The Read

All that is happening inside — and outside — the dropout nation. Updated throughout the day: No Child debate? What No Child debate?: Cato’s Neil McCluskey wonders why folks such…

Starting early to prevent dropouts. Courtesy of mindoh.files.wordpress.com

Starting early to prevent dropouts. Courtesy of mindoh.files.wordpress.com

All that is happening inside — and outside — the dropout nation. Updated throughout the day:

    1. No Child debate? What No Child debate?: Cato’s Neil McCluskey wonders why folks such as himself — who oppose a federal role in education — weren’t invited to the Newtalk.org debate on what to do with the federal education law? The host, John Merrow gives him an answer McCluskey considers “a very narrow exchange.” He is right.
    2. Expanding school choice, California stye: Some $100 million may be spent on building new charter schools under SB 658, which would also fund year-round schools, according to George B. Sanchez of the L.A. Daily News. The latter part of the bill — and the far larger section, at least fiscally — is why the state teachers union is willing to buck its traditional resistance to expanding charters. Who knew a little wheel-greasing would help in expanding school choice? Anyway, this move is far more positive than the effort attempted by the state House leadership in Indiana last year to essentially vut off funding to charters.
    3. A benefit of immigration — Good teachers (thanks to Alexander Russo): Importing Filipino natives to the United States in order to teach English and Math once seemed to be confined to the Clark County school district in Las Vegas and other West Coast districts. Now, notes the Washington Post Magazine, they are even helping suburban D.C. school districts fill their shortages. Students get the instruction they need to keep from dropping out. And the teachers? They get to help their families back home.
    4. More state gaming of No Child (Subscription required): As if Mississippi — whose graduation rate for black males is just under 50 percent for the Class of 2006 — actually needed to lower its curriculum standards. All the state board of education did was merely move above bare minimum. And that’s just following other states in fostering what the folks at Fordham would call the proficiency illusion.
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      This is Dropout Nation: Philadelphia

      When it comes to students dropping out, the City of Brotherly Love is actually the Metropolis of Scholastic Sorrow. Less than 47 percent of the freshmen who made up the…

      When it comes to students dropping out, the City of Brotherly Love is actually the Metropolis of Scholastic Sorrow. Less than 47 percent of the freshmen who made up the city’s Classes of 2000 through 2005 actually made it to graduation; between 30 percent and 35 percent of their respective classmates dropped out. The rest were either still enrolled or had transferred out of their respective schools; they will likely drop out too.

      Check out this map, originally in the original Unfilled Promise report co-authored by Johns Hopkins researchers Robert Balfanz and Ruth Curran Neild — part of their long-term research on developing early indicators of potential dropouts. Then consider how we can address these issues block by city block, no matter where you live.

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      The Read

      The dropout nation at a glance. Updated throughout the day: What shall be done with No Child Left Behind: Some such as Checker Finn of Fordham are arguiing for a…

      A young black man with textbooks. Now, this is what we should be seeing. Photo courtesy of blacksgiveback.blogspot.com

      A young black man with textbooks. Now, this is what we should all see. Photo courtesy of blacksgiveback.blogspot.com

      The dropout nation at a glance. Updated throughout the day:

        1. What shall be done with No Child Left Behind: Some such as Checker Finn of Fordham are arguiing for a major re-write of the law while Diane Ravitch — she of the Broader, Bolder Coalition — think it should probably be dumped altogether. Meanwhile Sol Stern argues that, instead of re-writing the law outright, it should essentially be strengthened to show which states are gaming the system by lowering standards. Feel free to read more of the debate at Newtalk.org.
        2. Editor’s note: Ryan Hill of TEAM Schools argues that the gaming of the system by states exemplifies the need for national standards. I would generally agree. Except for this: If the federal government is already struggling to get all 50 states to comply with No Child’s goals — and that’s with a wide array of exemptions and allowances for missed deadlines thusfar — why would anyone think that it can go so far and actually enforce curriculum standards? And as we have seen in debates over phonics versus whole language and Reading First, a growing federal role will only mean additional battling over whose standards are best — leading to a set of curriculum rules that are as mushy as many of the standards at the state level.
        3. It’s never about the teachers: At least that is the perspective of the piece written by California Federation of Teachers President Marty Hittelman, who mentions that California is among the last in school spending per student (even though California is also, by the way, the nation’s largest state and spends $40 billion annually on K-12) and argues that the allegedly low spending, along with the lack of librarians, are among the reasons why some 127,300 students in the state’s original Class of 2007  are failing to get their sheepskins. I must ask: What about, umm, high-quality instruction by high-quality teachers? Which may be obtained if the state’s rules governing teacher evaluations allowed for more stringent analysis of teacher competency.
        4. Meanwhile the Golden State’s school superintendent, Jack O’Connell advocates for using data in solving the state’s dropout crisis. It would help if his department had a better relationship with the most powerful congressperson on education — California Congressman George Miller.
        5. Not acceptable at any level: So says the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette about the spate of bad news about Indiana’s — and Indianapolis’ — low graduation rates.
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          The Price of Dropping Out: Cinema Division

