math teachers. K-12 students need someone there with a real feel for the subject matter. Give them the freedom to teach what they want. It has to be discouraging to have to teach to a test and a set curriculum.
Freeman A. Hrabowski III, mathematician; president, University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
When I give talks around the country, I often ask the audience: “How many of you knew you were an English/history type or a math/science type by the time you were in 11th grade?” Almost all the hands go up. And, when I ask why, I often hear, “Because I was better in English.”
The question is: How does someone know that at 15 or 16? The way that math or science works in our lives is not always obvious.
We need to create opportunities to excite students about how math and science connect to real life. Few teachers have opportunities to use their math skills outside the classroom. I would like to see more partnerships involving school systems, the corporate sector and government that provide teachers paid summer work opportunities applying their math skills to real-life problems.

Madison Teachers, Inc. Solidarity Newsletter

Madison Teachers, Inc. Newsletter via a kind Jeanie (Bettner) Kamholtz email (PDF):

To each and every one of the nearly 5,000 District employees who are represented by MTI, welcome, as the 2013-14 school year begins! MTI is the collective bargaining agent for all teachers and non-supervisory professional staff, educational assistants (EA-MTI), clerical/technical personnel (SEE-MTI), substitute teachers (USO-MTI), and school security assistants (SSA-MTI) who are employed by the Madison Metropolitan School District. It is the Union’s mission to negotiate the best possible Collective Bargaining Agreements, and to provide the best representation and service possible, when assisting members with any Contract or work-related matter. Contact your Union staff at MTI Headquarters (257-0491 or should you have a question or need assistance with any Contract or work-related matter.
This school year will be one of challenge as MTI moves to preserve members’ wages, benefits and rights. MTI is one of the few public employee unions with contracts in place, given the devastating impact of Walker’s Act 10.
MTI Greets New Hires
Members of MTI’s Board of Directors, Bargaining Committee and Union staff greeted the District’s newly hired teachers at New Teacher Orientation last Monday. On Tuesday MTI hosted a luncheon for the 250 new members of MTI’s teacher bargaining unit.
MTI President Peg Coyne and MTI Executive Director John Matthews addressed the District’s new teachers during Tuesday’s luncheon. In doing so, Matthews provided a brief history of the Union, its reputation of negotiating outstanding Collective Bargaining Agreements which provide both employment security and economic security, and in explaining the threat to both, given Act 10, said all MTI members would need to pull together to preserve the Madison Metropolitan School District as a quality place to teach.
President Coyne gave a warm MTI welcome to those present, discussed MTI’s structure and stressed the need for member participation in political action, if public employees are to regain the right to collectively bargain and if schools are to be adequately funded.
District retiree Jan Silvers lighted up the room when discussing how her life and career was much more enjoyable and rewarding having MTI as her advocate, especially when it came to the ability to experience religious freedom and work during pregnancy. She was awarded 16 years of back pay plus interest as a result of MTI’s litigation. Teachers, through the early 1970’s, had to advise their principal “immediately upon becoming pregnant” and were obligated to resign when the pregnancy “began showing”. As a result of MTI’s accomplishments, such antiquated and degrading policies are history.

Homeowners can’t afford another tax hike

John Olson:

The Madison School Board and new Madison School Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham sure have the nerve proposing a new tax levy for Madison homeowners that will raise the average homeowner property tax bill in Madison by about $120.
Not only is it hard for those homeowners on fixed incomes (think retirees), but what about all of those public employees who are on reduced incomes as the result of the last several years of public employee bashing?
Most public employees in Madison will be lucky to get 2 percent raises over the course of the last 5 years, not to mention having to pay considerable more for their benefits.
Enough is enough. We all can’t afford to continually pay more.

Much more on the Madison Schools’ 2013-2014 budget, here.

New MMSD director of multicultural and global education excited for new school year

A. David Dahmer:

Silvia Romero-Johnson is the Madison Metropolitan School District’s new executive director of multicultural and global education and she could not be more excited.
“This time of year right now is a very exciting time for me,” she tells The Madison Times. “It’s an exciting time when we start preparing for the year and we get our teams back together. I will be out in the schools on the very first day and after that will be visiting them regularly. It is exciting.”
But late August has always been an exciting time for Romero-Johnson who started out teaching as an English as a Foreign Language teacher in her home country of Argentina. After immigrating to the United States, she was a bilingual resource specialist (BRS), a bilingual classroom teacher, and a program support teacher (PST) for bilingual education programs. Two years later, she became the coordinator for Bilingual Education and Dual Language Immersion.
“I’ve had multiple roles in the District working in classrooms and supporting classrooms,” Romero-Johnson says. “I think I’ve done every position that our division supervises so that gives me experience and hopefully empathy for how the work takes place and how the work is done.”

