Articles in the Urban Schools category

NSBA comments on U.S. Chamber of Commerce report on school boards

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce may not agree on everything regarding K-12 education, but when it comes to basic recommendations for improving school board governance they can find some common ground.

Consider School Board Case Studies, a new report by the chamber’s Institute for a Competitive Workforce, which was released May 15 at a forum in Washington. Among the report’s findings:

  • School boards are most effective when they have clearly defined, and limited, responsibilities
  • Superintendents play a key role
  • Effective training and board development can make a difference
  • Caliber and commitment of individual board members matters

“Frankly, that’s what we call The Key Work of School Boards,” said NSBA Executive Director Anne L. Bryant, one of several panelists asked to comment on the report. NSBA’s Key Work is a framework of eight interrelated action areas to focus and guide school boards in their efforts to improve student achievement.

The chamber’s report looks at case studies of 13 mainly urban school districts across the country that are experiencing varying degrees of success, from the internationally recognized Long Beach Unified School District in Southern California to more challenged school systems in Detroit and Newark, N.J. The report emphasizes the role that business can play to create — as panelist Andrew J. Rotherham, co-founder of Bellwether Education Partners, put it — “urgency and context for reform.”

Rotherham said that business leaders and other concerned parties need to encourage well-qualified people to run for school boards. He said recruiting the right people doesn’t mean finding someone who shares your political views as much as choosing citizens who are up to this increasingly complex job.

“The reality is — it’s the type of habits and skills that people have” that are important, Rotherham said.

Bryant agreed. But she pointed to the 2011 report by NSBA, the Iowa School Boards Foundation, and the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, School Boards Circa 2010: Governance in the Accountability Era to counter some of the claims in the report, including a claim that school board elections are driven by special interests that are pouring money into races. School Boards Circa 2010 found that nationally, 74 percent of school board members said they spent less than $1,000 on their most recent race, and 87 percent spent less than $5,000.

Bryant also noted that two-thirds of board members surveyed for the report saw an urgent need to improve student achievement. As a group, the board members were also well-educated; 75 percent had at least a bachelor’s degree. And they typically aren’t using the board as a stepping stone to other positions, as some critics charge. When asked what prompted them to serve on a school board in the first place, just over 50 percent of respondents reported that their first motivation was to ensure that schools were the “best they can be,” 22 percent said “civic duty,” and only 1 percent said “developing their role as a public leader,” according to School Boards Circa 2010.

Bryant emphasized the need for collaboration, but also warned that strong partnerships take time and work.

“ We know from experience that our most successful partnerships start by building a culture of collaboration,” Bryant said. “This is hard work and any business or local chamber of commerce needs to understand that it takes time not only to build partnerships but to recognize their schools’ strengths and challenges. We’ve seen many partnerships flounder when a business coalition comes in and tells a school what to do without understanding how schools work and what the levers of real long term change are.”

Another panelist, Don McAdams,  chairman and founder of the Center for Reform of School Systems, criticized the report and said the 13 case studies were used to advance opinions rather than represent a snapshot of national findings.

The audience also heard from former U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, now president of the chamber’s U.S. Forum for Policy Innovation. She said that business people need to have more of a presence at school board meetings, which she said are typically attended by vendors, teacher unions, and others with special interest in the proceedings.

 

 

Lawrence Hardy|May 15th, 2012|Categories: Board governance, Data Driven Decision Making, Governance, Key Work of School Boards, Student Achievement, Teachers, Urban Schools|Tags: , , , , , |

The week in blogs: But can your principal do this?

Blogger Fawn Johnson mentions “hapless Principal Krupp” from the Captain Underpants series and “deliciously evil Principal Rooney” from Ferris Bueller’s Day off. But my favorite fictional school leader is Principal Skinner from The Simpsons, who, many years ago, as I recall, escaped from some nefarious crooks who had locked him in the school basement by using — what else? — fifth grade science principles. Pretty cool!

Real principals don’t have to be quite as heroic, but, as Johnson notes in her National Journal blog, the job involves a lot more in the way of academic leadership than it once did. Citing recent a recent report from NSBA’s Center for Public Education, Johnson says that principals can be the key to turning around low-performing schools — if they’re given enough years to do the work.

This Week in Education’s John Thompson takes a skeptical look at credit recovery in his blog, aptly titled “In Praise of Seat Time.” He’s commenting on two other critiques of the practice by the Washington Post’s Jay Mathews and Title I-Derland’s Nancy Connor. Also see “Course Credits on the Quick, in the March/April issue of the Harvard Education Letter.

