Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Let There Be Carnivals!

The 104th midway of The Carnival of Education (hosted this week by Carol over at The Median Sib) has opened its turnstiles with a variety of exhibits and sideshows from across the EduSphere.

For extra credit, checkout what the homies are up to over at this week's edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling.
See our latest EduPosts.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Thank You 600,000 Times!

At 10:23 PM, an Unknown Visitor from Jenny D. became the 600,000th visitor to our site.

We wish that we could thank each and every one who has taken a few moments out of their busy schedule in order to drop in and visit with us.

See our latest EduPosts.

Carnival Entries Are Due!

Entries for the 104th midway of The Carnival Of Education (hosted this week by us Carol over at The Median Sib.) are due today. Please email them to: carol [at] the mediansib [dot] com . (Or use this handy submission form.) Submissions should be received no later than 6:00 PM (Eastern), 3:00 PM (Pacific). Contributions should include your site's name, the title of the post, and the post's URL if possible.

Visit last week's midway, hosted by us here at The Wonks, right here.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, the exhibits should open Wednesday.
See our latest EduPosts.

The Watcher's Council Has Spoken!

Each and every week, Watcher of Weasels sponsors a contest among posts from the Conservative side of the 'Sphere. The winning entries are determined by a jury of 12 writers (and The Watcher) known as "The Watchers Council."

The Council has met and cast their ballots for last week's submitted posts.

Council Member Entries: American Future took first place with On the Possibility of an Embargo of Iranian Oil. (Ed's Note: We don't think that there is any possibility of an embargo. The United States has refused to take decisive action against this outlaw regime Iran ever since the mullahs sanctioned the abduction of our embassy personnel nearly 30 years ago. Why would we change practices now?)

Non-Council Entries: INDC Journal garnered the most votes with “Because the Language They Use Is Killing”.
See our latest EduPosts.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Wonkitorial: Setting The Goal Post Back Yet Again

U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings has begun the push for the reauthorization of The No Child Left Behind Act:
U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings kicked off a national dialogue today in Chicago with top business leaders, students, teachers, and school officials to promote Building on Results: A Blueprint for Strengthening the No Child Left Behind Act. The Secretary's visit to Chicago comes on the heels of President Bush's call in his State of the Union Address for Congress to reauthorize the law.

"Higher standards and greater accountability, more rigorous coursework for high school students, and innovative, new options and choices for families are the core components to ensuring that all students are able to learn and achieve,"
Read the whole press release.

As is usual with the Secretary's utterances, there were plenty of remarks about the need for schools to be held to ever-higher standards of perfomance, but not one word about the need for students to also work harder in order to acheive their own academic success.

And that's the problem with NCLB.

There's plenty of "accountability" for teachers and lower-level school administrators, but none whatsoever for students or parents
See our latest EduPosts.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Slaughter Of The Innocents

Students and staff of a Baghdad girls school have been caught up in the crossfire of the Iraqi Civil War:
Mortar shells rained down Sunday on a girls' secondary school in a mostly Sunni area of western Baghdad, killing four pupils and wounding 21, witnesses and police said. At least seven other people died in a series of bombings and shootings across the capital.

The mortar attack occurred about 11 a.m. at the Kholoud Secondary School in the Adil neighborhood of western Baghdad. Several projectiles exploded in the courtyard of the school, shattering windows in the classrooms and spraying pupils with shards of glass. Pools of blood smeared the stone steps and walkways.

Hours after the attack, grieving parents wept as the bodies of the victims were placed inside wooden coffins.

It was unclear who fired the mortars, but the area has been the scene of reprisal attacks by Sunni and Shiite extremists that have persisted as U.S. and Iraqi soldiers prepare for a massive security crackdown.
In an effort to protect their children from the increasing violence, many Iraqi parents are now keeping their children home rather than permitting them to attend classes.
See our latest EduPosts.

Friday, January 26, 2007

The School Of Silence

A Warwick, Rhode Island Catholic school has adopted a new policy requiring students to be silent while they eat their lunch:
A Roman Catholic elementary school adopted new lunchroom rules this week requiring students to remain silent while eating. The move comes after three recent choking incidents in the cafeteria.

No one was hurt, but the principal of St. Rose of Lima School explained in a letter to parents that if the lunchroom is loud, staff members cannot hear a child choking.

Christine Lamoureux, whose 12-year-old is a sixth-grader at the school, said she respects the safety issue but thinks the rule is a bad idea.

"They are silent all day," she said. "They have to get some type of release." She suggested quiet conversation be allowed during lunch.

Another mother, Thina Paone, does not mind the silent lunches, noting that the cafeteria "can be very crazy" at the suburban school south of Providence.

Principal Jeannine Fuller did not immediately return a call seeking comment, but a spokesman for the Diocese of Providence described the silence rule as a temporary safety measure.

Spokesman Michael Guilfoyle said the school does not expect complete silence but enough quiet to keep students safe.

Lori Healey, a teacher at the school who also has a son in third grade, said "silent lunch" means students can whisper.
There's more to read over there.

Expecting youngsters to be "silent" while eating lunch is like expecting a politician to tell the truth or be silent.

It's not gonna happen.

See our latest EduPosts.

NOLA Needs Teachers: (And It's No Wonder Why!)

One would have to be a Saint in order to go and serve in the public schools of hurricane-crime-corrupt-and-poverty-ridden New Orleans:
Wanted: Idealistic teachers looking for a Peace Corps-style adventure in a city in distress.

Some of New Orleans' most desperate, run-down schools are beset with a severe shortage of teachers, and they are struggling mightily to attract candidates by appealing to their sense of adventure and desire to make a difference. Education officials are even offering to help new teachers find housing.

