Tag: David Kirkpatrick


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The Daily Read


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What’s inside — and outside — the dropout nation (updates and new articles marked with an *): It’s about the teachers: Jay Mathews hits on this point in this latest…

Caring, highly-qualified teachers are important in keeping children in school. So the nation must improve the way it recruits, trains and retains instructors. The status quo just won't do.

Caring, highly-qualified teachers are important in keeping children in school. So the nation must improve the way it recruits, trains and retains instructors. The status quo just won't do. (Illustration courtesy of PBS.)

What’s inside — and outside — the dropout nation (updates and new articles marked with an *):

  • It’s about the teachers: Jay Mathews hits on this point in this latest Washington Post column. Although parents and even administrators spend much time on the less-than-ideal conditions of the buildings in which children learn, Mathews notes that the highest-quality learning occurs in buildings in which boilers are broken down and dilapidated churches…
  • And keeping the at-risk students in school: Mathews also rehashes an earlier debate he had with a California vocational school teacher, who argues that not every child wants to go to college and therefore, should be given a strong shop-and-technical school education. My view: The emphasis on college isn’t a bad thing at all, especially in light of the reality that college coursework is becoming an increasingly important qualification in getting blue-collar jobs; the same math skills (algebra and trigonometry) still apply in both cases. Besides, why shouldn’t a plumber also know about Chaucer? The real issue isn’t a need for vocational education — which public schools do an even worse job of providing — but engaging the minds and souls of children in the first place.
  • Bad teacher policymaking, Volume M: California’s legislature is looking to shut down a loophole that allows teachers who plead ‘no contest’ to sex offense charges to continue teaching until their case is heard before the state teacher certification commission. As Joanne Jacobs and Darren Miller of Right on the Left Coast notes, the California Teachers Association — well-known for throwing its heft around in that statehouse — opposes closing the loophole. And given the union’s influence on the legislature, the bill may well fail to pass.
  • A time for innovation in education: Newark Mayor Cory Booker hooks up with venture capitalist John Doerr (a longtime sponsor of school choice efforts) and California Board of Education President Ted Mitchell to argue for a school innovation venture fund in the Los Angeles Times. The goal: Pour more money into vouchers and other innovations to improve the performance of the nation’s public education system.
  • The value of school choice: David W. Kirkpatrick uses his weekly EducationNews.org column as a Q-and-A on the value of vouchers, public charter schools and other choice plans. Reader Bill O’Dea responds with a Q-and-A of his own.
  • Keeping mayoral control of schools: Michael Bloomberg’s fairly successful effort to reform what was one of the nation’s most dysfunctional school systems has been highly lauded nationally. As the New York Times points out today, this doesn’t mean that the powers that be in Albany will extend mayoral control beyond 2009. Bloomberg has long had support from the state Senate Republicans who run the upper house, but Sheldon Silver (who helped orchestrate the end of tenure reform earlier this year) and his Assembly Democrats are notorious for cowtowing to the New York State United Teachers and the United Federation of Teachers, United’s largest affiliate and the key union in New York City schools. As usual, all of this will not come down to the best interest of the city’s children.

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The Read


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Thinking — and writing — about the dropout nation. Updated throughout the day: Figuring out ways to keep them in school: Or at least that is the plan for school…

It shouldn't take a cop to bring a kid back into school. We must all do our part to keep the kids in their seats and ready to learn.

Thinking — and writing — about the dropout nation. Updated throughout the day:

    1. Figuring out ways to keep them in school: Or at least that is the plan for school districts in Montgomery, Ala., Skokie, Illinois, and California’s San Bernardino County. All the plans, however, seem like rehashes of earlier regimes of bringing in police officers to ticket students and charging parents with failure to send their children to school. Not to say it doesn’t have some value. But the plans really should address the lack of academic rigor, the achievement gap issues and the other underlying factors that result in chronic truancy and eventually, leaving school without a sheepskin.
    2. How about raising expectations for special ed students: That’s the argument made by Lance Izumi of the Pacific Research Institute in his San Francisco Chronicle op-ed, in which he criticizes the Golden Gate City’s school officials for opposing a state requirement — dictated by the No Child Left Behind Act — that those students must take the state’s high school exit exam. Given that the test only quizzes students on 8th-grade math and need only to get 55-to-60 percent of the answers correct, all but the most developmentally-disabled special ed students can pass it with some extra tutoring and help from their teachers and schools. Given that 28 percent of special ed students eventually dropped out during the 2004-05 school year, according to the U.S. Department of Education, wouldn’t it make sense to figure out a way to keep those students in school?
    3. A GI Bill for K-12 students? That’s what David Kirkpatrick suggests in his latest column at EducationNews.org. And he notes that not only did the original GI Bill plan work, it didn’t bring additional federal regulations as opponents of the idea feared at the time. Perhaps it is time to create a federal voucher program and expand the level of federal funding to public charter schools.
    4. Are you kidding me? The College Board — the folks, along with Educational Testing Services, behind the Scholastic Aptitude Test — will roll out a version of the PSAT in 2010 designed to test 8th-graders and get them into college prep programs early. L.A. Unified may actually offer the new PSAT to all 8th-graders once it’s unveiled. That’s great news, especially for talented young black males and females, both nationwide and in the City of Angels, who often get shunted aside from such programs despite their high intelligence. But a few folks, according to the Los Angeles Times, think the tests should be given far earlier in 6th grade. They may be right, but 8th-grade testing is a start.
    5. Sometimes, Sol Stern needs to put down his pen: Kevin Carey gives the education policy legend the business for misusing the phrase “Lake Woebegon Effect” in his piece on New York’s math scores. My big issue with Stern on this one is more of the put-up-or-shut-up variety: He doesn’t offer any evidence of whether the students are progressing over time, simply comparing scores of whole grades of students — in this case, grade 3-through-8 — instead of, say doing a value-added time series in which he compares 5th grade student scores to their scores as 8th graders three years later. This method would likely give a better picture of how much of the test score improvement relates to the lowering of standards, natural cognitive growth as students or more effective instruction.
    6. Think before you speak?: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution takes a state education department official to task for declaring in a deposition that a school curriculum without a science component is an “adequate education.”
    7. What do Cheech and Chong and Randi Weingarten and the American Federation of Teachers have in common: According to Matthew Ladner, both are, umm, up in smoke.

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