Tag Archive for Education News

American Excellence Do Labels Like Uncle Tom or Acting White Stifle High Achievement

In the spirit of the NCAA college basketball tournament, ESPN aired a documentary on the bittersweet careers of University of Michigan’s “Fab Five.” During the documentary, former Michigan star, and current Huffington Post contributor, Jalen Rose expressed his feelings about his team’s rivalry with Duke when he said, “For me Duke was personal. I hated Duke and I hated everything I felt Duke stood for. Schools like Duke didn’t recruit players like me. I felt like they only recruited black players that were Uncle Toms.” Rose’s comments became fodder for those looking to emphasize the growing income and education gap amongst African-Americans Read more

A Land Where Hearts No Longer Break

If you believe our nation is basically sound, and if you believe fairness and opportunity are still universally available in America, I urge you not to watch a movie called Waiting For Superman. If you have any conscience at all, it will break your heart.
You will see the desperate decline and potential collapse of our public school system, considered by Thomas Jefferson to be absolutely essential to the survival of the American Republic. For the decline of public education is not merely an economic issue of competition with the Chinese. It is a moral issue at the core of what a nation with a heart owes its children and future generations.
In this movie you will see teachers failing to teach and students failing to learn Read more

Colo Principal Nixes Student Newspaper for Knowing Too Much

If you don’t have the luxury of watching student media all day, you might be operating under the misapprehension that bad journalism is what gets a student newspaper shut down. In fact, the opposite is true: most student reporters earn enemies in their administration by asking hard questions about important issues and telling the truth of what happened. In America’s schools, retaliatory censorship for good journalism is on the menu as frequently as cafeteria pizza.
And yet, even by that standard, what Principal Leon Lundie is attempting to do at Aurora, Colorado’s Overland High School is a travesty Read more

Why All Schools Should Require More PE

Are multiplication tables more important than our children’s health? Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell seems to think so. He vetoed a bill yesterday that would have required all elementary and middle school students in Virginia to participate in 150 minutes of physical activity a week, in addition to recess.
McDonnell says the bill is an “unfunded mandate,” according to The Washington Post, citing concerns about the cost of implementation. Other opponents worry about placing the burden of solving our country’s childhood obesity crisis on our public schools.
While these concerns are understandable, they don’t justify a veto Read more

Schools should help kids build robust mental models

What do op-eds, Squawk Box, and SimCity have in common? The are all examples of models–simplified systems that help us understand the world–mental models, financial models, and sociopolitical models.
I don’t read newspapers anymore. I glance at headlines, but head straight for the last page of several papers to read the opinion pieces. I find that I get enough of a news feed through my iGoogle page, mobile news, TV, and NPR Read more

School Bullying Empowering Bystanders

Recently I’ve taken a hard look at the advice we give to kids who are being bullied and challenged all of us who work on this issue to do better. Now I want to question the common advice we give bystanders. This is critical for two reasons; we rarely admit the complex role bystanders play in bullying and I’ve never seen us publicly acknowledge that often the reason bystanders don’t come forward is because they don’t have confidence in the adults to do what’s right.
Being a bystander:
It’s not like any of us look forward to the opportunity of confronting a bully, as we saw in the recent Dateline special. Ironically, it can often be harder to confront a bully we’re close to than someone we don’t know or don’t like Read more

Michelle Bachmann Ron Paul and Those Evil Public Schoolteachers

In what is most likely a sign of things to come in next year’s election, three Republican presidential candidates, albeit fringe candidates at the moment, ripped public schools during a homeschoolers convention in Des Moines Wednesday.
The Tea Party darlings threw red meat to a receptive crowd, which ate it up.
Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota noted that she homeschooled her five children and was not allowed to home school 23 foster children, thanks to the evil government.
Herman Cain, former Godfather’s Pizza CEO, said, “That’s all we want is for government to get out of the way so we can educate ourselves and our children the old-fashioned way.”
And then there’s Ron Paul.
Texas Congressman Ron Paul told the crowd government wants “absolute control” of the “indoctrination” of children.
“The public school system now is a propaganda machine,” Paul said, prompting applause from the crowd of hundreds of home schooling families. “They start with our kids even in kindergarten, teaching them about family values, sexual education, gun rights, environmentalism — and they condition them to believe in so much which is totally un-American.”
I don’t know what public schools Paul has been around, but the ones I have been around for the past half-century as a student, newspaper reporter, and teacher have generally been reflective of the community. Most teachers go to church, shop at Wal-Mart and Target, and spend almost no time thinking about how they can increase the level of indoctrination of the apparently empty vessels that fill their classrooms.
The teacher in the room next door to mine even listens to Rush Limbaugh every day during his lunch hour Read more