"There's been an incredible outpouring of sympathy toward New Orleans. We feel we're trying to say, 'Here's a clear path to go down if you want to act on that emotion,"' said Matthew Candler, chief executive of the nonprofit New Schools for New Orleans, which is trying to recruit teachers.

The school system in New Orleans was in desperate condition even before Hurricane Katrina struck 17 months ago, with crumbling buildings, low test scores and high dropout rates.

After the storm, some of the worst of the worst public schools were put under state control, and those are the ones finding it particularly hard to attract teachers. The 19 schools in the state-run Recovery School District have 8,580 students and about 540 teachers, or about 50 fewer than they need. About 300 students who want to enroll have been put on a waiting list until another school opens.

"Recruiting is a challenge," said Kevin George, principal of Rabouin High School in downtown New Orleans. "The housing market is terrible. The area has a poor image due to the violence. ... And then there's just coming into a place that historically had just a terrible track record of education."
Read the whole thing.

Within days of Hurricane Katrina, most of New Orlean's public school teachers were laid-off without pay. Subsequently, many were forced to leave the area and haven't returned.

Of those who have been hired to fill teaching vacancies, about one-half have failed to pass a required test of basic skills, while one-third have no certification.
See our latest EduPosts.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Carnival Of Education: Week 103

Welcome to the 103rd edition of The Carnival Of Education! We are delighted that the Midway has returned home after a sustained road trip.

This week's collection of exhibits from around the EduSphere represents a very wide variety of political and educational viewpoints. Unless clearly labeled otherwise, all entries were submitted by the writers themselves.

If you have a website and are interested in hosting an edition of The Carnival Of Education, please let us know via this email address: edwonk [at] educationwonks [dot] org.

Thanks to everyone who helped spread the word about last week's midway over at Dr. Homeslice. As always, links to this midway are much appreciated while trackbacks are adored. Visit the Carnival's archives here and see our latest EduPosts there.

Next Week's Carnival midway will be hosted by Carol over at The Median Sib. Writers are invited to send contributions to: carol [at] the mediansib [dot] com , or use this handy submission form. Carol should receive them no later than 6:00 PM (Eastern) 3:00 PM (Pacific) Tuesday, January 30th. Please include the title of your post, and its URL, if possible. Barring unforeseen circumstances, the midway should open next Wednesday morning.

Let the free exchange of thoughts and ideas begin!


The touchy subject of merit pay for teachers is
the subject of a post by The Colossus of Rhodey which examines several different aspects of this hot EduTopic.

Now that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have declared their intentions, Alexander Russo's This Week in Education takes a look at what their respective candidacies mean for education. Read about Obama
here and Clinton there.

When it comes to EduPolicy, Ken DeRosa of D-Ed Reckoning often has strong opinions that are thought-provoking. In
this week's contribution, De-Rosa takes a look at the design of educational programs and curricula. Here's a sample:
For example, most educational programs and curricula are poorly designed. Teacher designed curricula are some of the worst offenders in this regard because teachers are novices when it comes to curricular design. They will unwittingly reveal this when they say things like the frequent canard that "not all programs work with all kids." That's unwitting code for "I don't know a thing about instructional design."
As a parent, practicing educator, or interested citizen, have you ever considered how much instructional time a child loses (while in school) during the course of an entire year? Thespis Journal has, and the result may very well come as a surprise to most.

While we're on the subject of lost instructional time, take a look at the types of
unnecessary disruptions that occur to classroom teachers on an all-too-often basis. (And folks who've never taught wonder why those who do feel so frustrated?)

One of the strengths of the public charter school is the relatively free-hand that it gets when it comes to the administration of disciplinary consequences to those students who disrupt the education process. Edspresso
shows us why the type of student discipline found in many charter schools may not be feasible in more traditional public school settings.

Sex Education is nearly-always a controversial topic among educators and the public alike. Bajillion
has a look at a sex-ed curriculum in Washington State as well as a variety of hot-button issues including abstinence-only policies, double standards, and stereotyping. Judge this one for yourself!

Teaching And Learning:

Who is the best school teacher in the country? That's a tough question to answer for a variety of reasons. One name that has been put forward is that of Los Angeles teacher Rafe Esquith, who has been receiving quite a bit of attention in the MSM. Joanne Jacobs
takes a balanced look at Mr. Esquith, as well as the type of driven-to-succeed work ethic that he exemplifies.

New York City-based teacher Nani of Se Hace Camino Al Andar recently attended a workshop on teaching students about the Holocaust and and came away with
some ideas for engaging students while teaching this sad chapter of the Human Experience.

Former special education teacher Karen of The Thomas Institute links to, and comments upon, a recent well-publicized piece by Charles Murray on the "state of education." Here's a sample from the
first installment of her three-part series:
And one of the most surprising and disturbing things that I learned was that it is not the job of the special ed. department to help children like Girl with 88 IQ. Did you just say, "What?" or maybe, "She doesn't know what she's talking about!" Well, it was explained to me that the job of the special ed. department is to help children with learning disabilities. (Evidently, low intelligence by itself is not a learning disability.
When it comes to teaching young children, don't forget the fun that can be had with poetry, and especially Lewis Carroll's immortal "Jabberwocky." (Disc. We're BIG Carroll fans; see the quote at the top of this page.)

From The Classroom:

NYC Educator teaches in the New York City Public School System. Educator is telling us all about the Petty Tyrant EduCrat who allowed a hurt child to bleed
until the necessary hall pass was obtained. Only then was the kid put into an ambulance and rushed to the hospital...

