Tag: This Week in Education


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The Read is Fundamental


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More Arne Duncan hoopla: Alexander Russo hits up his friends at Catalyst Chicago for more data on the Secretary of Education-Designate and finds him lacking. As always. Joanne Jacobs hopes…

More Arne Duncan hoopla: Alexander Russo hits up his friends at Catalyst Chicago for more data on the

A key to stemming dropouts can be found in a series of bound volumes. Read to your children -- and to the kids that aren't your offspring.

A key to stemming dropouts can be found in a series of bound volumes. Read to your children -- and to the kids that aren

Secretary of Education-Designate and finds him lacking. As always. Joanne Jacobs hopes Duncan will actually live up to expectations from the school reform movement.

Darling-Hammond: Still lurking: Mike Petrilli speculates that the Obama adviser may land inside the Department of Education anyway — this time overseeing the National Center for Education Statistics and all important What Works Clearinghouse as head of the Institute of Education Sciences. This is all just guessing. But if true, then putting the wolf in charge of the henhouse may have never been so wrongheaded. After all, Darling-Hammond is no Joe Kennedy and IES is not the SEC.

And more Petrilli: This time, teaming up with the Grand Pubah of the conservative end of the school reform movement to propose another federal path for education reform. One part of this ‘fourth way’ — using federal dollars to encourage states to pursue systemic overhauls and experiments — seems similar in a way to Andy Rotherham’s proposal last month to encourage innovative reforms. On the other side, the proposals to eliminate No Child’s school transfer, teacher quality, school sanctions and testing rules means that Petrilli and Finn are all but calling for a gutting of the law. More analysis later, but one can expect the EdTrust/EdSector/rest of us wing to first think: “With school reform allies like these…”

Dropping out early and often: A third of dropouts leaving the Rowan-Salisbury school district are freshmen, reports the Salisbury Post. Of course, these aren’t 15-year-olds, but 16-year-olds who never earned enough credits to move on to sophomore year. At the same time, the North Carolina school district seems to have another problem: So-called “career and college tech” tracks that allow students to evade a strong, useful college prep education that, by the way, can be used by those who want to go into welding or other skilled trades. The students don’t take Algebra II, even though the course teaches math skills used in manufacturing. High dropouts. Unchallenging curricula. What a formula for success.

Eduwonkette should lighten up: So writes EdSector’s Erin Dillon in response to the blogger’s tirade over the Washington Post’‘s fine series on the performance and governance of the Beltway’s charter schools. Dillon is particularly amazed that Eduwonkette — no pal of school choice or education reform — would use the American Federation of Teachers’ notoriously rubbish 2004 report on charter schools, which attempted to make conclusions that no one could actually reach based on the actual data itelf. Attempting to use broad national data to criticize a news organization’s report on one local school district is, umm, destined to be embarrassing for the person who does so.

And yes, Dropout Nation is back. Check out the sister Web site for some of the work that has kept your occasionally haggard editor away for a while.

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The Read


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All there is to know in the dropout nation. Updated throughout the day (updates and new stories are *): No standard left behind: As large a role poor instruction plays…

These kids need to be back in school, not in truancy court. So let's help keep them there.

These kids need to be back in school, not in truancy court. So let's help keep them there.

All there is to know in the dropout nation. Updated throughout the day (updates and new stories are *):

  • No standard left behind: As large a role poor instruction plays in fueling the dropout crisis and the nation’s overall crisis of low academic achievement, another can be found in efforts by many school districts to essentially water down academic standards set at the state and federal levels. From social promotion of laggard students (when they should be left back and given different teachers and instructional settings that fit their learning styles) to grade inflation, school districts engage in the kind of, well, let’s call it fraud that would lead to prison sentences if it were consider criminal offenses. Essentially, the districts are arguing that they are improving academic performance when all they are really doing is providing children with a slipshod education. So the report by the Dallas Morning News that teachers are annoyed at such an attempt by officials in the city’s Independent School District is both wonderful and disheartening to hear. The former, because teachers are being serious about their job. The latter? Because the district is up to the old nasty tricks again.
  • When math teachers aren’t being well-instructed to teach math: The National Council on Teacher Quality released a study earlier this year on the woefully inadequate math instruction training by almost all of the 77 schools of education it surveyed. Now George Leef of the Pope Center offers some pointers on how math instruction must be reformed in order to improve the poor math performance of America’s students.
  • Speaking of math (and immigration and teachers and H-1B): At Free Trade Nation, your editor analyzes one immigration skeptic’s criticism of the “H-1B Education” piece that ran earlier this week in The American Spectator.
  • Teacher pay reform on sight: Kevin Carey gives a full report on the battle between new D.C. schools chief, Michelle Rhee, and the lackluster district’s teachers union over a teacher pay reform plan. Rhee may actually be winning over the younger (and more performance-oriented) teachers. But, while Carey is more optimistic about the results, I would argue that being the head of a school district within the nation’s capital — with a bevy of Democrat congressmen and senators who collect donations from the two major teachers unions – is no easy task; succeeding in winning salary reform may lead to a Congressional edict that will end the plan altogether.
  • Speaking of Carey: Alexander Russo takes a shot at him for arguing with the Broader, Bolder gang. Although I understand Russo’s complaint that so many ed policy types aren’t as willing to engage in the dirty work of reforming schools in order to improve the education of poor kids, I would argue that the fact that Broader, Bolder includes the ones who do doesn’t mean that they are on the right side.  The latter, after all, is arguing for letting schools off the hook for their rather sizeable role in perpetuating the nation’s dropout crisis.

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