Tag: New Orleans


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Read: Happy Holidays Edition


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Merry Christmas to each and every one of you and your families. And to those celebrating other holidays: Happy holidays to you and the ones you love. Here is what’s…

Christmas at the Waldorf-Astoria by RiShawn Biddle

Scenes of the Season: New York's Waldorf-Astoria at Christmastime

Merry Christmas to each and every one of you and your families. And to those celebrating other holidays: Happy holidays to you and the ones you love.

Here is what’s going on in the dropout nation:

  1. The NEA’s Los Angeles local is suing L.A. Unified over its school reform plans. John Fensterwald’s response? The suit is merely “an attempt to preserve dues-paying members.”
  2. By the way: Check out my latest report, this on the pressures forcing the American Federation of Teachers to make some (small) moves towards embracing school reform, in The American Spectator.
  3. Tom Vander Ark offers on the role of entrepreneurism in education and how it can improve education for all students. He also discusses some of the changes that need to come to education philanthropy.
  4. While some parents and teachers in the New York City borough of Queens are battling the closure of Jamaica High School, schools Chancellor Joel Klein isn’t backing down. Says he: “I would like to know — who would send their kid to a school that has a lower than 50 percent graduation rate. Well, if your kids wouldn’t go there, whose kids should go there?” He’s got a point.
  5. The Merced Sun-Star isn’t too thrilled with the California legislature’s struggle to pass a second round of Race to the Top-related legislation. Meanwhile, in Maryland, a former state board of education member accuses Gov. Martin O’Malley of being more-interested in teachers union votes than in take advantage of the federal money to improve academic achievement.
  6. And in Indiana, the state Department of Education has unveiled its plan for competing for Race to the Top dollars. It admits that it doesn’t meet many of the data system requirements. It will also require school districts to fully embrace reform in order to receive whatever RttT money the Hoosier State can muster. At least the state’s making some progress on the teacher quality front.
  7. For those looking for American Recovery and Reinvestment Act data on education stimulus spending, here is the state and program data for this month (in Excel spreadsheets).
  8. In Rochester, the mayor there wants to take over the city’s atrocious school district. He’ll likely have more success than his colleague in Milwaukee has had this year.
  9. At EducationNews, teacher Marion Brady accuses Arne Duncan, the charter school movement and education philanthropists of attempting to “hasten the destruction of… universal, free, public schooling.” But then, Brady offers suggested reforms that would fully alter traditional public education as we know it. Enjoy.
  10. Heritage Foundation’s Dan Lips reads Walter Williams’ discontent with graduation rates for blacks, then offers examples of how to improve educational achievement.
  11. The Economist discusses how technology disrupted the media business — in 1845. The interesting question for education policy types and teachers should be: What technologies will disrupt education policy as we know it today.
  12. U.S News & World Report looks at the role of post-Katrina New Orleans as the epicenter of the charter school movement and education reform. Slowly, the city’s education model is starting to resemble the Hollywood Model for education I touted some years ago.
  13. Edurati Review offers up its best posts of 2009. One of them: A well-thought explanation of why American public education must be reformed.

Sign up for the Twitter feed for up-to-the-minute news. Also, check out Dropout Nation’s featured reports:

  1. Making Families Consumers — and Kings — in Education
  2. Ability Tracking: Outmoded Idea in the New Education Paradigm
  3. Voices of the Dropout Nation: Walter Dozier on Education and Violence

2 Comments on Read: Happy Holidays Edition

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The Read


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All the news inside — and outside — the dropout nation. Updated throughout the day (new items and updates are marked with an *): Bad instruction + Bad parenting =…

At some point, Black America must say enough is enough when it comes to tolerating academic failure. The time must be now.

At some point, Black America must say enough is enough when it comes to tolerating academic failure. The time must be now.