You would think that white progressives would be the biggest champion of empowering poor families, especially those from historically marginalized communities, with the same opportunities they enjoy. But it isn’t so.

Chris Stewart:

In one exchange with a particularly pharisaical special education teacher in Chicago I asked if she could tell me her story of choosing a school for her black children.
Sadly, that ended our conversation. I’ve asked the question of others too. Still, no response.
It isn’t meant to be a rude question. I’m willing to answer it because it forms the bases for why I care about education policy.
Two factors combined inspire all of my educational activism. The first is my own unremarkable k-12 career, and the second is the fear, worry, and great aspirations I had as a young father.
During my own time in K-12 I witnessed the real disparities in schools. I gained insight, as a kid, into the obvious differences between public and private, rich and poor, safe and dangerous, and so on. This included time in a west coast hippy school, a few poor southern schools, a working class Catholic school, a middle-class Midwestern school, and an ultra-wealthy school for children of privilege.
If we all carry our own experiences (and sometimes baggage) into family decisions about education, that’s mine.
When my first son was born I had all of the normal insecurities a young first-time father might have. But the normal anxieties were accelerated by love, fear, and low income. Suddenly I cared for someone so much more than myself, and I didn’t want my own experience to be his. Specifically, I didn’t want him to work in the service industry as I had up to that point.
There was only one real way to launch him toward his God-given potential, beyond the limitations of income, neighborhood, and demography. Education. It was my one shot at getting him on more equal footing with the children of millionaires I was working for at the time.
Now, many years later, many lessons later, and many confounding choices later, I’ve transformed from unremarkable student, to desperate father, to damn near full-time education activist. Not because my story is special. It’s not. Indeed, my story is too common.
Having seen the immense power of school choice, and the real need for parents to have options when they encounter an educational crossroads for their child, how could I be anything other than a school choice advocate?

via Laura Waters.
Related: A Majority of the Madison school board rejected the proposed Madison preparatory Academy IB charter school.

“It’s the curriculum, stupid”

Daniel Willingham

What is the explanation? According to Ripley, there is a primary postulate running through the psyche of South Koreans, Finns, and Poles when it comes to education: an expectation that the work will be hard. Everything else is secondary. So anything that gets in the way, anything that compromises the work, will be downplayed or eliminated. Sports, for example. Kids do that on their own time, and it’s not part of school culture.
Several consequences follow from this laser-like focus on academic rigor. For example, if schoolwork is challenging kids are going to fail frequently. So failure necessarily is seen as a normal part of the learning process, and as an opportunity for learning, not a cause of shame.
If the academic work for students will be difficult, teachers will necessarily have to be very carefully selected and well trained. And you’ll do whatever is necessary to make that happen. Even if it means, as in Finland, offering significant financial support during their training.
So what is the primary postulate of American education?

Related: Madison’s disastrous reading scores.

Who will prosper in the New World?

Tyler Cowen:

Self-driving vehicles threaten to send truck drivers to the unemployment office. Computer programs can now write journalistic accounts of sporting events and stock price movements. There are even computers that can grade essay exams with reasonable accuracy, which could revolutionize my own job, teaching. Increasingly, machines are providing not only the brawn but the brains, too, and that raises the question of where humans fit into this picture — who will prosper and who won’t in this new kind of machine economy?
Who will do well?
THE CONSCIENTIOUS Within five years we will are likely to have the world’s best education, or close to it, online and free. But not everyone will sit down and go through the material without a professor pushing them to do the work.

Teens, parents struggle to share social media

Heather Kelly:

Carly and her mom are friends on Facebook, but that doesn’t mean they share everything.
The 17-year-old from Marin County, California, has refined her Facebook privacy settings so that her mother can’t see all the posts that fill her Timeline. Her father, meanwhile, never checks the social network.
“Right now, my mom can only see things that I post. She can’t see anything I’m tagged in or anything that my friends say to me on my profile,” said Carly, a high school senior who asked to be identified only by her first name. “She doesn’t know that, though. I’m like, 80% sure that every other teenager has done that too.”
With teen-agers and their parents (grandparents, even) increasingly active on social networks, both generations are joined in a delicate dance over privacy, safety and freedom of expression online.