Down in Texas, they've been having more than their share of "wintry" weather lately. Check-out this teacher's
eyewitness account of the chaos that was to be found in the Dallas public school system. The cause? An administration that seemed incapable of making any sort of decision.

Some students in the high school where teacher Dana Huff works went on a trip through the heart of the Deep South. As is so often the case, the students produced a video of their journey. In what may come as a surprise to many, the students
shared the video with their teacher!

Teaching in the Twenty-First Century has
the pros-and-cons about having students split into small groups and attempt to invent their own board games. In this bonus post (that we've selected) Teaching also wonders if it would be a good idea to require those college students who are studying teacher-education to do a little substitute teaching themselves.

Inside This Teaching Life:

Would you believe that Jane of Scheiss Weekly is teaching a class that has students with real-life names such as Ginger, Mary Ann, Skip, and two Howells?
Believe it! (And can you just guess what the students call her?)

Next week's Carnival of Education host Carol of The Median Sib attended a workshop that was called "Quality Teaching in a Culture of Coaching" but really should have been named "
The Thing From Hell's Kitchen. "

As teachers, it seems as though we're always being tasked with completing paperwork that seems to be designed for the sole purpose of making someone else's job easier. Over at 3σ → Left, IB a Math Teacher just received such a form from a "Licensed Psychologist" that featured some 200 questions. Instead of suffering in silence, Math Teacher says what soooo many of us would like to say
in those same circumstances.

What constitutes a "good" teacher? While the definition may very from person-to-person and teacher-to-teacher, we think that most would agree that Joan over at Daddy's Roses has
hit the nail on the head. In a bonus post (that we included) related to the federal No Child Left Behind Act, Daddy's Roses has asked the question that is on the mind of so many educators who actually do work with kids on a daily basis.

HUNBlog has some worthy resolutions for the New Semester, but it's those closing comments
that apply to us all!

A reader submits a post which illustrates just one of the innumerable ways teachers often
get punished for doing the right thing.

School Governance:

Education in Texas shows us the
potential for disaster when a school doesn't trust its own employees with the vital information that is needed to safeguard students' safety.

a brief comparison of New York City's public school system and that of Chicago.


Trivium Pursuit
proposes an idea that may have applications not only for those who homeschool but to just about everyone: Having the kids keep an illustrated journal and then sharing it each week with the family.

Life Without School ponders a question that many parents who consider homeschooling their children end-up asking themselves:
Do Homeschooled Kids "Miss Out"?

Of Interest To Parents:

This contribution by Melissa Wiley of The Lilting House gives us
an inside view of an I.E.P. meeting with school personnel. (Recommended reading for anyone who has a child with special needs or is interested in learning more about the processes and procedures that are involved in this most important of parent-teacher conferences.)

Scott Elliott of The Dayton Daily News' EduBlog Get on the Bus
introduces us to an organization called Safe Routes To School. This California-based group advocates letting children walk to school for the purpose of, among other things, "promoting livable communities."

Here's a post whose title says it all:
Making Time for Your Child's Teacher.

Higher Education:

When it comes to discerning between diploma mills and legitimate online education providers, Who Learns has
some good advice for those who are thinking about taking advantage of this new method of instruction.

Dr. Madeline Daniels sounds
the clarion call for fundamentally changing the ways in which our colleges and universities approach teaching and learning.

Restructuring higher education is also the subject of a contribution by The Psychology of Education,
who assert that colleges are not adequately preparing students for the challenges of the new century.

Here's whimsical short video that
well-illustrates the college application process. (The musical accompaniment is priceless!)

Here's a list of the
ten toughest colleges for high school graduates to get into.


And now it's time to play.....
The Math Game! (Brought to you by the folks over at Let's Play Math. The entire site is a resource for teachers!)

Until I read
this post, I had no idea that Google was planning to "scan-in millions of books and allow readers to enjoy them at their leisure while sitting in their pajamas." (Sounds to us like this will be good for both Google and The Pajamas...)

Internationally Speaking:

In Wales,
they've decided that they will have to learn to live without The Test.

If California math teacher Darren of Right on the Left Coast ever gets tired of teaching in The People's Republic of California, I guess he could always
run away to Hong Kong. (Don't miss checking out those "appearance expectations." Just follow the sign link at the bottom of the post.)

submitted for your consideration is our entry, in which we expose the Taliban's plan to "reconquer and restructure" Afghanistan's school system. This terrorist organization's aim is to impose their own peculiar brand of "education" on the children of that long-suffering nation.

Inside the Blogs:

Over at AFT's NCLBlog,
they've been doing some reflection on the nature of EduBlogging, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

In a post that's certain the provoke thought, Charles Jine asserts that liberal education (in the classic sense) has died and
gives his prescription for its resurrection.

See what happens when a student spends time
playing games on his calculator instead of paying attention in math class.

And finally: This, like most of our journeys around the EduSphere, has been both enjoyable and informative. Our continued thanks to all the contributors whose submissions make the midway's continuing success possible, the folks who donate their time to help spread the word, and the readers who continue to make it A Free Exchange of Thoughts and Ideas
This midway is registered at TTLB's carnival roundup. See our latest EduPosts here, and the complete Carnival archives (soon to be updated) over there.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Education In Afghanistan: Running In Reverse

The Taliban is announcing that it will open its own peculiar type of "school" throughout Afghanistan:
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- The Taliban said it will open its own schools in areas of southern Afghanistan under its control, an apparent effort to win support among local residents and undermine the Western-backed government's efforts to expand education.

The announcement follows a violent campaign by the fundamentalist Islamic group against state schools in the five years since its ouster by U.S.-led forces. The Taliban destroyed 200 schools and killed 20 teachers last year, and President Hamid Karzai said Sunday that 200,000 children had been driven from the classroom.

