Tag: EducationNews.org


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Voices of the Dropout Nation: This Past Weekend


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“Black men must mentor Black boys.  No other way has worked or will work.  Many Black men say that they, themselves, have too many problems and competing issues or that…

They are all our children. All of us -- including black men and even white men -- should teach them well.

“Black men must mentor Black boys.  No other way has worked or will work.  Many Black men say that they, themselves, have too many problems and competing issues or that they are “too busy” to mentor Black boys… Unless Black men mentor Black boys, Many, if not most, Black boys will continue to struggle and fail in this life.” — Phillip Jackson of the Black Star Project on the need for black men to play stronger roles in the lives of young men.

If traditional public schools had been meeting the community’s needs, there would never have been a discussion of using public education dollars for anything other than “traditional” neighborhood schools. This is not the case. America has had it up to ‘here’ with the failures of traditional neighborhood schools. Therefore, charters have no impact on good traditional schools.” —CNN commentator Steve Perry on why urban parents are looking to charter schools and other forms of school choice.

Mistreatment and miseducation causes student failure. The failure experience as a repeated occurrence frequently constitutes child abuse for at-risk kids as debilitating and inexcusable as the better publicized child abuses.  Moreover, failure is condoned and perpetuated as expected traditional educational policy. Teachers, having been successful in school, have difficulty relating to kids’ devastating failure and imperiled lives. Educators and community leaders who should be outraged are, instead, contributing to the calamity… Meanwhile, children’s lives are devastated. Without publicity, there is no outcry; without an outcry, there is no change.” — Bill Page of the At-Risk Student Advocate to EducationNews‘ Michael Shaughnessy about why he is dedicating “my twilight years” to activism on behalf of the most-neglected children.

“If we revert to a patchwork of standards and assessments that vary according to political pressures or societal and community biases, historically disadvantaged students, whether intentionally or unintentionally, will be mislabeled as achieving high standards when in fact they are not. In turn, the schools in which poor and minority students are enrolled are likely to be overlooked when it comes to badly needed investments in teaching and learning and in formulating and implementing fundamental reforms in chronically failing schools.” — Democrats for Education Reform and the Education Equality Project in a recent report explaining the need for standardized testing.

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Read: Snowbound Edition


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What’s happening today in the dropout nation: When the National Education Association took control of the Indiana State Teachers Association last year, Association after the collapse of its insurance trust…

What’s happening today in the dropout nation:

  1. When the National Education Association took control of the Indiana State Teachers Association last year, Association after the collapse of its insurance trust fund, it was more than just a colossal embarrassment of alleged financial mismanagement – and a loss of coverage for its 50,000 rank-and-file members. After decades of winning expensive compensation packages that have made teaching one of the best-paid professions in the public sector, the collapse of ISTA — along with $600 billion in pension deficits and underfunded retirement liabilities — exposes teachers unions to increased scrutiny — especially as taxpayers may end up on the hook for the unions’ failings. Read more about the collapse — and how it could help spur teacher compensation and quality reforms — in my latest Labor Watch report.
  2. Tom Vander Ark sums up the problem with the Obama Administration’s decision to essentially gut the No Child Left Behind Act by eliminating its Adequate Yearly Progress provisions: Doing so will abandon the promise of assuring that every child no matter their race or economic status, can attend a great school staffed by high-performing teachers. Of course, as I hinted last week in The American Spectator, the administration may be doing this (along with boosting education spending for FY 2011) in order to placate the NEA and AFT, whose help they will need in order to keep control of Congress.
  3. The folks behind The Lottery are rallying folks around an “Education Constitution” demanding teacher quality reforms, expansion of school choice and other reforms. Check it out and sign it.
  4. The U.S. Department of Education releases a timely report on an important — if rarely-considered — use of school data: Improving teaching, staffing, student diagnostics and other matters at the district, school and even classroom levels. As I wrote last year in A Byte at the Apple, school data will only be the most useful once the information is delivered and made accessible in ways teachers, administrators and parents find appealing and useful. Right now, however, this is still a problem.
  5. Speaking of useful data, the Consortium on Chicago School Research has a series of papers examining the on-time graduation progress of the Windy City’s high school students. Each of Chicago’s high schools are examined in depth. Read them. I am.
  6. EducationNews is re-running another one of teaching guru Martin Haberman’s fine essays, this on whether the right people are entering teaching. Given the efforts to reform ed schools and weed out laggards before they even apprentice, the piece is as timely as ever.
  7. And, with Gary Orfield’s study of charter school segregation gaining attention from newspapers and school reformers alike, Sonya Sharp of Mother Jones points out the one thing everyone forgets: Traditional school districts are just as segregated (and often, even more segregated) no matter where we go. Joanne Jacobs also offers a compendium of the arguments (including those by your friendly neighborhood editor). And, by the way, here is a piece I wrote a few years ago about diversity and public schools.
  8. Intramural Sparring Watch: Big Edreform Andy #1 (also known as Andrew Rotherham) This Week in Education‘s Alexander Russo (and his employer, Scholastic) for for allegedly running “hearsay” claims against Massachusetts’ education secretary, Paul Reveille, for his supposed intervention in the authorizing of a local charter school. Russo, by the way, has taken potshots against Rotherham and his folks at the Education Sector (which Rotherham, by the way, is leaving by the end of March) for years. Most recently, he accused EdSector of allegedly mucking around with a report authored by EdSector’s now-departed cofounder. Yeah, I’m exhausted from just writing about this.