Via Susan Poling

English Has Been My Pain for 15 Yeara


Paul Graham managed to put a very important question, the one of the English language as a requirement for IT workers, in the attention zone of news sites and software developers [1]. It was a controversial matter as he referred to “foreign accents” and the internet is full of people that are just waiting to overreact, but this is the least interesting part of the question, so I’ll skip that part. The important part is, no one talks about the “English problem” usually, and I always felt a bit alone in that side, like if it was a problem only affecting me, so in this blog post I want to share my experience about English.

Modern parenting may hinder brain development, research shows

Susan Guibert

Social practices and cultural beliefs of modern life are preventing healthy brain and emotional development in children, according to an interdisciplinary body of research presented recently at a symposium at the University of Notre Dame.
“Life outcomes for American youth are worsening, especially in comparison to 50 years ago,” says Darcia Narvaez, Notre Dame professor of psychology who specializes in moral development in children and how early life experiences can influence brain development.
“Ill-advised practices and beliefs have become commonplace in our culture, such as the use of infant formula, the isolation of infants in their own rooms or the belief that responding too quickly to a fussing baby will ‘spoil’ it,” Narvaez says.

$10,000 tuition cut pays off for St. Paul’s Concordia University

Maura Lerner:

Last spring, as Linzy Heim was narrowing down her list of college choices, she got a call from the softball coach at Concordia University in St. Paul.
Did she know that the century-old Lutheran college was slashing its tuition by $10,000?
Her mom, Denice, was stunned.
“When we started looking, the tuition was quite frightening,” she said. The price cut helped seal the deal.
Last weekend, Linzy, an All-Star softball pitcher from Plattsmouth, Neb., moved into the freshman women’s dorm, Luther Hall, as part of Concordia’s biggest entering class in decades.

Fascinating. quite different than Madison’s K-12 bubble, where we spend twice the national average per student despite disastrous reading scores.

The case against Algebra II

Nicholson Baker, via a kind Marc Eisen email:

In 1545, Girolamo Cardano, a doctor, a wearer of magical amulets, and a compulsive gambler, published a math book in Latin called Ars Magna. The “great art” of the title was algebra. When Cardano was done, he knew he had come up with something huge and powerful and timeless; on the last page was the declaration, written in five years, may it last as many thousands. The equations in Ars Magna looked very different from the ones we are familiar with — here, for instance, is how Cardano wrote the solution to x3 + 6x = 20:
Rv : cu. : R108 p : 10m : Rv :cu. R108m : 10
But the algebraic rules Cardano described and codified are variants of the techniques that millions of students are taught, with varying degrees of success, today.

Struggle For Smarts? How Eastern And Western Cultures Tackle Learning

As we begin a new school year, this story reminds us that our struggling with learning is not any indicator of a lack of intelligence.
Alex Spiegel
In 1979, when Jim Stigler was still a graduate student at the University of Michigan, he went to Japan to research teaching methods and found himself sitting in the back row of a crowded fourth-grade math class.
“The teacher was trying to teach the class how to draw three-dimensional cubes on paper,” Stigler explains, “and one kid was just totally having trouble with it. His cube looked all cockeyed, so the teacher said to him, ‘Why don’t you go put yours on the board?’ So right there I thought, ‘That’s interesting! He took the one who can’t do it and told him to go and put it on the board.’ ”
Stigler knew that in American classrooms, it was usually the best kid in the class who was invited to the board. And so he watched with interest as the Japanese student dutifully came to the board and started drawing, but still couldn’t complete the cube. Every few minutes, the teacher would ask the rest of the class whether the kid had gotten it right, and the class would look up from their work, and shake their heads no. And as the period progressed, Stigler noticed that he — Stigler — was getting more and more anxious.
“I realized that I was sitting there starting to perspire,” he says, “because I was really empathizing with this kid. I thought, ‘This kid is going to break into tears!’ ”
But the kid didn’t break into tears. Stigler says the child continued to draw his cube with equanimity. “And at the end of the class, he did make his cube look right! And the teacher said to the class, ‘How does that look, class?’ And they all looked up and said, ‘He did it!’ And they broke into applause.” The kid smiled a huge smile and sat down, clearly proud of himself.
Stigler is now a professor of psychology at UCLA who studies teaching and learning around the world, and he says it was this small experience that first got him thinking about how differently East and West approach the experience of intellectual struggle.
“I think that from very early ages we [in America] see struggle as an indicator that you’re just not very smart,” Stigler says. “It’s a sign of low ability — people who are smart don’t struggle, they just naturally get it, that’s our folk theory. Whereas in Asian cultures they tend to see struggle more as an opportunity.”