Abdul Hai Muthmahien, the purported chief spokesman for the militants, said the group will begin providing Islamic education to students in March in at least six southern provinces, funded by $1 million from the Taliban's ruling council.

He said education would be available to boys first and later to girls, but he did not explain if there had been a change in Taliban thinking about schooling girls. During its rule, it banned girls from schools in Kabul, the capital, although elsewhere it sometimes permitted their schooling until age 8, but only to study the Koran.

"The U.S. and its allies are doing propaganda against the Taliban," Muthmahien said via telephone from an undisclosed location late Saturday. "The Taliban are not against education. The Taliban want Shariah [Islamic] education."

The UN mission in Afghanistan derided the announcement, saying it could not be taken seriously.
Not too long ago, the Taliban (and their hate-filled ideology) was in full retreat.

They're back.

And they are getting stronger.

If nothing is done to stop them, the Taliban will obtain its goal of returning the entire nation of Afghanistan to the 7th century.
Carnival of Education entries are due today. See our latest EduPosts.

Carnival Entries Are Due!

Entries for the 103rd midway of The Carnival Of Education (hosted this week by us here at The Education Wonks.) are due today. Please email them to: owlshome [at] earthlink [dot] net . (Or use this handy submission form.) Submissions should be received no later than 9:00 PM (Eastern), 6:00 PM (Pacific). Contributions should include your site's name, the title of the post, and the post's URL if possible.

Visit last week's midway, hosted by Dr. Homeslice, over there.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, the exhibits should open Wednesday.
See our latest EduPosts.

The Watcher's Council Has Spoken!

Each and every week, Watcher of Weasels sponsors a contest among posts from the Conservative side of the 'Sphere. The winning entries are determined by a jury of 12 writers (and The Watcher) known as "The Watchers Council."

The Council has met and cast their ballots for last week's submitted posts.

Council Member Entries: Rhymes With Right took first place with MLK Day -- A Singular Holiday.

Non-Council Entries: Small Wars Journal garnered the most votes with A Framework for Thinking About Iraq Strategy.
See our latest EduPosts here.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Extra Credit Reading: Monday, January 22, 2007

Joanne Jacobs links to and comments upon a proposed federal law that would encourage the adoption of "voluntary" National Standards in math and science. (We smell another unfunded mandate by the Central Government.)

Dear Silly School Administrator: Please don't choke the chickens the students.

Dr. Albert Schweitzer give us the Quote of the Day: "Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into a flame by another human being. Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light."

The Non-Sequiturs Of The Day: A visiting history professor from Britain has learned that jaywalking in Atlanta can have some unexpected consequences. And who would have thought that today is the most miserable day of the year?
See our latest EduPosts.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Rewarding Bad Behavior

A student-loan company improperly collects millions in fees. Instead of prosecuting the villains and forcing them to pay restitution, the U.S. Department of Education lets the malefactors keep the money:
The Bush administration reached an accord with a student loan company that will let it keep $278 million in subsidies that the inspector general of the Education Department found improper, the department said yesterday.

Under the agreement, the department will suspend future payments of more than $800 million, in addition to the $278 million paid to the company, Nelnet, until an audit determines whether the company was eligible for the money.

The inspector general’s office said Nelnet billing practices could lead to its receiving that much in overpayments.

Under Secretary of Education Sara Martinez Tucker said the department had decided not to recover past payments because such a precedent might require it to pursue other loan companies, too, possibly driving smaller ones out of business and reducing borrowing options.
Read the whole sorry thing.

We wish those EduRascals in Washington would "go after" the folks who steal millions with the same gusto that they have when they go after a fourth-grade teacher whose test scores haven't risen by the mandated amount each and every year...
See our latest EduPosts.

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Most Dangerous Schools In America?

USA Today reports that the U.S. Department of Education thinks it has identified the "most dangerous schools in America." But they aren't located where one might expect them to be:
WASHINGTON — The schools identified as the nation's most dangerous during the past five years can't be found in Los Angeles, Chicago or most of America's other urban centers.

They're in communities such as Vineland, N.J., Augusta, Ga., and Todd County, S.D.

The federal No Child Left Behind Act requires states to identify "persistently dangerous" schools and give parents the option of moving their children to other schools. But it gives so much leeway to states and school districts that only those schools diligent about reporting ever come close to making the list.

States can penalize districts by withholding money if they don't do enough to improve safety.

What's evolved, safety experts say, is a system where states have made it very hard for schools to be classified as unsafe and schools can report incidents as they see fit. Fewer than 100 of the nation's 90,000-plus public schools have ever been slapped with the label since the law took effect in 2002. Although studies indicate school crime has been declining since the 1990s, many experts say schools underreport incidents.

"It's unfair," said Allan Bernardini, a school board member in Vineland, a working-class city in southern New Jersey where Solve D'Ippolito Intermediate School made the list two consecutive years before coming off in July. "Generally, we have good children in Vineland. We got 10,000 kids in the district and maybe 75 that give you a problem."

He said the school got on the list because administrators wrote everything down: "hair pulling, punching, wrestling on the ground." They got off by improving discipline, implementing new safety programs involving students and redefining what incidents are serious enough to be reported, district officials said.

No Child Left Behind requires schools to test their students, improve teacher training and provide free after-school tutoring. It also includes a lesser-known provision directing states to draw up safety standards but leaves it up to them to decide what is a dangerous school and how to enforce it.

It has produced a mishmash of definitions.