Detroits Reform Roller Coaster

The prevailing notion, at least nationally, is that Detroit is a lost cause. Families have been moving out of Detroit (and Michigan more generally) for years, one of the country’s preeminent research universities continues to lose graduates to big cities, a recent New York Times article about Detroit highlighted the failed attempt to reform the city’s education system, yet again, and the news from Lansing and Governor Rick Snyder isn’t making too many folks excited about the future. Ugh.
The organization I co-founded, The Generation Project, connects passionate community members with high-need public schools through a unique, web-based giving platform that allows donors to specify exactly how they’d like their donation to be used. Of the six geographic regions where we operate, Detroit is the region in greatest need Read more

Are Researchers and Policymakers Oil and Water

Last month I wrote a blog post about my lack of confidence in educational research, some of which strikes me as politicized. My basic point was that in some cases you could read only an author or think tank’s name and guess a study’s conclusions with a high degree of accuracy.
As you might imagine, the post created a stir. I had some stimulating conversations with Kevin Welner, a University of Colorado education professor and director of the National Education Policy Center, which I mentioned in my post. Our discussions were (to use diplomats’ language) frank and open and at their conclusion we decided this was an interesting enough topic to merit a broader conversation.
On Monday, we convened a group of nine people for a two-hour discussion about research, policy, politics and the media Read more

Democracy Day A Call to Action From Two High Schoolers

Ammaarah Khan and Ashley Garcia are two high school seniors coming from opposite ends of the country with one very important interest in common: They are counting down the days to cast their first ballots, just like thousands of other young people across the country. Forty years ago, students and educators joined forces and fought to give 18-year-olds the right to vote with the passage of the 26th Amendment, and today, Rock the Vote, in partnership with the National Education Association, is launching the first annual Democracy Day to invite thousands more young people to the conversation on the importance of civic engagement and voting. Rock the Vote briefly chatted with both Ammaarah and Ashley to find out what issues were most important to them.
Rock the Vote: What problems are facing your neighborhood that you would like to see improved?
Ammaarah Khan: New Jersey has been tightening its belt and cutting funds that impact education in all forms. In a town as large as Edison, these cuts hurt us Read more

Teaching to the Test

Spring parent-teacher conferences were held this morning at the school where I teach and my belief, that in my dozen years as a teacher I had heard everything, was shattered to the core.
“My son is worried about his scores,” a mother told me. I quickly reassured her she had nothing to worry about. Her son, who moved into the school district midway through the fall semester, has a solid A in my English class and is a skilled writer.
“He got A’s in all of his classes,” the mother told me.
I was having a hard time understanding the problem.
“He can’t figure out why he doesn’t do better on the ACUITY tests.”
“The ACUITY tests?”
“He received a C on the first one he took,” she said. “I told him to take his time on it last time and he made a B Read more

Common Sense and Jeb Bushs Seismic Path to Teacher Merit Pay

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush writes in a recent op-ed about the new teacher evaluation system just enacted by the Florida legislature. The law will link teacher jobs to student standardized test scores. He praises the move as “forging a seismic path for modernizing the teaching profession nationwide.”
Wow. Sure, Jeb’s kinda right Read more

A Civic Marshall Plan

Millions of Americans have now seen Waiting for “Superman”, the documentary showing that an excellent education for low-income children is often a matter of chance. Viewers watch with angst as numbers are pulled from jars, identifying the few children who will have a chance at a quality education to break the bonds of poverty. Some make it; most don’t.
The film is powerful — showing the persistence of parents, the value of effective teachers, the centrality of high expectations, the dangers of low-performing schools, and the growing skills gap that is threatening American competitiveness.
What the film does not provide are scalable solutions in our public schools where the vast majority of children are found.
Hope is on the way. After a decade of gloomy reports on the achievement gap, high school dropout epidemic, and more recently the college completion gap, progress is finally being made in some of the most unexpected places.
This week, we are releasing a report showing that over the last decade high school graduation rates have increased significantly across a majority of states and the number of high school “dropout factories” — those graduating 60 percent or less of their students — has declined by 373 schools, nearly a 20 percent improvement Read more

Educating the Next Generation of Innovators

On the last Program for International Student Assessment, a well regarded standardized test, students in Shanghai outscored their American counterparts in every subject. But it’s not just the Chinese we’re trailing; we ranked 23rd and 32nd, respectively, in science and math, well behind dozens of our international economic competitors. Additionally, the World Economic Forum ranks the United States 48th in quality of mathematics and science education.
Norman Augustine, lead author of the Congressional report, Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economy, believes that our public school system compares abysmally with those of other developed nations, particularly in the fields of science, mathematics and technology.
Along with engineering, these three disciplines represent the four pillars of STEM education. They also offer America our greatest hope of prosperity in the 21st century — a century that will be defined by the ability of our greatest innovators to solve our greatest problems in the quickest and most efficient way possible Read more