On this Labor Day, let’s remember what unions have done for America

Fabius Maximus:

To remember the loneliness, the fear and the insecurity of men who once had to walk alone in huge factories, beside huge machines. To realize that labor unions have meant new dignity and pride to millions of our countrymen. To be able to see what larger pay checks mean, not to a man as an employee, but as a husband and as a father. To know these things is to understand what American labor means.
— Adlai Stevenson, in a speech to the American Federation of Labor, New York City on 22 September 1952

Yin & Yang:

“Beware of legacy practices (most of what we do every day is the maintenance of the status quo), @12:40 minutes into the talk – the very public institutions intended for student learning has become focused instead on adult employment. I say that as an employee. Adult practices and attitudes have become embedded in organizational culture governed by strict regulations and union contracts that dictate most of what occurs inside schools today. Any impetus to change direction or structure is met with swift and stiff resistance. It’s as if we are stuck in a time warp keeping a 19th century school model on life support in an attempt to meet 21st century demands.” Zimman went on to discuss the Wisconsin DPI’s vigorous enforcement of teacher licensing practices and provided some unfortunate math & science teacher examples (including the “impossibility” of meeting the demand for such teachers (about 14 minutes)). He further cited exploding teacher salary, benefit and retiree costs eating instructional dollars (“Similar to GM”; “worry” about the children given this situation).

Why I Won’t Try to Publish as I Move Towards Tenure

Brad King:

I believe in science, but I spend almost no time reading the academic literature where the science of my craft (journalism) has traditionally been published. I spend even less time trying to craft research that would get publishing in those outlets.
For most normal human beings, this is not a controversial stance. As a tenure-track professor, this cuts against the grain of how you are normally told to proceed. In the Academy, professors traditionally are expected to do research and then publish that research in one of a number of peer-reviewed journals.
A growing number of faculty, including myself, have begun to reject that road to tenure.
The reason: the academic publishing system is built around a 1-2 year publishing process that requires the best and brightest minds to turn over all of their intellectual property without any compensation for that work.

Edgewood College’s new education dean says schools should opt out of high-stakes tests

Ruth Conniff:

As kids and teachers head back to school, the future of education in our state is a boiling-hot topic.
And no one is more ready to plunge into the roiling waters of school controversy than Tim Slekar, the new dean of the school of education at Edgewood College.
Slekar, who just moved to Madison from Pittsburgh, has been blogging about the dangers of corporate-backed education reform for years He is also the cohost of the online chalkface weekly radio show on Sundays at 5 p.m. and a founder of United Opt Out, a group that encourages parents and teachers to refuse to participate in high-stakes standardized tests.

Related: NCTQ survey on teacher education quality.

Ashland U. Slashes Tuition by 37%

By Eric Kelderman:

Ashland University, a private institution in Ohio, is joining a small but growing group of colleges that have sharply cut their tuition while also reducing the amount of institutional aid they offer, to come up with a sticker price that’s closer to what students actually pay. That strategy is one of many that smaller institutions are exploring to try to ease concerns about college costs and shore up enrollments.
Instead of being charged an estimated $30,000 for the 2014-15 academic year, the roughly 3,200 undergraduates at Ashland will pay a little less than $19,000–a decrease of 37 percent. And while the university is also reducing the institutional financial aid it offers, it says it is still lowering the net price that most students will pay.
The changes in tuition and aid are meant to reduce the sticker shock that potential students and parents might experience when weighing Ashland against other college choices, campus officials said in a news release.

Stephen Hsu on Cognitive Genomics

Luke Muehlhauser:

Luke Muehlhauser: I’d like to start by familiarizing our readers with some of the basic facts relevant to the genetic architecture of cognitive ability, which I’ve drawn from the first half of apresentation you gave in February 2013:
The human genome consists of about 3 billion base pairs, but humans are very similar to each other, so we only differ from each other on about 3 million of these base pairs.
Because there’s so much repetition, we could easily store the entire genome of every human on earth (~3mb per genome, compressed).
Rather than scanning an entire genome, we can just scan the roughly 10 million locations where humans are likely to differ (these are called SNPs).
Scanning someone’s SNPs costs about $200; scanning their entire genome costs $1000 or more.
But, genotyping costs are falling so quickly that SNPs may be irrelevant soon, as it’ll be simpler and cheaper to just sequence entire genomes.
To begin to understand the genetic architecture of cognitive ability, we can compare it to the genetic architecture of height, since the genetic architectures of height and cognitive ability are qualitatively the same.
For example, (1) height and cognitive ability are relatively stable and reliable traits (in adulthood), meaning that if you measure a person’s height or cognitive ability at multiple times you’ll get roughly the same result each time, (2) height and cognitive ability arevalid traits, in that they “measure something real” that is predictive of various life outcome measures like income, (3) both height and cognitive ability are highly heritable, and (4) both height and cognitive ability are highly polygenic, meaning that many different genes contribute to height and cognitive ability.
All cognitive observables — e.g. vocabulary, digit recall (short term memory), ability to solve math puzzles, spatial rotation ability, cognitive reaction time — appear to be positively correlated. Because of this, we can (lossily) compress the data for how a person scores on different cognitive tests to a single number, which we call IQ, and this single number is predictive of their scores on all cognitive tests, and also life outcome measures like income, educational attainment, job performance, and mortality.
This contradicts some folk wisdom. E.g. parents often believe that “Johnny’s good at math, so he’s probably not going to be good with words.” But in fact, the data show that math skill is quite predictive of verbal skill, because (roughly) all cognitive abilities are positively correlated.
By convention, IQ is normally distributed in the population with a mean at 100 and a standard deviation of 15.

The STEM Crisis Is a Myth

Robert Charette:

You must have seen the warning a thousand times: Too few young people study scientific or technical subjects, businesses can’t find enough workers in those fields, and the country’s competitive edge is threatened.
It pretty much doesn’t matter what country you’re talking about–the United States is facing this crisis, as is Japan, the United Kingdom,Australia, China, Brazil, South Africa,Singapore, India…the list goes on. In many of these countries, the predicted shortfall of STEM (short for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) workers is supposed to number in the hundreds of thousands or even the millions. A 2012 report by President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, for instance, stated that over the next decade, 1 million additional STEM graduates will be needed. In the U.K., the Royal Academy of Engineering reported last year that the nation will have to graduate 100 000 STEM majors every year until 2020 just to stay even with demand. Germany, meanwhile, is said to have a shortage of about 210 000 workers in what’s known there as the MINT disciplines–mathematics, computer science, natural sciences, and technology.
The situation is so dismal that governments everywhere are now pouring billions of dollars each year into myriad efforts designed to boost the ranks of STEM workers. President Obama has called for government and industry to train 10 000 new U.S. engineers every year as well as 100 000 additional STEM teachers by 2020. And until those new recruits enter the workforce, tech companies like Facebook, IBM, and Microsoft are lobbying to boost the number of H-1B visas–temporary immigration permits for skilled workers–from 65 000 per year to as many as 180 000. The European Union is similarly introducing the new Blue Card visa to bring in skilled workers from outside the EU. The government of India has said it needs to add 800 new universities, in part to avoid a shortfall of 1.6 million university-educated engineers by the end of the decade.

Isn’t Learning Part of ‘Value’?

Richard Hersh:

President Obama has put forth a comprehensive plan to increase higher education value, holding colleges and universities accountable via a rating system based on the “outcomes” of access, graduation rates, graduate earnings and affordability.
It is hard to argue with the President’s intentions, nor the shove-rather-than-nudge strategy he employs, given the decades of higher education’s failure to rein in its costs or improve the success rate of students. The plan affirms higher education’s crucial role in fostering economic and social progress, puts colleges and universities on notice that the time for systemic change is now, not tomorrow, and creates rewards and punishments for institutions and students alike.
The president’s plan largely fails, however, to appropriately tackle the more fundamental value issue – far too little student learning. Myriad studies over the past several decades document that too little “higher” learning is taking place; college students do not make significant gains in critical thinking, problem solving, analytical reasoning, written communication skills, and ethical and moral development.

Big Mother is watching you

Henry Mance:

I spy: technologists are helping parents keep track of their children with new devices, such as the Filip smartwatch
When Apple introduced the Find My iPhone app three years ago, its aim was to help people locate their lost smartphones. But EJ Hilbert, a 43-year-old former FBI officer, had a better idea – installing the app on his three children’s devices, so that he could track them wherever they went.
“They have it on their phone and that’s the way it’s going to be,” says Mr Hilbert, whose day job is investigating cyber crime.
By adapting the Find My iPhone app, Mr Hilbert is part of a wider trend. Until recently technology gave power to the children. Now it is starting to give something back to the parents.