Defining 'persistently dangerous'

Gannett News Service contacted the education agency in every state and most said their schools would get the "persistently dangerous" label if reported crime reaches a certain level for three consecutive years. Most concentrate on reporting serious incidents, such as murder, rape and assault. Few mention bullying, though safety experts say it's a big problem in many schools. And many say incidents that happen on the school bus should be counted.

But the similarities end there.

A school with 1,000 students in Colorado would be labeled dangerous if it reported at least 180 serious incidents per year for two straight years. In Massachusetts, a school is considered dangerous if a student is expelled three straight years for bringing a gun or if at least 1.5% of the student body is expelled or suspended for more than 45 days. Wisconsin schools earn the distinction if, for three straight years, they suspend at least 5% of the student body for weapons-related offenses or expel 1% for "assault/endangering behavior" or weapons.

These policies are aimed largely at urban schools, where security precautions — X-ray machines, cameras and police officers — are in place. The irony, school safety experts say, is that the schools where the bloodiest shootings have occurred, notably Columbine High in the well-to-do Denver suburb of Littleton, Colo., where 12 students and one teacher were killed in 1999, would almost never qualify.

More problematic is the reporting.

The stigma of a "persistently dangerous" label is enough to keep most schools from being completely honest, said Beverly Caffee Glenn, executive director of the Hamilton Fish Institute on School and Community Violence at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

"There's realty prices to be considered. Would you want to move into a school district where you knew it was unsafe?" said Glenn, referring to the importance schools have on home values. "There's also the issue: Do you want to be the principal of a school where you can't control your kids?"

A U.S. Department of Education committee is exploring the issue and may recommend changes when Congress takes up reauthorization of the law this year. So far, members have debated whether to reword the "persistently dangerous" label to something less negative such as "safe schools option" so schools might be more willing to report incidents.

Accountability at issue

Alan Bersin, a former federal prosecutor who just stepped down as California's education secretary, said the entire issue should be re-examined. None of his state's roughly 9,000 public schools have ever made the list.

"There's a problem with the way the question's being asked, the standard that has been given and the reporting," he said.

Paul Vallas, who once ran Chicago's school system, says at least a few of that city's schools should be tagged as dangerous. As Philadelphia's current school system chief, Vallas has directed schools to report any serious incident that happens on school grounds — no matter the time or day. They also must report any incident involving a student traveling to and from school.

The result: 29 different city schools have made the list since 2002-03, though only nine are still on the list. No district has logged more.

"I would rather be aggressive about identifying schools that do not have satisfactory school climates rather than somehow try to get around the mandate because other states aren't being aggressive about enforcing the mandate or setting the standard," he said.

New York state added 17 schools to its list in August after state auditors found severe under-reporting of incidents at most of the districts they examined.

One that wasn't added to the list was White Plains High School, which has never been tagged as "persistently dangerous." The school reported 22 serious incidents to the state for the 2003-2004 school year, even though school records indicated there were 289 others unreported, including 35 assaults with physical injury and one sexual assault.

David Fattah, a community activist in west Philadelphia who has worked to make "persistently dangerous" Overbrook High safer said the term hurts even though he knows the school has made great strides.

"I just really feel as though these labels need to be kind of put in perspective," he said. "I want to hear (students) say: 'I want to go to Overbrook, Mr. Fattah, can you help me out? I don't want to hear them say 'Overbrook' like we're talking about Iraq."
Heh. Maybe the folks who work spend their time in the plush office suites of Washington's Department of Education ought to get out from behind their desks once-in-a-while and actually venture forth and visit a few schools from that haven't been hand-picked for the propaganda purpose of ballyhooing the Administration's No Child Left Behind Act. They should "drop in" on schools that are more representative of the conditions in which the country's young people and their teachers actually find themselves on a daily basis.
See our latest EduPosts.

No Spanky-Spanky In The Golden State?

One of California's legislators wants to ban the spanking of children by parents:
The state Legislature is about to weigh in on a question that stirs impassioned debate among moms and dads: Should parents spank their children?

Assemblywoman Sally Lieber, D-Mountain View, wants to outlaw spanking children up to 3 years old. If she succeeds, California would become the first state in the nation to explicitly ban parents from smacking their kids.

Making a swat on the behind a misdemeanor might seem a bit much for some -- and the chances of the idea becoming law appear slim, at best -- but Lieber begs to differ.

``I think it's pretty hard to argue you need to beat a child 3 years old or younger,'' Lieber said. ``Is it OK to whip a 1-year-old or a 6-month-old or a newborn?''

The bill, which is still being drafted, will be written broadly, she added, prohibiting ``any striking of a child, any corporal punishment, smacking, hitting, punching, any of that.'' Lieber said it would be a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail or a fine up to $1,000, although a legal expert advising her on the proposal said first-time offenders would probably only have to attend parenting classes.
I wonder what the penalty would be for spanking a state legislator for wasting the publics' time and money on asinine legislation?
See our latest EduPosts.

Extra Credit Reading: Friday, January 19, 2007

Get a load of the 12 and 13-year-old knuckleheads who thought it would be amusing to doctor their science teacher's beverage.

Don't kids sometimes say the darndest most annoying things? Here's how parents can respond to the six most bothersome.

While attending a recent inservice at the County Office of Education, history teacher Polski3 learned
an important lesson concerning the EduCracy's real budgetary priorities.

Grad Student Jenny D.
ponders whether or not teachers unions can actually make a positive contribution to the betterment of the Teaching Craft. Education Sector's also has something to say about the unions.

No surprise here: The smartest 10 percent of children
will end-up being the nation's leaders in medicine, engineering, law, the sciences and academia. And here's another non-surprise: How much would you like to bet that few of that 10 percent would even consider devoting their life's work to serving our children in a public school classroom? (If you haven't read Alice in EduLand, maybe now's the time.)