All the news inside — and outside — the dropout nation. Updated throughout the day (new items and updates are marked with an *):

  • Bad instruction + Bad parenting = poor academic performance: How poorly did San Francisco’s black students in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th grade perform on the latest round of state tests? Reports the San Francisco Chronicle: “Special education students had slightly higher proficiency rates than black students in second-, third- and fourth-grade math as well as fourth-grade English.” No wonder why black middle class residents who can afford to move to Silicon Valley or to cities with better-performing school systems, do so. Educational genocide at work, dear folks. And this must stop.
  • Meet one of L.A. Unified’s worst dropout factories: Just north of Compton and near the famed Hancock Park, Jefferson High School has been blessed with a beautiful Art Deco building and an alumni list that includes diplomat extraordinaire Ralph Bunch, dance impresario Alvin Ailey and saxophonist Dexter Gordon. But the school has become more notorious for schoolyard brawls, being at the center of the battle between the district and charter school outfit Green Dot schools (which opened five charter schools surrounding Jefferson in response to parent complaints about the school) and pervasive academic failure. And during the 2006-07 school year, it has garnered the status of being one of the state’s worst dropout factories, according to the Associated Press. Six out of every ten freshmen leave school without a sheepskin, making it the worst-performing dropout factory among the academic roach motels run by L.A. Unified.
  • Public school choice? What public school choice*: Parents and students in Washington, D.C.’s woeful public schools just got notices that they qualify for the public school choice option under No Child, by which they can transfer from one failing school to a better one. But as the Washington Post reports, the parents already know that the choices they face in the school system are grim to none. And the notifications come out so late that the options aren’t available at all. As I’ve mentioned last week, public school choice doesn’t exist for most parents and students in any form.
  • Building for nothing: Back in 2001, Milwaukee Public Schools embarked on a $102 million building spree in order to create local schools and in order to eschew the more destructive elements of school busing. This despite the fact that the district, like so many urban systems, has seen three decades of declining enrollment. The results, as reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in a three-part series, is, well, predictable: Students are still being bused to schools outside their respective neighborhoods; new additions and old buildings are sitting half-empty or — for the shame of the district — being rented out to private schools. And combo efforts such as building a church alongside another public school has gone awry, with both students and parishioners taking the hit.
  • The Milwaukee schools experience offers another reason for a new model: Over the past three years, I’ve floated something I call the Hollywood model for public education under which local school districts would move from becoming operators of schools and masters of academic instruction — a job which many people argue (and the evidence suggests), they don’t do so well — to becoming a dormitory authority similar to the state agency used in New York state to build colleges. Similar to the major motion picture studios (which rarely produce films, but focus on distribution and finance), school district would construct buildings, provide school lunch services and handle transportation services on behalf of public charter schools and private schools(none of which have the scale to do those jobs efficiently). The charter schools and private schools would become, essentially, become like small-shingle Hollywood studios, handling the instructional work that districts used to do. This embraces public education as being a system of financing the best options for every student, no matter their race or income, while maximizing the public dollars that are in place. The reality is that public school districts are actually pretty good in constructing buildings and moving people around, not so good at academic instruction or data systems. A Hollywood model of education may not be such a bad idea after all.
  • Speaking of building: Public school officials in New Orleans plans on building 28 new school buildings while selling off or otherwise jettisoning 50 others as part of a $685 million plan funded by FEMA funds, according to the Times-Picayune. The key part of the plan: A separate authority that would essentially build and manage the buildings on behalf of both the existing traditional public school system, the Recovery District of charters and traditional public schools run by the state and other entities. Essentially, this could be the Hollywood model at work — if the penchant of officials for corruption and sleaze  doesn’t trump the goal of efficient building.
  • Better middle schools, New York style: The Daily News offers some suggestions on middle schools that aren’t “middle of the pack.” Check it out.
  • A challenge*: Jay Greene asks the Broader, Bolder crowd to put their words to practice by coming up with a test model of their proposed community school concept. Save for Leo Casey’s response and a small missive from Lawrence Mishel, no response has been forthcoming from the group in response to other criticisms of their anti-accountability plan.
  • From my end*, Broader, Bolder is right to note that a better approach to the current public welfare system — one that offers some form of wrap-around help for families in need — is probably needed for the children coming out of poverty-minded homes. But schools cannot abdicate their responsibility for educating these children and preparing them for higher education and life. Good teachers can overcome other socioeconomic problems. But good instruction and rigorous curricula must first be provided by schools in order for this to happen.
  • And feel free* to check out my latest piece for The American Spectator, this time, on how Reason magazine’s rating of Chicago as the most nanny-statelike city in America doesn’t fully consider all the problems of the City of Broad Shoulders. For most people, the Second City’s status as first in the nation when it comes to corruption — along with its underperforming schools — is far more disconcerting than its anti-liberty coddling and toddling.

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