Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The Carnival Of Education: Week 23

Welcome to the twenty-third edition of The Carnival Of Education. Here we have assembled a variety of interesting and informative posts from around the EduSphere that have been submitted by various authors and readers. As with other editions, those entries that were selected by us appear at the bottom of the page. We believe that this collection presents a wide spectrum of educational thought.

For those who would like to peruse editions 1-22 of the Carnival, readers will find a complete set of archives at the bottom of this post.

As always, the secret for having a well-attended Carnival is publicity. Please consider helping to spread the word. The more folks who know about this collection of exhibits, the more that will "drop-in" and visit the midway. Trackbacks, links, and mentions all help.

Thanks to the many folks who have mentioned our effort on their sites.

We would love to hear your comments, suggestions, and constructive criticism.

An Invitation: All writers and readers of education-related posts are invited to contribute to the twenty-fourth edition of The Carnival of Education. Please send your submissions to: owlshome[at]earthlink[dot]net. Contributions should be received no later than 10:00 PM (Eastern) 7:00 PM (Pacific) Tuesday, July 19, 2005. Barring no unforeseen circumstances, the Carnival's midway should open here at the 'Wonks next Wednesday morning.

Let's take a virtual stoll down the Carnival's midway...

The release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is imminent. But would you believe that there is a columnist for the Los Angeles Times who says that the adult readers of Harry's adventures are "Stupid, stupid, stupid?" Over at Mentor Matters, Mrs. Ris calls him out.

Isn't it sad that we teachers are often told that it's wise to not have any physical contact whatsoever with students? Kids are still kids and sometimes they need a hug, handshake, or a pat on the shoulder. In a recent post, the always readable Mr. Babylon
gives us his thoughts on the subject.

Nowadays, many high school guidance counselors are advising students to take both the S.A.T. and A.C.T. assessments and then submit the best scores to the colleges of their choice. And let's not forget the many students also take SAT II and the battery of Advanced Placement Exams. Plus, the parents of many students feel that their offspring must take "test prep" courses that aren't cheap. Number 2 Pencil puts the spotlight on all of this, and puts that light
on a family that wouldn't play the game!

For years, generations of Michigan residents could rely on graduating high school and then going straight into a high-paying job in one of Michigan's many industrial centers. Now, all that has changed. Since the 1970s, many of those jobs have been moving offshore. With the long-term viability of Michigan's industrial base clearly in crisis, Jenny D wonders why Michigan's public education system
isn't doing a better job preparing students to compete in the world economy.

A military family gets transferred to a new city. A mom makes an appointment to meet with an administrator to discuss her child's special needs. The administrator doesn't bother to show up, and the school's special education program is altogether unsuitable for the child, even though the teacher is obviously dedicated and hardworking. What's a mom to do? The Headmistress over at The Common Room shares with us
the story of her and her daughter. Here is a sample:
The lady in charge of the special ed. department made an appointment for me to meet with her and visit the classroom, and cheerfully assured me that they could easily meet the Cherub's needs in this classroom. I am reasonably sure that she was the same person I spoke to before we moved to town, because surely there couldn't be two such administrators! She confidently asserted that they could provide things I couldn't at home. At this a little warning bell went off. Since I hadn't told her what we did at home or my own background (I have some special education studies and experience under my belt), I wondered how she knew this. She went on to assure me that I was certainly doing the right thing, and suggested that I should probably enroll all my children in the local schools.
The CJR Daily is affiliated with The Columbia Journalism Review. One of CJR Daily's contributors, Samantha H., posits that many newspapers aren't doing a very good job of covering pre-kindergarten and early childhood education. Oftentimes, reporters who are writing stories are not supporting their assertions with research or expert opinion. In a bonus post, there is a reality check of The New York Times' coverage of the recent controversy regarding Philadelphia's requirement that high school students take a course in African-American history.

Me-ander is written by Muse, who is a teacher in Israel. In this week's entry, Muse takes a look at a question that
continues to be debated among educators: Should children be placed in homogeneous or heterogeneous ability groups?

Who can blame parents for wanting to get their children into the best public school that they can find? A recent post at Scholar's Notebook,
cautions readers to beware of bias when it comes to a certain article by the Minneapolis Star Tribune about public charter schools. Scholar advocates that parents should have freedom to choose the best public school available for their children, be it charter or traditional.

Is your school using the full potential of the world-wide web? At my California junior high, kids aren't allowed to write blogs or even use our "filtered" internet unless the teacher is, literally, watching over their shoulders. Clarence is a teacher who practices in northern Manitoba. The forward-thinking writer of Remote Access
introduces us to three web applications that may be useful to educators.

Dave Shearon uses a tale called "Biting Time," which is one installment of a collection of short stories about, of all things, a 1990s West Virginia town called Grantville that is transported back in time to 17th century Germany during the 30 Years War, in order to frame a post
about modern education. (Would this be the ultimate Kultur Shok?)

In America, the states have always had the most influence over the public education programs that are to be found within their boundaries. Mike, who is a classroom teacher, writes over at Education in Texas. In
a recent post, he lets us know who is behind the curtain pulling the strings on proposed legislation to increase "accountability" for educators. Any guesses who will gain financially from the new law?

And now for a lesson in applied mathematics from the folks over at Political Calculations. The subject of this week's lesson is
the true cost of that student loan you're considering. (The interest rate may be cheaper than that of your corner loan shark, but interest is still interest...)

As a California teacher, Darren is forced to pay monies to both the The California Teachers Association (CTA) and the National Education Association (NEA). His site, Right on the Left Coast, keeps an eye on these two organizations. In a two-parter, Darren examines some of what is found in the latest two issues of CTA's magazine, California Educator. See
part I here, and part II over there.