Lastly, it’s college acceptance/rejection season, and. Time’s Andrew Rotherham has some sage words for high schoolers receiving “the thin envelop.”

Lawrence Hardy|April 28th, 2012|Categories: Center for Public Education, Curriculum, Educational Research, Governance, Urban Schools|Tags: , , , |

2012 Magna Awards honors Missouri, New York, and Pennsylvania school districts

Missouri’s Maplewood Richmond Heights School District, New York’s Monroe-Woodbury Central School District, and Pennsylvania’s Pittsburgh Public Schools have been named the grand prize winners in the American School Board Journal’s (ASBJ) 18th annual Magna Awards program.

The Magna Awards are supported by Sodexo School Services. Each of the grand prize-winning school districts will receive $4,000 in scholarship money during a special presentation at the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) Annual Conference, to be held April 21-23 in Boston.

The Magna Awards recognize districts across the country for outstanding programs that advance student learning and encourage community involvement in schools. This year’s three grand prize, 15 first place, and 15 honorable mention winners were selected from three enrollment categories: less than 5,000 students, 5,000 to 20,000 students, and over 20,000 students.

“The Magna Awards exemplifies strong school board leadership, creativity, and commitment to student achievement in public education,” said Anne L. Bryant, ASBJ’s publisher and executive director of NSBA. “This year’s Magna Awards recipients truly showcase the best practices and innovative school programs that are advancing student success.”

“Sodexo is proud to create learning-friendly environments that allow our partner districts to focus on doing what they do best—educating our children,” said Steve Dunmore, president of Sodexo Education-Schools. “We are honored to sponsor the Magna Awards and want to celebrate all school boards and communities that share in the commitment to further student well-being and achievement.”

Here is information on the grand prize entries:

• The Maplewood Richmond Heights School District in Maplewood, Mo., earned the grand prize in the under 5,000 enrollment category for its outreach program for homeless high school students. School district officials worked with local churches and community volunteers to create Joe’s Place—a shelter for homeless male high school students. The shelter provides students with counseling and a caring home environment. Of the 14 students served by Joe’s Place, 13 have graduated from high school or on track to graduate. Six former Joe’s Place residents are attending college, one has joined the Navy, and two more are employed full-time.

• The Monroe-Woodbury Central School District in Central Valley, N.Y., is being honored as the grand prize winner in the 5,000 to 20,000 enrollment category for an outreach program at an elementary school that serves a community with a large immigrant population. School district officials, with support from the school board, developed “English as a Second Language Family Night,” a program that provides literacy training for students and their parents twice a week. While the literacy skills of both parents and students improved, more parents volunteered for class activities. Parents also were more comfortable expressing themselves to school staff members.

• The Pittsburgh (Pa.) Public Schools are being honored as the grand prize winner in the over 20,000 enrollment category for its outreach program aimed at increasing the participation of fathers and other male role models in the district’s schools. “Take a Father to School Day” is an annual event which invites fathers, grandfathers, and other male role models to spend a day at their child’s school. Since 2007, the number of fathers attending the event has climbed from 3,669 to 5,964 in 2011. The event was founded by Pittsburgh Public Schools’ Board Member Mark Brentley as a “call to action” for men to become more involved in their children’s lives.

ASBJ initiated the Magna Awards in 1995 to recognize school boards for taking bold and innovative steps to improve their educational programs. An independent panel of school board members, administrators, and other educators selected the winners from 300 submissions. This year’s nominations came from 44 states.

In additional to the grand prize winners, these school districts are also being honored:

Winners – Category 1 – under 5,000 enrollment
Balsz Elementary School District #31, Phoenix, Ariz.
Blue Ridge School District, New Milford, Pa.
North Salem Central School District, North Salem, N.Y.
Sanborn Regional School District, Kingston, N.H.
White Pine County School District, Ely, Nev.

Winners – Category 2 – 5,000-20,000 enrollment
Alexandria City Public Schools, Alexandria, Va.
Blue Springs School District, Blue Springs, Mo.
Boone County Schools, Florence, Ky.
Southfield Public Schools, Southfield, Mich.
Southwest Independent School District, San Antonio, Texas

Winners – Category 3 – over 20,000 enrollment
Johnston County Schools, Smithfield, N.C.
Newport News Public Schools, Newport News, Va. – 2 programs
Polk County Public Schools, Bartow, Fla.
School District of Osceola County, Kissimmee, Fla.

