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Cartoon by Gary Varvel

Cartoon by Gary Varvel

What’s happening in the dropout nation:

  1. How many teachers — and schools — use the Internet to engage with parents? Jay Mathews notices that many teachers stubbornly won’t do so. Unfortunately, as with much with the use of technology and data in education, this isn’t so shocking. It would be great to have a technology argument in education similar to what’s going on in the media business.
  2. Julia Steiny on the overuse of harsh school discipline: “Schools banish kids often and self-righteously.. It’s barbaric.”
  3. Big Ed Reform Andy #1 provides a round-up of Race to the Top news out of the Wolverine State. As I had mentioned in October, for many states, it is as much a pursuit of the dollars as it is about achieving substantial education reform. This isn’t a bad thing if the correct results are achieved.
  4. Tom Vander Ark wants the nation’s dropout factories to be fixed or replaced. Who can disagree? This should also apply to the schools that serve as feeders into them.
  5. Mark Kleiman thinks the No Child Left Behind Act’s focus on testing all students at just one point in a school year is rather inefficient; according to him, management guru W. Edwards Deming would be “appalled” by it. Maybe. But it doesn’t have to be an either-or. All students need to be tested in order to assure that each child gets the highest-quality education possible based on his needs. At the same time, sampling would also make sense to do in order to see the long-term results of broad-based reforms. How about that.
  6. School reform isn’t about popularity. Judging by the protests over the closing of Jamaica High and a few other New York City schools, Joel Klein and company know this all too well.
  7. Meanwhile in New Jersey, Gov.-elect Chris Christie is looking to expand a limited public school choice program, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. If successful, New Jersey would be following up on California’s recent expansion of a similar program.
  8. Want to learn more about how many California students aren’t making it from high school into college. Check out Measuring Success, Making Progress, which is funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation (hat tip to The Educated Guess).

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