The U.S. Department of Education Central Government's Bureau Of Truth and EduRegulation Compliance continues to celebrate the passage of the Federal No Child Left Behind Act. Read about the latest love-fest
over there.

Today's Non Sequitur: Do you or someone you know suffer from "
Ugly Bra Strap Syndrome?" (Here's more for those who feel that they must be slaves to a part of this latest fashion idiocy trend.)
See our latest EduPosts.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Separate And Unequal In New Jersey?

Some 50 years after the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed racial segregation in public schools, community leaders in Newark, New Jersey are saying that segregation still exists:
Children in New Jersey schools are racially isolated, a harmful state of affairs that deserves action, according to educators, advocates, lawyers and African-American community leaders who discussed the issue during a symposium Wednesday at Essex County College.

"The key is, What are we going to do about it?" asked moderator Bob Pickett, a former counselor to Gov. Jim Florio. "Nothing will happen if we simply stand by."

Better teachers, improving pay, expanding charter schools and considering regional districts were among the partial remedies explored during wide-ranging discussions at the event, which was organized by Excellent Education for Everyone, or E3, a school-choice advocacy group based in Newark and Camden.

The state constitution has prohibited public-school segregation since 1947, but it persists because of residential segregation and a patchwork of 617 small school districts. A 2001 study by the Harvard Civil Rights Project ranked New Jersey's schools the fourth most-segregated in the United States. In Passaic's public schools, white children numbered 208 out of 12,321 students during the 2005-06 school year. In Franklin Lakes that year, 52 out of 1,741 students were black or Latino.

"This state has promised to do what's necessary to reform public schools, and brothers and sisters, it simply has not happened," said the Rev. Reginald T. Jackson, executive director of the Black Ministers Council of New Jersey.

Panelists questioned why parents have not protested widely after years of low test scores at schools with large numbers of minority students. Although the state's graduation rate of 84.5 percent is the nation's highest, rates at urban high schools are often far below that. At Eastside High School in Paterson, the rate is about 60 percent.

"Where is the rage?" asked Peter Denton, who co-founded E3 in 1999 with Cory Booker, who now is the mayor of Newark. Dropouts are "sentenced to jail, drug addiction centers, at best low-wage jobs, or death -- because we cannot educate them."

Teacher quality is one key to student achievement, and it is often overlooked, said Heather Peske of the Education Trust, an advocacy group based in Washington, D.C.

"What we now know is that student demographics matter much less than the quality of the teacher that stands in front of the class," she said, noting that students at high-poverty schools are twice as likely to have an inexperienced teachers compared with other schools.
Peske's quote, "What we now know is that student demographics matter much less than the quality of the teacher that stands in front of the class," says it so well.
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Extra Credit Reading: Thursday, January 18, 2007

Who would have thought that individuals making repeated bomb threats in order to disrupt schools would be a problem in Maine?

Once again, that 'ole bugaboo the "looming teacher shortage" is raising its imaginary ugly head, this time in Kansas. (Here in California, every time a shortage "looms," the state lowers credentialing standards, thus flooding the labor market with newly-minted "emergency" credentialed personnel and thus "solving" the shortage before it occurs while at the same time reducing pressure to raise salaries.)

In today's EduNews from the United Kingdom, it seems as though our Transatlantic Cousins are
taking a hard look at permitting the hiring of non-teachers as "heads," (called "Principals" in the U.S.) over some state-run schools.

The U.S. House of Representatives has voted to cut the student loan rate for college students.

Having won the right to cover the upcoming trial of ex-administration official I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, it seems as though some bloggers
are moving up in the world. But then again, with upcoming court cases such as that of the notorious Jessica Cutler, aka Washingtonienne, we've still a long ways to go...

Today's Non Sequitur: Even though fun and frivolity have returned to New Orleans' French Quarter, it seems as though
nearly everyone is in a funk.
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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The EduReform Of The Day

And now it's New York City's Mayor Michael Bloomberg's turn to attempt the reform of New York City's public education system:
With the city’s fiscal health better than it has been in years, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said today he would focus new energy on reforming the city’s sprawling school system, beginning with empowering school principals and reigning in a teacher tenure system that some critics have said guarantees lifetime jobs to some bad teachers.

The mayor announced his proposals to improve the public school system, along with a package of $1.1 billion in tax cuts that he said New Yorkers had earned through their belt tightening since the attack on the World Trade Center towers dealt a blow to the city’s economy.

The mayor said he would cut property taxes by roughly 5 percent and eliminate the city sales tax on clothing and footwear after a year in which New York has managed to lower its unemployment rate, increase its tax revenues and build on efficiencies in city government.

“I believe that a good portion of the surplus revenues we anticipate in the current fiscal year should go back to the New Yorkers who made sure that the city’s recovery from 9/11 exceeded our wildest dreams,” Mr. Bloomberg said in Brooklyn in his State of the City address to City Council members and civic leaders.

But the mayor said that the city’s overall economic future needs strong public schools.

“I’ve always said that our first priority is improving education,” he said.

He said that while on-time graduation rates are now “the highest in 20 years,” and scores in reading and math achievement tests have gone up, there is still much work to be done. Black and Latino students were closing the yawning gap in test scores compared to their white counterparts, he said, but still lagged behind. More than half of black and Latino students are not performing at grade level, he said.

“If that’s not reversed, too many of our children will face dead-end futures in a highly competitive global economy,” he said.

Four years ago, as part of his takeover of the city’s school system, Mr. Bloomberg helped create a system of 10 regional superintendents to oversee the old system of 32 local school districts.

