Tag: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


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Read: Tuesday Morning Teacher Edition


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What’s happening in the dropout nation: – The Wall Street Journal‘s editorial board sniffs at the Ford Foundation’s school initiative. Given the foundation’s history of getting itself — and the…

Rarely seen: Black male teacher such as Brandon George. Also under that list: Teachers with strong subject-matter competency. More of both needed.

Rarely seen: Black male teacher such as Brandon George. Also under that list: Teachers with strong subject-matter competency. More of both needed.

What’s happening in the dropout nation:

– The Wall Street Journal‘s editorial board sniffs at the Ford Foundation’s school initiative. Given the foundation’s history of getting itself — and the entire philanthropic sector — in trouble in the school philanthropy arena, it may be best for Ford to stick to something more traditional.

Gotham Schools reports that New York State’s Education Commissioner and Board of Regents Chancellor wants to allow for the use of student test data in measuring teacher performance during the first two years of their careers before they attain tenure. This is essentially a revival of a law passed two years ago during the first year of former Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s tenure that was kibboshed a year later by the legislature and Gov. David Paterson last year at the behest of the state’s AFT affiliate. Nice idea. At least one study suggests that the teacher performance remains constant before and after tenure. But until tenure is eliminated and school districts actually take time to assess teachers, the proposal is rather meaningless. After all, some of the research so far also shows that teacher performance declines after they reach tenure.

– So far, this week, neither Kevin Carey nor Checker Finn have taken potshots at each other over whether stimulus funds should be used for saving teacher jobs. Unfortunately, neither side is focusing on the real problem: How to improve the quality of teaching in America’s schools. The stimulus debate, like the money, will eventually go away. The  impediments to improving teacher quality —  including woeful training at the ed school level, state policymaking that blocks effective performance management, poor selection of aspiring teachers who are both competent in their subjects and care about the children they teach, human capital policies that encourage teacher absenteeism, and lack of diversity in the teacher ranks — will still remain. It’s time for both of them to go back to their laudable work.

– Maureen Downey takes a look at the Florida ACLU suit and former Sunshine State governor Jeb Bush’s response. Hint: Another example of what happens when education statistics(accurate, maybe) and education statistics (unreliable, definitely) collide in public policy debates.

– The Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Brooke Dollens Terry takes a look at teacher quality in the Lone Star State. She isn’t impressed.

– EdSector’s Erin Dillon peruses Teachers College’s report touting desegregation. She not only finds that it lacks rigor, but it uses a “strawman” of free-market school reforms that doesn’t define which form (in the form of charter schools and other school choice measures) at the heart of their discussion. Ultimately, argues Dillon, the need is to ultimately improve the quality of education in every neighborhood in order to achieve true equity between majority-black , majority-Latino and majority white schools.

– The Boston Globe wants Massachusetts legislators to raise the dropout age to 18. Fine. Hopefully, the Globe editorial board will hold state officials accountable for improving curricula, teacher quality and opportunities for engaging students and parents as equal partners with teachers and principals. Increasing the dropout age alone won’t solve much of anything.

Jay Mathews joins Andy Smarick in advocating for shutting down dropout factories and other poor-performing schools.

– Sara Carr’s fascinating series about school choice in New Orleans offers a point I have been making for some time: School reformers must now focus on developing systems for giving parents the information and guidance they need to make decisions. This means improving the quality and delivery of school data — or simply put, let a thousand SchoolMatches bloom — and fostering grassroots organizations that can help parents make decisions.

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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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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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