Teacher Layoffs Spring Rite or National Shame

Last week was Pink Slip Week in California. All over the state, teachers got notices through certified mail that they might be laid off. Teachers around the nation have been getting pink slips for weeks, and this year, the possibility is even larger that they will lose their jobs.
The two words, in the American lexicon, are never good Read more

Teacher Evaluations Dont Tell The Whole Story

It’s pretty easy for me to say that Mr. Callahan was the best teacher I ever had. Much more difficult is the task of explaining what exactly makes that so. The stakes for making such a claim seem rather high right now, too, as many of the prevailing education reform narratives involve teacher assessment — the identification and rewarding of great teachers and concomitantly, the elimination of the bad ones.
Many of these calls for “teacher accountability” tie teacher assessment to student assessment Read more

Segregated and Satisfied in the Southland

Southern California is one of the world’s most diverse, urbanized communities with people from every part of the globe, no racial majority, and a sense that it is way ahead of the rest of the country. Certainly it is in terms of a diversity of cultures, languages, music and cuisines, as well as the way its population foreshadows the transformation that is taking place now in the rest of the country.
In political terms, Southern California provided a large, progressive victory for the election of Barak Obama as president, and its first Latino mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa. Many places in Southern California pay homage to the region’s Mexican origins. People tend to be proud and satisfied about the region’s diversity and tend to think it is working out Read more

Children First

A couple of weekends ago, I found myself chatting with a local parent who was born and raised in Europe. Once we exchanged information about our careers, the conversation naturally turned to education, and recent news coverage of education issues:
“I have to say, I find this really strange. I feel sorry for you, those of you who work as teachers. Everything is about conflict, and cutting things Read more

Suing Preschool and Getting into Harvard Not

Every now and then along comes a story that’s just too good to be true. And such a story appeared in last week’s New York Times. Manhattan mom Nicole Imprescia is suing York Avenue preschool for failing to properly prepare her 4-year-old daughter Lucia for the Ivy Leagues.
Well, it’s not quite that direct Read more

Baltimore Leading Education Reform

Academia is filled with Doubting Thomases. Especially in education, skepticism prevails when you hear of innovative reforms taking place. Academic gains are scrutinized while sustainability is called into question. Slowly but surely, one district in particular is standing the test of time, Baltimore City Public Schools.
There is a strong desire to know more about a district that has accomplished the following: increased enrollment for three consecutive years after four decades of decline, cut their dropout rate in half, engaged parents and community leaders, increased student achievement, closed achievement gaps, settled a long lasting special education lawsuit, increased choice and types of schools, and created a new teachers contract that passed on a second vote by a 2:1 margin.
Last week over 1,600 concerned students, parents, teachers, administrators, and community activists gathered in Annapolis to protest education budget cuts Read more

Education Is Key to Winning the Future

The future belongs to those who best educate their young people. And right now, America has fallen behind. We know that education is key to winning the future and that, in order to compete, we need to challenge ourselves to improve educational outcomes. The countries that best educate their children will be the ones that win in the global marketplace Read more

Get Your Heads out of the Clouds Education Leaders

Our current discussion about public education offers two competing realities: those of the visionaries and their so-called reform ideas and the people who actually have to teach children each day.
There are teachers, of course, who find the time and energy to think about the long-term viability of what we do and how education overall could improve and there are those reformers who occasionally take pause from their visionary calculations to observe what is going on at a school or in a classroom–though not much it seems.
In his State of the Union, our president declared this generation’s “Sputnik moment” and called on young Americans to consider careers in teaching and there have been many subsequent calls for people young and old to heed that call. These appeals may have long-term logic but isn’t it just the slightest bit disingenuous to sound the call for Americans to become teachers just as the lay-off notices are being delivered?
It reminds me of a principal I once had. She was a visionary, always gushing with grand ideas for how our school could be better what our students could achieve and she truly did inspire many of us and kept us looking past the immediate disasters in which we were often immersed.
But she wasn’t very good at tackling those immediate disasters and so teachers and students often found ourselves groping for the teachable moments within the chaos.
One September a new science teacher went AWOL after two days of crowded classes in a sweltering room without adequate books or supplies — and the sub desk sent us a parade of inadequate replacements.
The classes of that now-unassigned science position descended into pandemonium as students, understanding the neglect being wrought upon them, became angry and unruly.

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Can Boys Succeed in Later Life If They Cant Read As Well As Girls

March is national reading month — and a good time to focus on some rather bleak news about the reading gap between boys and girls. From elementary through high school, males are reading at lower levels than females. This doesn’t bode well for future job opportunities for men or for the overall health of our workforce. I think this is an education crisis that is not receiving nearly the attention it ought to.
For the past four years, the Center on Education Policy has annually collected results from all 50 states on tests required for accountability under the No Child Left Behind Act Read more