Tag: Sramana Mitra


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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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