Honorable Mentions
Amelia County Public Schools, Amelia Courthouse, Va.
Bridgehampton Union Free School District, Bridgehampton, N.Y.
Lumberton Township Schools, Lumberton, N.J.
Oak Park Unified School District, Oak Park, Calif.
Petersburg City Public Schools, Petersburg, Va.
Clover Park School District, Lakewood, Wash.
Henderson County Schools, Henderson, Ky.
Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation, Mishawaka, Ind.
Topeka Public Schools, Topeka, Kan.
Williamsburg/James City County Public Schools, Williamsburg, Va.
Fairfax County Public Schools, Falls Church, Va.
Lafayette Parish School System, Lafayette, La.
Peoria Unified School District, Glendale, Ariz.
St. Tammany Parish Public School District, Covington, La.
Sweetwater Union High School District, Chula Vista, Calif.

The 2012 winners will be highlighted in a special supplement to the May issue of ASBJ, and will be formally recognized on Saturday, April 21, at the Best Practices for School Leaders Luncheon, which is part of NSBA’s 72nd Annual Conference.

In addition to the ASBJ supplement, all honrees will be posted on the Magna Awards website and added to the program’s searchable best practices database.

Alexis Rice|April 12th, 2012|Categories: American School Board Journal, Board governance, Educational Technology, NSBA Annual Conference 2012, NSBA Publications, NSBA Recognition Programs, School Boards, Urban Schools|Tags: , , |

Principals’ impact is greatest at struggling schools, Center for Public Education report says

Principals are second only to teachers in their impact on students, and this impact is greatest at elementary schools and at high-poverty, high-minority schools, according to The Principal Perspective, a new report from the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) Center for Public Education (Center).

However, the report suggests that the very schools that need high-quality principals the most – those same high-poverty, high-minority schools — have a more difficult time finding them, with experienced principals typically moving after a few years to easier-to-manage schools. According to one study of a large urban district, a principal’s second or third school typically enrolled 89 percent fewer poor and minority students than their first one.

“Research clearly shows that principals are a key ingredient in the performance of their school, especially if that school enrolls a large number of low-performing and/or poor and minority students,” said Jim Hull, senior policy analyst at the Center. “Unfortunately, challenging schools are more likely to be led by less experienced and less effective principals even though principals have a greater impact on these schools than on less advantaged schools.”

Principal turnover adversely affects all schools, the report said. But this impact is greatest at the most challenging schools, the report said.

“In these schools, the new principal is more likely to have less experience and be less effective than a new principal at a less challenging school, often resulting in a longer, more pronounced slowdown of achievement gains,” the report said.

Among the qualities that the report says characterize effective principals are: having more than three years of overall experience and at least three years’ experience at that school; having a clear sense of instructional goals; and having shared leadership responsibilities, rather than simply delegating paperwork.

Because of the important role that principals play and the impact they have on learning, school board members need to ask many questions about how they are hired, managed, and evaluated, the report said.

“A school principal is now more than a head disciplinarian or a glorified schedule-maker. The principal of today’s school is a leader,” Hull notes. “While teachers may have the primary influence on student achievement, individual teachers cannot do it alone. An effective principal is needed to maximize teachers’ impact as well as the school’s effectiveness as a whole. School boards, educators and policymakers who focus on supporting the principal’s role as instructional leader will be supporting what’s best for students as well.”

The report is available on the Center’s website. Additionally, check out more of Hull’s analysis on principle effectiveness on the Center’s The EDifier blog.

Lawrence Hardy|April 11th, 2012|Categories: Center for Public Education, Student Achievement, Teachers, Urban Schools|Tags: , , , , , |

The week in blogs: Alleviating poverty, improving schools

Does “family income itself” determine whether or not a child learns? That’s what progressive educators believe, charges Harvard Professor Paul Peterson in a recent piece for Education Next.

Of course, Peterson is distorting the views of those in the Broader, Bolder Approach to Education coalition, who say that out-of-school factors such as a child’s health, nutrition, safety, and housing – all of which are influenced by a lack of adequate income — can have a big impact on that child’s ability to achieve  in school. Therefore, they say, we as a society need to address these out-of-school concerns.

This should be pretty well-accepted stuff by now – indeed, concepts that people like Coalition for Community Schools Director Martin J. Blank shouldn’t have to be called on to defend. Nonetheless, Blank does a admirable job of explaining the coalition’s position in “Education is a Both-and Issue” in the Huffington Post. The “both-and” refers, naturally, to improving both the schools and the conditions in which disadvantaged children live.