Meanwhile, check out this week’s Dropout Nation Podcast on the reauthorization of No Child, along with my pieces this week on charter schools and segregation. The next podcast, on civil rights activists and education reform, will be available on Sunday before the Super Bowl. And since you are all stuck inside, get your debate on.

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Read: Teachers Union Spending Spree Division


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What’s happening in the post-State of the Union dropout nation: Politicians often double-talk their way out of trouble, but President Barack Obama has special reason to do so. Amid Democrat…

Time to collect her dues. Van Roekel will join her with the collection plates.

What’s happening in the post-State of the Union dropout nation:

  1. Politicians often double-talk their way out of trouble, but President Barack Obama has special reason to do so. Amid Democrat electoral losses — including scandal-tarred Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley’s defeat at the hands of Scott Brown — is stirring fears of widespread losses in November. So Obama is going to play nice with the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers. But at what price? Read more in my latest analysis in The American Spectator.
  2. At Flypaper, Smooth Mike offers his own thoughts on last night’s State of the Union address. Unlike Obama (or yours truly), he doesn’t think that education is the best anti-poverty program around. Kevin Carey has different thoughts (of course). Meanwhile Bob Wise of the Alliance for Excellent Education calls for a quick reauthorization of No Child.
  3. Monise Seward considers the problems of dropping out among special ed and ELL students.
  4. The Economist takes a look at higher education spending and California’s peculiar problems in funding it. Should there be more funding? Less? As everyone knows, I’ve written a primer about the issues related to funding.
  5. Tom Vander Ark notes what excites — and displeases — him about Race to the Top and the i3 education technology efforts.
  6. The National Charter School Research Project comes out with its latest annual report on the state of charters. Interesting read.
  7. The latest state applications for the federal stimulus’ State Fiscal Stabilization Fund are now available.
  8. In the Detroit News, the head of the NEA’s Michigan affiliate isn’t too happy with accusations that her union allegedly bullied some districts into not signing onto the Wolverine State’s Race to the Top initiatives. Iris Salters declares that the reform effort is merely “a catchy name.” Except for coming from a traditional education perspective, her argument is no different than that of a few libertarian and conservative reformers who will not be named.
  9. At EducationNews, Michael Shaughnessy interviews school activist Jim Freeman, who gets it right when it comes to overuse of suspensions and expulsions, and wrong when it comes to testing. Once again, perpetuating the myth of high-stakes testing.
  10. Martin Haberman offers some more reasons why many urban districts are failing. He notes that more than half of aspiring teachers taught by university ed school programs never enter the profession. Astounding.
  11. The Dallas Morning News‘ William McKenzie notes the latest NCTQ survey of teacher preparation at the state level. Texas doesn’t come off looking good — especially after Gov. Rick Perry decided to ditch Race to the Top participation.
  12. In Rochester City Paper, the upstate New York city’s mayor’s effort to take control of the district is dissected by Tim Louis Macaluso. Let’s just say Mr. Macaluso isn’t impressed with the mayor’s talking points.

Don’t forget to check out this week’s Dropout Nation Podcast, which focuses on the high cost of teacher compensation and tenure for America’s taxpayers — and how it will drive the efforts to revamp how teachers are paid and evaluated. Also read last week’s Dropout Nation articles, including yesterday’s This is Dropout Nation report on Cleveland’s special ed problem.