Should a national teachers union involve itself in issues that are outside of those related to salaries and working conditions? Over at Stop the Blackmail, they monitored NEA's most recent convention and are bringing to our attention the union's interest in an item that is clearly
not related to bread and butter issues.

Over at the website of the NEA, there is a column by a member who wrote some unkind words for those who homeschool children. David, over at Ticklish Ears
has the details as well as a link to an interesting (and snarky) letter to the column's writer, as well as his response!

Did you know that when non-English-speaking students are designated as proficient English speakers school districts often lose money? As a bilingual (Spanish/English) teacher, I can affirm that my own district is very reluctant to reclassify students and lose this money. Interested Participant
is telling us that in some other districts, educators are concerned that too many English learners are passing tests and costing their districts money.

Several writers have published posts about public schools selling their "naming rights" to private corporations and individuals. Spunkyhomeschool
has taken that idea one step further. (Why not? Everything else seems to be for sale...)

There is a proposal that is being discussed which states, essentially, that 65% of all education spending should be done in the actual classroom. The aim is to curb the ever-expanding educational bureaucracy. Crossblogging is
bringing to our attention one gubernatorial candidate in Illinois who advocates the idea as a method of avoiding an increase in taxes.

Recently, there were a number of posts about certain teachers' inappropriate classroom attire. Over at News, the Universe, and Everything, Quincy also believes that teachers need to dress professionally, but for
an altogether different reason.

Over the years, I've observed that children have a "built-in" competitive nature. Over at What It's Like on the Inside, they offer
a well-reasoned look at a recent article in the American School Board Journal that cautions against too much competition among students in the classroom.

Neelakantan, the writer of Interim Thoughts, tells us of a dilemma in his city of Bangalor, India. If the local schools emphasize the teaching of English, students will be in a better position to seek jobs in India's fast-growing technology sector. But when English is emphasized, the students' mastery of the ancient local language will suffer. What is the best balance?

Those beliefs and attitudes that we learn when we are young are often those that we are least likely to change. Austin C., who writes over at Agnosticism/Atheism Blog, asserts that children should be
taught to be skeptical and exercise critical inquiry from the youngest ages and throughout their school years.

Most educators would agree that a school principal plays a key role in any given school's success or failure. Over at Going to the Mat, they
are telling us about a program that the D.C. school system is using in order to train a new generation of educational leaders. (The children of the nation's capital deserve a great educational system; I hope that the program is successful.)

We are always excited when we learn of educators using blogs in the classroom. (Our California district doesn't allow kids to author school-sponsored blogs.) Dana over at Huffenglish,
has some good information for those educators who are working districts that support blogging.

Have you ever thought about what might be buried in the ground, right under your feet? Over at Rhymes With Right, Greg
is reporting how in London they have left a 14th century charnel house in situ right in the middle of a new structure. (But did they make any provisions for the ghosts?)

Writing over at Brown Bag Blog, Bucky reminds us that when teachers play with fire,
they get burned. In a bonus post, see an altogether different take on the term "highly qualified teacher."

Should public school teachers send their own children to public schools? And what is the exact number of public school teachers who choose to send their own children to private schools? Over at WILLisms,
they raise the issue with graphs and link to a report by the Fordham Foundation.

What's the most effective grading system that you've ever encountered? Over a Multiple Mentality, Josh
is telling us about a system that actually seemed to motivate students to strive for better grades. And, even more significantly, the system allowed students to compensate for one or more bad grades if they worked at it.

When should parents be able to send their children to the schools of their choice? Pamela, of Atlas Shrugs,
asserts that parents should receive vouchers and that nowadays the teaching of mathematics is just as much about social engineering as it is about numbers.

Have you ever been curious about what a typical day is like for a non-typical first-year law student? At My Back Pages, Scott Scheule, who teaches high school part time and has a Bachelor's in music,
gives us his schedule with some surprising twists.

And now for some entries that were selected by the editors:

Moebius, over at Tall Dark & Mysterious brings to our attention the fact that racism and bigotry come in all colors and from all different points of the political and geographical compass. (Be sure to follow the link that begins with the word loathsome...)

The gym at Ms. Frizzle's junior high school may be closed for much of next year for renovations, so they are looking for alternative P.E. activities. Being pro-active, Ms. Frizzle
made a few phone calls and discovered that the folks at American Ballroom Theater would be happy to teach kids ballroom dancing similar to Mad Hot Ballroom. The cost is only $4.00 per child. The problem? The school needs $6000 to pay for the whole program. Even $3000 would go a long way. Is there a kind-hearted reader or two that could help some New York City kids?

What happens when a Florida school district takes several underperforming schools, realigns the curriculum to stress the fundamentals, then insists on strict student and parent accountability? Answer: The schools have more applications than they can handle, and parents ask to be put on a waiting list. Both
Joanne Jacobs and Number 2 Pencil have the stories.

And finally, here at The Education Wonks, we humbly
submit for you consideration our post about the incredibly varied and unusual nicknames that America's high schools use for their sports teams.
Carnival Archives

The first edition can be seen here, the second, here the third, here the fourth, here, and the fifth, here the sixth, here the seventh, here the eighth, here the ninth, here the tenth, here the eleventh here the twelfth here, the thirteenth, here the fourteenth, here the fifteenth, here, the sixteenth, here the seventeenth, here the eighteenth, here the nineteenth, here, the twentieth, here, the twenty-first, here and the twenty-second, over there. To get to EdWonk's main page, (with a variety of education-related posts) please click here.