Bilingual education has taken a lot of hits of late from English-only supporters, but did you know that developing skills in two languages simultaneously can make you smarter? Read Joanne Jacobs, who links to a fascinating story in the New York Times.

Lawrence Hardy|March 26th, 2012|Categories: Student Achievement, Urban Schools, Wellness|Tags: , , |

The week in blogs: When the numbers don’t add up

Sarah Wysocki, a fifth grade teacher at McFarland Middle School in Washington, D.C, was worried about how she’d fare under the district’s IMPACT teacher evaluation, writes Bill Turque in a disturbing article in The Washington Post.

Her main concern was this: Fourteen of Wysocki’s 25 students had attended Barnard Elementary, which had five times the number of advanced fourth-grade readers as the district average. Yet Wysocki said that some of those so-called “advanced readers” could barely read.

Were the scores –the scores from which Wysocki’s “value-added” evaluation would be derived — inflated? Despite the high number of erasures on Barnard’s test papers and a subsequent investigation, a district spokesman told Turque that “it’s just not possible to know for sure.” And so, despite glowing evaluations, and even suggestions that she share her teaching methods with colleagues, Wysocki got the low score she feared and was dismissed.

The Post story is one of several this week that call into question the kind of “value-added” teacher evaluation programs that are becoming increasingly common across the country. Of course, many of the previous evaluation systems weren’t so great, either. In a New Republic article titled The False Promise of the New York City Teacher Evaluations, author Simon van Zuylen-Wood notes that, under a previous evaluation system that relied solely on classroom observations, 97 percent of New York teachers were judged “satisfactory.” But the new system has apparently substituted new errors for old ones.

There’s more. Read the essay by William Johnson in the New York Times titled “Confessions of a ‘Bad’ Teacher.” Then see how some liberal parents — many concernebout what they consider a misplaced emphasis on testing and evaluation– are joining their conservative counterparts in the home schooling ranks, thereby removing some of the most high-performing students from public school.

With all this — as well as massive budget cuts and staff reductions — is it any wonder that, according to the latest MetLife Survey of the American Teacher,  teacher job satisfaction has fallen by 15 percentage points since 2009, and nearly a third of teachers are considering leaving the profession?

I didn’t plan to make this column so negative, but I think these things are important to point out. Certainly, most school districts value their teachers and treat them like professionals. But even with the best of intentions, grand ideas concerning testing, evaluation, and accountably — when applied clumsily — can end up harming the very professionals we need to support.


Lawrence Hardy|March 11th, 2012|Categories: Assessment, Data Driven Decision Making, School Reform, Teachers, Urban Schools|Tags: , |

Q&A with Chef Jeff Henderson

Jeff Henderson is an award-winning culinary figure known simply as Chef Jeff — although simple would hardly be the way to describe his rise to fame. Growing up poor in southern California, Henderson quickly fell in with one bad crowd after another. When he was 24, he was nabbed for drug peddling and was sent to prison for nearly a decade.

While incarcerated, Henderson worked in the prison kitchen where he found sustenance and salvation in cooking. Today, he is a New York Times best-selling author and television personality who will be speaking at NSBA’s 72nd Annual Conference in Boston in April. The self-made entrepreneur recently took time out of his busy schedule to provide some food for thought to ASBJ Senior Editor Naomi Dillon.

When did your passion for food ignite?

I was placed on pots-and-pans detail in the prison kitchen. I realized the kitchen staff, like in any restaurant, gets to eat the leftover food. I thought, “OK, maybe this is the place to be.” The opportunity came for me to learn to cook by helping the head inmate cooks, and I got very good at it. I was very fast at seasoning and organization. Six months after I worked in the kitchen full time, the head cook left and I was promoted to head inmate cook and eventually head inmate baker. I had to be creative with the ingredients — onions, garlic powder, salt, pepper, top ramen noodle seasoning packages, canned tuna, a piece of bell pepper, some squeeze cheese. Whatever it was, we’d create these dishes.

You re-entered society with gusto, becoming the first African American to be named executive  chef at Café Bellagio in Las Vegas. How did you make that transition?

I took the same drive and tenacity that I had on the streets into the corporate world. Prison makes you very disciplined, and so do the streets. That added to my ability to move quickly up the food chain in the corporate world. I was the first one in and last one out every day. I studied the best talent around me. I bought the same shoes they wore, the same chef jackets, the same eyewear, and the same books. I watched how they moved through the kitchen, how they held knives, how they seasoned, how they held a pot handle, a sauté pan, and incorporated it all into what I do.