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Read: Monday Morning Champions Edition


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What’s happening in the dropout nation that doesn’t involve pigskin: In New York, Randi Weingarten’s successor as head of the American Federation of Teachers’ New York City local is using…

If only if this was the Redskins instead of the Jets. Photo courtesy of ESPN.

What’s happening in the dropout nation that doesn’t involve pigskin:

  1. In New York, Randi Weingarten’s successor as head of the American Federation of Teachers’ New York City local is using the language of Gary Orfield and Richard Kahlenberg in his opposition to the lifting of New York State’s charter school cap. In the Daily News , United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew declares that “charter schools are actually becoming a separate and unequal branch of public education”, citing the low levels of ELL students in some charters. Could it be that the parents of these students, mostly immigrants themselves, don’t have the sophistication or access to information about charters to make a different choice than send their kids to traditional public schools? Or could it be that, like parents of special ed students, ELL parents tend to think that traditional public schools can handle those children better than charters, even though the evidence of this is sparse (and often, would lean against that conclusion)? Mulgrew doesn’t ponder either of these matters. But certainly he wouldn’t. Mulgrew isn’t thinking about equality or integration. Or even about the kids under the care of his rank-and-file.  He’s thinking about the best interests of his union.
  2. Meanwhile in Albany, the notoriously dysfunctional state legislature is looking to strip the State University of New York of its power to authorize charters, according to Cara Matthews. This is the price Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (and his ally, the AFT’s New York State affiliate, which opposes charters altogether) hope to extract in exchange for lifting the cap on charters. As you would expect, Gov. David Paterson and charter school advocates oppose this exercise in school reform futility. This isn’t exactly New York’s Race to the Top.
  3. Even worse, as the New York Times , the New York City Department of Education, one of the most-aggressive charter authorizers, would also lose the authorizing role under the plan. Apparently, Silver and the AFT’s New York State local wants to make sure that either New York State is out of Race to the Top or that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his schools chief, Joel Klein, lose as much as possible under the plan. Although I am generally against allowing school districts to have authorizing power (mostly because they tend to never use it and keep out charters), New York City has been the exception and should keep the authorizing ability. As usual, this is typical teachers union/Sheldon Silver politics. Neither are worthy of respect.
  4. Meanwhile Paterson proposes to give SUNY and the City University of New York freedom from state budgeting, reports the Press & Sun-Bulletin. This includes allowing the universities to raise tuition without legislative approval. As I’ve noted in a 2008 Hechinger Institute report, such freedom tends to not work out well for college affordability or for expanding access to higher ed among poor students.
  5. As for higher ed, InsideHigherEd reports that public funding for state universities is on a “historic” decline. Now this depends on what you mean by decline. As their chart notes, higher ed funding has still increased by more than 19 percent (and a 29 percent increase, if you add federal stimulus funds into the equation). Cry me a river.
  6. San Diego Union-Tribune writer Dean Calbreath looks at the recent Alliance for Excellent Education, EdWeek and Bureau of Labor Statistics data and concludes that dropping out equals fewer job opportunities.
  7. The L.A. Times opines about the Matthew Kim teacher termination saga and concludes that the entire system of teacher hiring and compensation needs an overhaul.
  8. Speaking of teacher compensation: Battles over teachers pensions and retirement benefits are starting to heat up. Vermont is the battleground this time around. The NEA’s Vermont affiliate is already on the warpath.
  9. John Fensterwald reports on the growing opposition to Common Core Standards, especially among mathematicians. This battling over the value of a national curriculum — some would say it already exists — is going to be an undercurrent in the battle over the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act.
  10. Entrepreneur Sramana Mitra takes a look at how technology can be deployed to improve education.
  11. EducationNews‘ Michael Shaughnessy interviews Anthony Rao, who looks at how schools teach boys and girls and how it may contribute to the former’s achievement gap issues.
  12. Jay Mathews thinks the Brookings Institution’s recent study on education news coverage overstates the problem of mainstream reporting on ed news.
  13. Don’t forget to check out this week’s Dropout Nation podcast. The commentary focuses on the need to improve leadership throughout school districts. Sure, teachers unions are part of the problem. But leadership at the district and school levels are also the reasons why so many school districts are in academic and bureaucratic freefall.
  14. And given this is Martin Luther King day (and courtesy of Eduflack), don’t forget to listen to the famed ” Have a Dream” speech today. And remember, when it comes to education, we are far away from fulfilling either the dream and even further from the Promised Land. But we will get there soon.