          As a cinematic enterprise, Slam isn’t exactly Metropolitan or She’s Gotta Have it. But the film, directed by underground rapper Saul Williams, offers some of the most gripping lessons for…

          As a cinematic enterprise, Slam isn’t exactly Metropolitan or She’s Gotta Have it. But the film, directed by underground rapper Saul Williams, offers some of the most gripping lessons for young people — especially young black men such as the main character (played by Williams himself) — about the consequences of dropping out from high school. In this scene, Williams’ character receives a lecture from the chief corrections officer of the D.C. jail (in this case, played by the actual chief C.O. himself) about why jail is not the place to be.

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          The Read

          What is going on inside — and outside — the dropout nation. Updated throughout the day: Surprise, surprise: Poor black and other minority students in Texas are less likely to…

          What is going on inside — and outside — the dropout nation. Updated throughout the day:

            1. Surprise, surprise: Poor black and other minority students in Texas are less likely to get highly-qualified teachers than students of all races in wealthier parts of the state, reports Gary Scharrar of the Houston Chronicle.
            2. Spend, spend, spend: The Wall Street Journal looks at spending by the national operations of the NEA and AFT. Given that teachers generally don’t have much choice but to join the unions — either on their own or agency fees that they pay even if they aren’t members — it is important to think about how the NEA and AFT spends the money of its rank-and-file. Especially — and more importantly — as the state and local affiliates lobby state legislators and policymakers for more favorable governance rules.
            3. Mike Antonucci has his own thoughts.
            4. Liam Julian on Affirmative Action: “Affirmative action hasn’t just somehow changed, somehow morphed, into a policy by which privileged whites can expiate past wrongs and rid themselves of guilt… These are what affirmative action has, in fact, always been about.” Credit Kevin Carey for this discussion.
            5. Is education devalued by rhetoric: So asks Mike Petrilli at Flypaper in a discussion about why education doesn’t always grab the attention of the average voter as other issues do. From where I sit, the problem lies in the reality that education is one of the few government goods everyone uses and therefore, each person thinks their experience is the norm. Suburban students who graduate from school, make it to college and succeed in the workforce, therefore, have difficulty understanding why their counterparts in urban schools don’t do so. Or why their parents keep them in those schools in the first place. Thus adding to the difficulty of selling the value of concepts such as vouchers and charters schools to suburbanites. And proving the point that people only know what they see and don’t care about what they don’t.
            6. Of course, it doesn’t help that some people think schools aren’t the problem: Just read the declaration of the Broader, Bolder Coalition, which proclaims that poor-performing schools aren’t the problem. Then read this polemic by Michael Holzman of the Schott Foundation for Public Education — who just oversaw the release of its latest annual report on low graduation rates for young black men — in which he declares that such schools are the problem. One of these folks knows better. The others, well, ignore most of the problem, thus weakening their argument altogether.
            7. Speaking of Schott: Joanne Jacobs offers some thoughts on the report, while commenters offer their own explanations for the academic woes of black males.
            8. In charts: Ken DeRosa explains the correlations between school spending and academic performance.
            9. Suburbia and School Reform, Part MMM: Chicago Public Radio takes a look at one effort to start a charter school in a suburban community — and why the effort is not taking hold. Until suburban parents recognize that their schools are often no better than some average-performing urban high schools, they will not embrace reform.
            10. Self-promotion, as always: The real reason why so many Americans aren’t reaping the benefits of free trade and globalization can be seen not in NAFTA, but in L.A.’s Hollywood High School and other schools in which academic failure has become the norm. Check it out today at The American Spectator.
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