But since the start of the mayor’s second term, Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein has pushed to reduce the role of the regional superintendents, giving wider authority to principals. Today Mr. Bloomberg announced that the regional superintendent offices would be eliminated “now that their job is done.”

The 32 community superintendents will report directly to the chancellor, he said, and “each school will be able to pick the path that’s best for its students, parents and teachers. The money we save by downsizing our bureaucracy will go directly back to the schools.”

He also said that schools would be required to issue annual “user friendly reports” that will be sent to parents, grading each school with a grade of A to F “to hold the principals’ feet to the fire.”

With the help of the powerful teachers union, the United Federation of Teachers, Mr. Bloomberg said he would put into place a new system of teacher evaluations that would allow officials to “reward teacher excellence and begin to eliminate mediocrity.

The current tenure system, he said, rewards longevity over teacher performance.

“We must do a better job of keeping teachers who are effective instructors but at same time we must make sure that ineffective teachers are not awarded the privilege of tenure and the near-lifetime job security that comes with it.”
Read all of it right here.

We didn't see anything in the Time's piece or the transcript of Bloomberg's speech about the need to also hold parents and students accountable for their own academic success.

Interestingly, the mayor pushed through a huge increase in property taxes early in his term while just now cutting those on clothing and footwear.

Compensating, perhaps?
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This Just In

A school bus has crashed in Grant Country, Kentucky, severely injuring three students.

Our thoughts are with the kids and their families.

New charges have been filed against accused kidnapper Michael Devlin, while authorities are examining the possibilitiy that he might be involved in the unsolved 1991 disappearance of another youngster.

Extra Credit Reading: Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Writing his opinion in the Wall Street Journal, Charles Murray provokes thought by pointing out that half of all children are below average in intelligence. Murray then throws gasoline on the fire provokes more thought by stating that perhaps some kids just weren't meant to go to college. Update: Joanne Jacobs has more.

Just saying "maybe" to obesity: Down in the Sunshine State, the Miami-Dade School Board
is giving consideration to the idea that middle school kids don't need a daily dose of Physical Education.

Today's edition of The Carnival of Education has
swung open its gates over at Dr. Homeslice's place.
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The 102nd midway of The Carnival of Education (hosted this week by Dr. Homeslice) has opened its gates with a variety of exhibits and sideshows from across the EduSphere.

For extra credit, checkout what the homies are up to over at the Carnival of Homeschooling, which is themed around a "meeting of the parents."
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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Can This Type Of Success Be Repeated?

Joanne Jacobs:
Under a new principal, a Teach for America grad, Bunche Elementary raised its scores to the top 30 percent in the state. The school, located in an LA suburb, didn’t receive any extra state money to fund the turn around. Instead, the principal redirected existing funding for priorities such as paying teachers to tutor after school. The LA Times explains Bunche’s strategy.

1. Begin with classroom discipline. In her first year, Principal Mikara Solomon Davis issued more than 100 suspensions at the school of 467 students. Many of the suspensions are served in school, so students are removed from their classrooms but their work still is supervised.

2. Hire carefully. Applicants write an essay explaining their teaching philosophy and how it would boost test scores. They must demonstrate lessons with students in front of administrators, other teachers and parents. They’re also asked if they’re willing to tutor outside of regular class time.
There's much more over at Jacobs' place.

Now I know what many of you are thinking out there in EduLand: How can our local public schools get a side-order of what Bunche Elementary is having?

The answer, of course, starts with the hiring and retention of the highest caliber of leadership.

School systems could begin by actually promoting folks based upon their qualifications, ability to "think outside the box," and a proven track-record of success based upon their classroom teaching experience.

But of course, in all-too-many public school systems, the implementation of merit-based promotion (rather than promotion that is based upon cronyism and other forms of political connections) would be unthinkable as most school systems are organized around an all-powerful (and largely autocratic) superintendent who often distributes administrative positions to his or her political allies like so much Halloween candy.

For systemic change to occur, accountability for results needs to extend beyond the level of those who are in the classroom.

And accountability at the administrative level continues to be the missing element in most American public school systems
Carnival of Education submissions are due today. See our latest EduPosts here.

Extra Credit Reading: Tuesday, January 16, 2007

In order to promote worldwide literacy, First Lady Laura Bush has hit the road and is meeting with other incandescent luminaries in The City of Light.

Submissions for the 102nd midway of The Carnival of Education
are due today!

A few day's ago, we took
a brief look at the disturbing story of a school district which had banned some students from certain bus routes because the spoke English. But we weren't the only ones in the blogosphere that noticed. Over at Gates of Vienna, they also examined this controversial policy. Don't miss the lively discussion down in the commenting threads.

Fun With Statistics: Did you know that among public schools with internet access, 97% used broadband connections in 2005, compared to 80% in 2000 when it was first measured? Read a whole report titled Internet Access in U.S. Public Schools and Classrooms: 1994-2005
right over there.

In yet another sign that the blogosphere is growing up,
we have learned about the publication of the first-ever Science Blogging Anthology.
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Carnival Entries Are Due!

Entries for the 102nd midway of The Carnival Of Education (hosted this week by Dr. Homeslice) are due today. Please email them to: drhomeslice [at] hotmail [dot] com . (Or use this handy submission form.) Submissions should be received no later than 9:00 PM (Eastern), 6:00 PM (Pacific). Contributions should include your site's name, the title of the post, and the post's URL if possible.

Visit last week's midway, hosted by I Thought a Think, over there.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, the exhibits should open Wednesday.
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The Watcher's Council Has Spoken!