What does food represent to you?

It means a lot of things. Early in my life, it was survival. In prison it was an opportunity for me to eat better. After prison, food became a career. It became that vehicle for my redemption. The power of food is like a metaphor; food changes life. I get e-mails and letters and blogs and tweets from people who talk about how food changed their lives.

What is the Chef Jeff Project?

It was born out of my Los Angeles business called the Posh Urban Cuisine, where we catered to Hollywood celebrities and corporate executives. I would always hire at-risk kids through Job Corps, Pro Start, and local culinary trade schools. I would take these young people into multimillion-dollar estates and catering events and teach them how to cook. Many of these kids had social challenges. They didn’t smile, they sagged their pants, and their facial expressions were intimidating. So I wound up teaching these kids the importance of self-presentation. Then the Food Network reached out to me after I was on the Oprah Winfrey show and said, “Chef Jeff we want you to do a show.”

So how are you able to break through to the kids you work with?

Most teachers don’t come from poverty so they don’t understand the mindset. They don’t understand the trauma that these kids have been through. Until you understand that, you can’t connect. You can’t get them to buy in to the idea that education pays off. You get them to buy in by building up their self-esteem. You have to help them discover their gift and figure out what they want to do [in life] and cultivate that. In my travels, I meet kids who have never been on an airplane, never saw the ocean, never been to a white-tablecloth restaurant, never been to a museum, never been told that they were smart, never been told that they have potential. These kids were born in poverty to drug-addicted parents, abusive single parents, and broken family homes. It’s them against the world and the odds are stacked against them. So you’ve got to let them taste it, feel it, and see it, so when they go back to that environment that little voice talks to them and says, “You know what, there really is an ocean, there really is a New York, there really are opportunities.”

Naomi Dillon|February 24th, 2012|Categories: NSBA Annual Conference 2012, NSBA Publications, Nutrition, Student Engagement, Urban Schools, Wellness|Tags: , |

School counselors move to central education role

Just as the role of teacher has shifted in the last several years, so has the role of the school counselor, turning a once-fringe position into a proactive, data-driven, and integrated part of delivering a world class education for every child.

A distinguished panel of school counselors talked about these changes and the challenges of being a school counselor in the 21st century during a Saturday session of the Council of Urban Boards of Education winter Issues Forum at NSBA’s Leadership Conference.

“Yesterday’s counselor was very reactive. You rarely found them. Today’s counselor is serving all students. They’re not waiting for students to come to them; they’re looking at student’s needs and planning for them,” said Julie Hartline, the head counselor at Campbell High School in Georgia’s Cobb County School District. “Yesterday’s counselor would say, ‘I don’t know what kind of impact I have on a student until they’re gone. Today’s counselor has that data. It’s moved us into the role of being school leaders, instead of being ancillary.”

Indeed, Cobb County schools must set annual goals and part of her job at Nickajack Elementary is to track the school’s progress on those goals and areas where the counseling program can help achieve them, said Nicole Pfleger, who jsut names the 2012 National School Counselor of the Year by the American School Counselors Association.

A focus on improving math scores, for instance, resulted in targeted interventions for struggling math students. Meanwhile, the identification of “frequent flyers” or students who were continually referred to the disciplinary office, led to the DREAM Team, a program for at-risk boys that works on issues like character development, self-control, etiquette, and respect, Pfleger said.

“Our job is to help raise aspirations and aspirations come with information,” said Carolyn Stone, who spent 22 years as a school counselor at Florida’s Duval County Public Schools before becoming a professor of counselor education at the University of North Florida.

School counselors are ideally situated to close the information gap, which Stone said must be part of any effort to close the achievement gap.

“It’s about helping them connect the dots, making sure they know this is what you need to do to be successful,” Stone said. “I don’t want to sound simplistic, but sometimes it comes down to setting goals, so that when that kid is about to graduate, they have options, whether it’s a two-year, a four-year program or technical college, they know what they’re options are.”

Naomi Dillon|February 4th, 2012|Categories: Leadership, Leadership Conference 2012, Urban Schools|Tags: , , |

Successful community college/school partnerships

The importance of building partnerships was the centerpiece of Prince George’s Community College President Charlene M. Dukes’ presentation to attendees of the Council of Urban Boards of Education’s winter Issues Forum at NSBA’s Leadership Conference  on Saturday. And small wonder– strong alliances between the Maryland community college and its feeder school district have been the key to delivering innovative programs and opportunities to the students they both serve.

