Tag: Centrist Democrats and teachers unions


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The Daily Read


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Commentary and thinking inside all around the dropout nation (updates and new stories marked with an *): Homeschooling: Not just for Fundamentalist Christians anymore: Although the number of black families…

By homeschooling his children, Paul Cotton is taking control of the educational -- and ultimately, social and economic -- destinies of his children, making their lives better. Not every parent can -- or even should -- homeschool. But every parent, including black parents, can be more pushy and active in charting the educational course of the lives of their children. Do it. (Photo courtesy of the Houston Chronicle.)

By homeschooling his children, Paul Cotton is taking control of the educational -- and ultimately, social and economic -- destinies of his children, making their lives better. Not every parent can -- or even should -- homeschool. But every parent, including black parents, can be more pushy and active in charting the educational course of the lives of their children. Do it. (Photo courtesy of the Houston Chronicle.)

Commentary and thinking inside all around the dropout nation (updates and new stories marked with an *):

  • Homeschooling: Not just for Fundamentalist Christians anymore: Although the number of black families engaged in homeschooling is still a smidgen of the overall population — a mere 220,000, according to the National Home Education Research Institute (and more likely, a little less than that, if one looks at the 1999 National Center for Educational Statistics data), it has become a choice for middle-class families not too cool with how public schools treat racial minorities, according to the Houston Chronicle. If so, this marks another sea-change in how groups that have been traditionally allied with traditional public education are viewing the status quo.
  • Parental engagement? We need more of it!: And they need to be pushy about it to boot, declares Lord Adonis, Britain’s education minister. If the nation is going to get rid of the most substandard of its public schools, it will be up to parents to eschew those places and head toward with better academic performance. For months, the rival of –and likely successor to — Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Conservative Party leader David Cameron, has been arguing that line. Now, imagine U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings saying the same thing. Can’t. Proves my point: It will take more federal and state school officials embracing more active parental involvement before parents will dare get themselves entangled in battles with teachers and administrators over the direction of the schools to which parents send their kids.
  • Speaking of substandard: The Spring Branch Independent School District in Houston may join Dallas Independent schools in watering down standards; this time, the school board appointed a committee looking into limiting the amount of homework given to students, reports the Houston Chronicle. Why? The poor children are being stressed out. Actually, it’s the suburban parents of the district who are stressed out by actually having to be parents. Again, like the battle against standardized testing, which has suburbanites allied with teachers’ unions and suburban school districts against urban districts and school reformers on both the left and right, this is another lifestyle argument that has little to do with actually dealing with the reality that suburban school districts are often doing no better in elevating the academic performance of the children in their care than urban counterparts.
  • Attempting to keep them in school: Fifty percent of students in Muskegon High School in Michigan drop out, thus making the school a major dropout factory outside of Detroit. So the school district is looking at ways to stem the tide, according to the Muskegon Chronicle. One move: Hire specialists such as Chandar Ricks to focus on getting kids back in school and keeping the at-risk students inside. This is an approach that has been taken by districts such as Indianapolis Public Schools earlier in the decade, with smattering of success. And although it is a good move on the district’s part to do this, it must also look at the long-term curriculum and instruction issues that are among the underlying causes of students leaving before they graduate high school.
  • A new relationship with teachers’ unions: Ever since the Progressive Policy Institute’s school reform efforts in the 1990s (then led by Eduwonk’s Andy Rotherham), centrist Democrats and a new generation of black leaders in the party have viewed the arguments made by teachers unions more skeptically than the rest of the base. Now that big-city mayors such as Chicago’s Richard Daley and Adrian Fenty of Washington, D.C., are taking control of traditional public school districts, the unions are getting even less sympathy. This, along with the development of groups such as Joe Williams’ Democrats For Education Reform and primary victories by its supporters — including Denver’s Jared Polis — is making things less comfortable for the AFT and NEA. Mickey Kaus finally realizes this while in Denver during coverage of a Democratic convention shindig. (Hat tip to Joanne Jacobs).

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