Keep an eye on these top 10 Milwaukee education issues

Alan Borsuk:

Six. The new kids on the block. There are quite a few, but three new schools particularly interest me. They are:
Carmen North. Will the people involved in the successful Carmen High charter school on the south side successfully launch a middle school-high school program in a long-troubled MPS building on the northwest side?
Rocketship Southside Community Prep. This high-profile charter elementary, the first expansion for Rocketship Education beyond its base in San Jose, Calif., will be watched by education activists nationwide who heatedly debate the virtues of the program, which includes a strong component of technology-based learning.
Universal Academy for the College Bound This Philadelphia-based charter school operation is opening elementary and middle schools in two MPS buildings on the north side. The questions I had about how this will go were only compounded when the key Milwaukee leader, Ronn Johnson, was charged recently with sexually assaulting children. But Universal appears intent on weathering the damage that caused.
Seven. MPS leadership. There was a period in the spring when the future of Superintendent Gregory Thornton seemed in doubt.
I still don’t get why School Board members considered putting $80,000 in the budget for a superintendent search.
But last week the board voted to extend Thornton’s contract until 2016. I’d suggest the focus now should be on the rungs below Thornton.
There’s been a lot of change in administrative ranks and a continuing wave of changes in principals. It may be difficult for outsiders (including me) to figure out how this is going, but I know it’s really important.

When Is College Worth It?

Robert VerBruggen:

Today’s RealClearPolicy slate features a piece from Dylan Matthews of the Washington Post claiming that college is a good investment. It pushes back against arguments in the vein of critics like Charles Murray and Richard Vedder, who argue that too many people are going to college.
Several years ago, I wrote a few pieces for National Review outlining the Murray/Vedder view (here’s one from the website), but I hadn’t kept up with the debate, and Matthews’s piece features a lot of newer research on the subject. What follows isn’t necessarily a response, but more of an overview of the topic and a reconsideration of my views in light of the updated evidence. I have six main points to make.
1. It’s not about college, it’s about college-for-all.
Matthews spends a considerable amount of time explaining that attending college is a good idea for the average student. This is true — but to the best of my knowledge, no college critic disputes it. For a lot of high-paying jobs, you simply need a college degree, no matter how smart you are; today’s doctors, teachers, engineers, and so forth would not be nearly so well off if they’d stopped after high school.
What we argue is that not all students benefit from college the way that the average student does, and that efforts to draw even more students to college could do more harm than good, because such efforts are focused on students who today rationally decide that college isn’t for them. We especially bristle at the notion that America should aspire to send all students to college.

State legislation leads to boom in technical education

Celia Llopis-Jepsen:

Seaman High School senior Tori Munsell’s school day starts much like any other student’s. The 17-year-old has three classes in the morning — chemistry, government and British literature.
But in the afternoon, Munsell heads to the Washburn Institute of Technology, where she spends five afternoons a week learning graphic design.
“I feel like this is going to start my career faster,” Munsell said. “I can build a portfolio.”
Munsell is one of 400 high school students enrolled at the technical college so far this semester. They study alongside high school graduates, accruing college credit before even finishing school.

Waiver Watch: Let the Renewal Games Begin

Anne Hyslop:

As Ed Money Watch previously reported, the U.S. Department of Education has placed three states – Kansas, Oregon, and Washington – on “high risk” status for their ESEA waiver plans related to new teacher evaluation systems. If they don’t get up to speed by the end of 2013-14, these states could face a series of increasing sanctions, from losing state administrative or programmatic Title I funding, to losing ESEA flexibility entirely. With the latter, the state would again be subject to all of the requirements and provisions of No Child Left Behind.
Now, the Department has released initial guidelines for all states seeking to renew their waivers this winter. Waivers granted from the first two application windows (November 2011 and February 2012) expire at the end of the current school year. Without the two-year extension, the consequences for these 35 states are the same as for those on high risk: NCLB, in full effect, in 2014-15. I won’t go into the details of the renewal process (yet), but for more analysis take a look at these thorough recaps from Education Week’s Michele McNeil and Politico’s Caitlin Emma.
Instead, I’d like to focus on the challenge the U.S. Department of Education faces in ensuring state compliance with flexibility. The Department has a few tools at its disposal to cajole states into cooperation, but these kinds of punishments are rare, if not unprecedented. Few states have lost Title I funding, administrative or programmatic, under NCLB. And several states have been placed on high risk for their Race to the Top plans, but the Department has yet to follow through on the warning and revoke a portion of states’ funding.