“The idea of partnering is nothing new. You partner with neighbors, churches, and communities to get things done,” Dukes said. But building partnerships to support education, upward mobility, and improved quality of life are what drives the work and shared goals of Prince George’s educators as well as those in the state.

“For the fourth year in a row, Education Week has named Maryland as number one for education,” Dukes said, referring to the annual Quality Counts report the publication produces that examines the current education landscape and where various states fall. “That doesn’t happen by chance.”

Dukes said every three weeks she has breakfast with Prince George’s County Public Schools Superintendent William Hite to vent, celebrate, and strategize.

“Dr. Hite and I want our students to see beyond the walls of school, beyond the boundaries of neighborhoods,” Dukes said. “We want them to see themselves as part of the world.”

One of the ways the two school systems are working to achieve that is through the Academy of Health Sciences at Prince George’s Community College, which opened in the fall of 2011 with 100 high school freshmen as the state’s first middle college.

As the name suggests, students who enroll in this program, which will eventually serve 400 low-income high school students, will graduate with a diploma and up to two years of college or an associate’s degree in the health sciences field.

“And it’s all free of charge to the students and their families because we were able to work in partnership as a school system and community college,” said Dukes. She explained to an audience eager to know how it was funded that some of the money comes from per-pupil expenditures the district gets from the state, but much of it comes from the college in the way of waived fees and free use of space.

Dukes said the program received 978 applications for the first class of freshmen. This time around, it received 4,000 applications for the freshman class.

“That tells you how hungry people are for something different in public education,” Dukes said. But it doesn’t stop there.

“In America, we’ve done a great job with access, with providing opportunities, but we have to do more to make sure that people make it out on the other end, that they reach their goals and walk across the stage with those academic credentials,” she said. “We have much work to do and we think we can do it together as boards of education.”

 

Naomi Dillon|February 4th, 2012|Categories: Dropout Prevention, Governance, High Schools, Leadership Conference 2012, School Boards, School Reform, Student Engagement, Urban Schools|Tags: , , , |

The week in blogs

Beware the blog that begins, “If you want my opinion….” because chances are you’re going to get it, whether you want to our not.

So, as I was saying, if you want my opinion (promise I’ll keep this short) on the whole Newt-Gingrich-wants-poor-kids-to-work-as-school-janitors thing, it’s not the idea itself that bothers me, it’s the attitudes that seem to support it.

That is, I could imagine a small charter-type school in a disadvantaged neighborhood where the students were charged with taking care of the building as  part of a team-building, esprit-de-corps type activity.

But to suggest, as the Republican presidential candidate did, that poor children as a group lack any kind of working role models — well, that to me is a bit much. Gingrich obviously hasn’t spent much time in a diverse American high school with lots of poor immigrants, where oftentimes the problem isn’t students not working, but working so much outside of school to help support stressed families that they have precious little chance of passing their courses.

For the record, here’s some of what Gingrich said, according to the New York Times’ Politics blog, which, in turn, quoted Politico:

You say to somebody, you shouldn’t go to work before you’re what, 14, 16 years of age, fine. You’re totally poor. You’re in a school that is failing with a teacher that is failing. I’ve tried for years to have a very simple model. Most of these schools ought to get rid of the unionized janitors, have one master janitor and pay local students to take care of the school. The kids would actually do work, they would have cash, they would have pride in the schools, they’d begin the process of rising.”

Among the many who criticized the candidate was Charles Blow, of the Times, and Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.

“Who in their right mind would lay off janitors and replace them with disadvantaged children — who should be in school, and not cleaning schools,” Weingarten said. “And who would start backtracking on laws designed to halt the exploitation of children?”

Others, including Peter Meyer of the Fordham Foundation, said Gingrich was on the right track.

“It was a bit odd to to see Charles Blow (of the New York Times) take out after Newt Gingrich for saying that ‘really poor children in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works,’’’ Meyer said. “I had just returned from an inner city school where teachers and administrators and parents were saying the same things as Gingrich.  In fact, I’ve been hearing these complaints from teachers – and business leaders – for years.  Teaching children the ‘habits of working’ is a growing part of the school reform movement.”

Yes, there was other news this week. For starters, check out Joann Jacobs’s discussion of how schools’ emphasis on reading and math tests could be crowding out other subjects.

Lawrence Hardy|December 10th, 2011|Categories: Curriculum, Immigrants, School Board News, Urban Schools, Week in Blogs|Tags: , |
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