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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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If it’s happening in the dropout nation, you can find it here. Updated continuously throughout the day (asterisks are next to new and updated items): Getting only half the story:…

Helpling with homework and attending the PTA is no longer the only part parents must play in their children's academic lives. They must also help in shaping their curricula -- and must have the tools and support to do so. (Photo courtesy of needsfoundation.org)

Helpling with homework and attending the PTA is no longer the only part parents must play in their children's academic lives. They must also help in shaping their curricula -- and must have the tools and support to do so. (Photo courtesy of needsfoundation.org)

If it’s happening in the dropout nation, you can find it here. Updated continuously throughout the day (asterisks are next to new and updated items):

  • Getting only half the story: Jay Bookman of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution is clearly no fan of the school voucher program being proposed by Georgia State Sen. Eric Johnson. Why? From his perspective… Actually, make that after talking to “teachers and administrators,” Bookman concludes that the single most important solution to student academic failure is parental involvement. And vouchers won’t, from his perspective, won’t help children with “uninvolved parents.” Bookman, however, should actually spend time with parents — both poor and middle-class — who are extraordinarily involved in shaping the academic careers of their students, who have found working with school bureaucrats and teachers to be, at times, rather unpleasant.
  • One of the issues not addressed by most education commentators is the reality that the school experience — that is, dealing with administrators and teachers who, due to gaining a number of graduate degrees  in education (whatever their value in terms of improving instructional training and subject-matter competency) can be, at best, intimidating. And from my own experiences with some teachers, there are a fair share of teachers out there who are just plain arrogant. If pu
  • This isn’t to say that there aren’t parents who just simply ignore their children’s educational — and ultimately, economic and social destiny. Nor is to say that civic society must play a strong role in helping poor parents (and even middle-class ones) make good school choices — a major issue in school choice that my fellow libertarians often fail to address — by creating advisory centers and parent education clinics. Nor can one say that private schools can, in the main, always do a better job of educating students than public schools; given that traditional public, public charter and private schools pull from the same schools of education — many of which are woefully inept in preparing teachers for real-world instruction – students in all three sectors may be getting shortchanged. But parents should have the right to shape their children’s academic destinies — and get the opportunities to do so. More than ever, this nation’s dropout crisis requires parents to play strong, active (and untraditional; no mere PTA participation and field trip malarkey) in guiding their children into productive adulthood.
  • An example of the struggles* faced by parents — especially poor ones — who want to improve the academic careers of their children can be found today in the AJC in a guest column by Lydia Glaize. Read on.
  • Perhaps you shouldn’t have gone to MIT — or Harvard: Charles Murray joins the ‘college doesn’t matter’ crowd in his latest piece in the Wall Street Journal. I can understand the argument Murray is making. But I would argue that all high school students need to attend some form of higher education — be it academic, technical or otherwise — immediately after they graduate high school (whether they need to finish is a different story). And given the demands of the knowledge-based economy, they will need to develop their own plans for lifetime learning once they get into the workforce. More importantly, as Kevin Carey might ask, can Murray — a renown author and scholar at the American Enterprise Institute — ever say he regrets going to college?
  • Two-thirds lost: Village Voice legend Nat Hentoff takes a thoughtful look at one of the most stubborn problems facing New York schools chief Joel Klein: Reversing one of the nation’s worst graduation rates for black males. And unlike another New York icon (yes, you, Sol Stern), he actually takes a more balanced view of Klein’s successes and challenges.
  • Meanwhile: The new graduation rate for the Big Apple is released, along with state numbers. If you believe the state numbers, 56 percent of the city’s graduating Class of 2007 garnered sheepskins.
  • And you can find another version of my piece on H-1B visas and school teachers at EducationNews.org.
  • Broader ain’t bolder. Or in Boulder*: Ken DeRosa and Jay Greene each give critique Broader, Bolder Coalition supporter (and UFT bigwig) Leo Casey’s defense of the anti-No Child Left Behind Act’s agenda. Your editor’s take: Although I will agree that there are numerous social issues that need to be dealt with, either through a civic society approach or a better attuning of the welfare state, schools really can’t fully address or mitigate those issues. They can, however, strengthen standards and curricula, improve their inadequate data systems, embrace more rigorous, information-driven instructional methods, recruit more effective teachers and spend more school time on instruction — none of which is done adequately now. Most importantly of all, they can elevate the expectations they have for all children, instead of the patronizing and shameful educational treatment of poor children embraced by Broader, Bolder. ‘We can’t educate these screwed-up children’ isn’t a mantra — or formula — for success.

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