Each and every week, Watcher of Weasels sponsors a contest among posts from the Conservative side of the 'Sphere. The winning entries are determined by a jury of 12 writers (and The Watcher) known as "The Watchers Council."

The Council has met and cast their ballots for last week's submitted posts.

Council Member Entries: In a tie-vote in which The Watcher cast the deciding vote, Done With Mirrors took first place with Why Is There Still a CIA? while The Colossus of Rhodey's American Fascists was runner-up.

Non-Council Entries: Blackfive garnered the most votes with A Strategy for the Long War.
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Monday, January 15, 2007

The Conservation Generation?

Students in Hawaii are doing what they can in order to save energy:
HONOLULU (AP) _ Fourteen public schools will compete to see how much electricity they can save in the next six months.

The best techniques will then be mandated throughout the school system next year.

Half of the savings at each location will also be returned to the school.

The effort is part of a large energy savings and conservation initiative launched by the governor last year.

The Department of Education hopes to see energy use cut by as much as 35 percent over the next five years.

The department paid 31-million dollars on electricity last year at its 258 public schools.

Assistant superintendent Randy Moore says the students are learning ways to save energy.
In our school district here in California's so-called "Imperial" Valley, the on-campus saving of energy is not a campus concern, even though we live in a desert. Several years ago, the powers-that-be had the thermostats removed from each and every teacher's classroom in order to save money. Temperatures are now supposedly controlled by a central office in San Diego, over 100 miles away.

In reality of course, our classrooms are scorching in summer and shivering in winter.

Of course, the district offices kept their thermostats
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Extra Credit Reading: Monday, January 15, 2007

Lectrice, the London teacher who writes over at Blackboard Jungle, has been on hiatus from both teaching and writing for some time. In a couple of surprise recent posts, we find that Lectrice has been traveling the world and has returned to teaching, this time in the South American country of Peru. Let's hope she keeps us updated!

The trend of dividing large comprehensive high schools into a number of smaller schools-within-a-school started in urban areas. The trend is now being found in smaller communities with Leominster, Massachusetts the latest example.

Controversial proposal in New Jersey: Should schools no longer be required to teach about Veterans Day and Memorial Day? As one might suspect, the passions are running high on both sides.

Today's non-sequitur: After participating in a contest to win a "Wii" game system, an unfortunate young woman has died of hyponatremia, which is otherwise known as "water intoxication."
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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Federally-mandated Cheerleading: EduCracy Run Amok?

The United States Department of Education has now mandated that high school cheerleading squads must now cheer as enthusiastically for girls as they traditionally have for the boys:
WHITNEY POINT, N.Y. — Thirty girls signed up for the cheerleading squad this winter at Whitney Point High School in upstate New York. But upon learning they would be waving their pompoms for the girls’ basketball team as well as the boys’, more than half of the aspiring cheerleaders dropped out.

The eight remaining cheerleaders now awkwardly adjust their routines for whichever team is playing here on the home court — “Hands Up You Guys” becomes “Hands Up You Girls”— to comply with a new ruling from federal education officials interpreting Title IX, the law intended to guarantee gender equality in student sports.

“It feels funny when we do it,” said Amanda Cummings, 15, the cheerleading co-captain, who forgot the name of a female basketball player mid-cheer last month.

Whitney Point is one of 14 high schools in the Binghamton area that began sending cheerleaders to girls’ games in late November, after the mother of a female basketball player in Johnson City, N.Y., filed a discrimination complaint with the United States Department of Education. She said the lack of official sideline support made the girls seem like second-string, and violated Title IX’s promise of equal playing fields for both sexes.

But the ruling has left many people here and across the New York region booing, as dozens of schools have chosen to stop sending cheerleaders to away games, as part of an effort to squeeze all the home girls’ games into the cheerleading schedule.

Boys’ basketball boosters say something is missing in the stands at away games, cheerleaders resent not being able to meet their rivals on the road, and even female basketball players being hurrahed are unhappy.

In Johnson City, students and parents say they have accepted the change even as they question the need for it.

Several cheerleaders there recalled a game two years ago, long before the complaint, when the squad decided at the last minute to cheer for the girls’ team because a boys’ game was canceled.

The cheers drowned out directions from the girls’ coach, frustrated the players, and created so much tension that the cheerleaders left before halftime.

“They asked, ‘Why are you here?’ ” recalled Joquina Spence, 18, a senior cheerleader. “We told them, ‘We’re here to support you,’ and it was a problem because they kept yelling at us.”

But, as the New York State Public High School Athletic Association warned in a letter to its 768 members in November, the education department determined that cheerleaders should be provided “regardless of whether the girls’ basketball teams wanted and/or asked for” them.
Read the whole piece.

Those of us who are traditional conservatives fondly remember when the Republican Party was against this sort of mandate from the Central Government.

The Royal House of Spellings U.S. Department of Education continues to behave with the sort of high-handedness that is disquieting to many observers on both the political Left and Right

But then again, maybe one might expect high-handedness from ivory-tower Washington EduCrats who've never served a day in a public school classroom and would never encourage their own offspring to pursue a career in which one actually works with children.
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Extra Credit Reading: Sunday, January 14, 2007

When it comes to being successful in a top-tier college, I think that this is a real-life example of the old maxim: train hard; fight easy.

Here's something we like: on February 2, working professionals all over the country will be
taking a student to work with 'em in the 10th annual observance of Ground Hog Job Shadow Day. More can be found here and there.

With the observance of Martin Luthur King Day just around the corner, Seattle Times columnist Lynne K. Varner advocates that public schools should be allowed to consider race as a factor
when assigning students to its schools. Agree or disagree, your thoughts will be provoked...
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