Articles in the Week in Blogs category

Week in Review

Though their issues often begin and look different, suburbia can face just as many challenges in delivering high quality education. Speaking of challenges, high schools across the country are facing some embarrassing questions about, of all things, their yearbook. Finally, if you missed it, don’t forget to read the weekly roundup of education blogs, where you’ll learn an asterisk qualifies you to make just about an assertion. Read these and other entries from this week’s Leading Source.

Naomi Dillon|June 11th, 2011|Categories: American School Board Journal, Week in Blogs|

The week in blogs: Now about that asterick…

It’s summer — time to break the routine. So, in that spirit, let me begin this column with a subject that is truly dear to my heart:

Interesting Facts About Your Week in Blogs Editor

Readers, did you know that:

A) I’m a champion swimmer*

* in the struggle-across-the-pool category

B)  My wife says I have distinctive taste when it comes to home decorating*

* distinctively bad taste

I could go on, but, you get the point: Place a qualifying asterisk (*) after almost any assertion, and you can pretty much claim anything. It doesn’t make much difference when the subject is my swimming ability or home decorating prowess. But if I did the same with, say, a piece purporting to compare the relative advantages of charter school start ups to traditional public school turnarounds, the consequences might be  greater.

To his credit, Mike Petrilli does indeed qualify his assertion in a Fordham Institute blog entitled Charter start-ups are 4 times as likely to succeed as district turnarounds* (Note big asterisk). But that doesn’t stop him from making sweeping policy pronouncements based on data from just 19 schools. That’s the number of schools (in 10 states studied)  in which 1) the start up charter was near a traditional school with state reading and math proficiency in the bottom 10 percent, and 2) either school subsequently increased its performance to above the state average.

Those 19 schools further break down to 15 charters and just four traditional schools, meaning, Petrilli concludes, that serious questions must be raised, “about the wisdom of the federal government pumping $3 billion into school turnaround efforts instead of using some of the money to replicate and scale up successful charters.”
(more…)

Lawrence Hardy|June 10th, 2011|Categories: Announcements, Charter Schools, Privatization, Week in Blogs|

The week in blogs

It’s summer — time to break the routine. So, in that spirit, let me begin this column with a subject that is truly dear to my heart:

Interesting Facts About Your Week in Blogs Editor

Readers, did you know that:

A) I’m a champion swimmer*

* in the struggle-across-the-pool category

B) My wife says I have distinctive taste when it comes to home decorating*

* distinctively bad taste

I could go on, but, you get the point: Place a qualifying asterisk (*) after almost any assertion, and you can pretty much claim anything. It doesn’t make much difference when the subject is my swimming ability or home decorating prowess. But if I did the same with, say, a piece purporting to compare the relative advantages of charter school start ups to traditional public school turnarounds, the consequences might be  greater.

To his credit, Mike Petrilli does indeed qualify his assertion in a Fordham Institute blog entitled Charter start-ups are 4 times as likely to succeed as district turnarounds* (Note big asterisk). But that doesn’t stop him from making sweeping policy pronouncements based on data from just 19 schools. That’s the number of schools (in 10 states studied)  in which 1) the start up charter was near a traditional school with state reading and math proficiency in the bottom 10 percent, and 2) either school subsequently increased its performance to above the state average.

Those 19 schools further break down to 15 charters and just four traditional schools, meaning, Petrilli concludes, that serious questions must be raised, “about the wisdom of the federal government pumping $3 billion into school turnaround efforts instead of using some of the money to replicate and scale up successful charters.”
(more…)

Lawrence Hardy|June 10th, 2011|Categories: American School Board Journal, Budgeting, Curriculum, Diversity, Educational Research, Governance, School Reform, Student Achievement, Teachers, Urban Schools, Week in Blogs|

Week in Review

The latest edition of ASBJ is now available online and if you haven’t taken a gander, we encourage you to peruse through it soon. The June issue is devoted to real life stories of educational triumph from a trio of school districts across the country. Who knows, maybe the next story could be you? After all, we know lots of great things are happening in schools, like this one in Chicago.  Success stories like that, however, often flourish when schools and districts are given flexibility, which may be one reason that increasing numbers of educators are passing on RTTT funds. F0r these entries and more visit this week’s Leading Source. Happy reading and we’ll see you Monday.

Naomi Dillon|June 4th, 2011|Categories: American School Board Journal, Week in Blogs|

Week in blogs: It’s OK to ask questions if it doesn’t make sense

It’s the good elementary school teacher who tells her students: “It’s Okay to ask questions if you don’t understand.” It doesn’t mean you’re dumb; there could be many reasons why you’re lost.

Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., a strong advocate for public schools, seems to have taken that axiom to heart. In a sometimes darkly humorous video clip posted on This Week in Education, he shows that sometimes you can’t follow what someone is saying (in this case, someone testifying before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce) because, well, she isn’t making any sense.

“What are you telling me?” proclaims a somewhat exasperated Miller, after a witness attempts to explain that those ill-defined private Education Management Organizations (EMOs) that are increasingly running public charter schools really are accountable to their public boards (even though they typically withhold the most basic information from them) because, well, they should be accountable — and, doggone it, it’s just the right thing to do. (Or something like that; I didn’t get it either.)

“I don’t understand what you’re telling me,” the congressman deadpans.

Watch it. Laugh. And maybe — weep.

Speaking of accountability, in a provocative Op-Ed in the New York Times, author and education historian Diane Ravitch says that a lot of the dramatic short-term gains of charters “reconstituted” schools, and other highly touted programs “are the result of statistical legerdemain.” That drew a sharp response by Bloomberg’s Jonathan Alter called Don’t Believe the Critics Education, Education Reform Works.

And what do the kids think about this whole accountability thing? We can’t speak for all of them, of course, but the blogger “Miss Malarkey” has provided a helpful Top Ten list of “comments made by my third graders” during their first ever New York State tests.

My favorite: “Wait, is this the real test?”

Lawrence Hardy|June 3rd, 2011|Categories: Announcements, Week in Blogs|

The week in blogs

It’s the good elementary school teacher who tells her students: “It’s Okay to ask questions if you don’t understand.” It doesn’t mean you’re dumb; there could be many reasons why you’re lost.

Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., a strong advocate for public schools, seems to have taken that axiom to heart. In a sometimes darkly humorous video clip posted on This Week in Education, he shows that sometimes you can’t follow what someone is saying (in this case, someone testifying before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce) because, well, she isn’t making any sense.

“What are you telling me?” proclaims a somewhat exasperated Miller, after a witness attempts to explain that all those ill-defined private Education Management Organizations (EMOs) that are increasingly running public charter schools really are accountable to their public boards (even though they typically withhold the most basic information from them) because, well, they should be accountable — and, doggone it, it’s just the right thing to do. (Or something like that; I didn’t get it either.)

“I don’t understand what you’re telling me.” the congressman deadpans.

Watch it. Laugh. And maybe — weep.

Speaking of accountability, in a provocative Op-Ed in the New York Times, author and education historian Diane Ravitch says that a lot of the dramatic short-term gains of charters “reconstituted” schools, and other highly touted programs “are the result of statistical legerdemain.” That drew a sharp response by Bloomberg’s Jonathan Alter called Don’t Believe the Critics Education, Education Reform Works.

And what do the kids think about this whole accountability thing? We can’t speak for all of them, of course, but the blogger “Miss Malarkey” has provided a helpful Top Ten list of “comments made by my third graders” during their first ever New York State tests.

My favorite: “Wait, is this the real test?”

Lawrence Hardy, Senior Editor

Lawrence Hardy|June 3rd, 2011|Categories: American School Board Journal, Assessment, Curriculum, Dropout Prevention, Governance, Policy Formation, School Reform, Student Achievement, Teachers, Week in Blogs|

Week in Review

The week began with very sad news. Missouri’s Joplin Public Schools, which was recognized just this year as the grand prize winner of ASBJ‘s Magna Award, suffered a devastating setback on Sunday when a massive tornado struck the town, killing at least 116 people, destroying three schools and damaging as many others.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the city and people of Joplin. When schools are the cornerstone of communities, great things can be achieved(as in the case of Joplin), says the Coalition of Community Schools, which will host National Community Schools Advocacy day in Washington next month. And finally, we’ll leave you with a riddle: One potato, two potato, three potato, four. Under USDA proposed guidelines, Mr. Spud would be no more … at least, no more than one cup per week in school lunches. Enjoy the long weekend and we’ll see you Tuesday.

Naomi Dillon|May 28th, 2011|Categories: American School Board Journal, Week in Blogs|

The week in blogs

Say what you will about Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton (and we know you talk about him all the time) the man could turn a phrase.

Among the bon mots coined by the 19th century English aristocrat:

The pen is mightier than the sword….

Pursuit of the almighty dollar

The great unwashed

And, most famous of all, (thanks, in part, to a certain cartoon beagle)

It was a dark and stormy night

Why are we talking about Bulwer-Lytton? Because in the fifth installment of a seven-part series in Education Week, Frederick Hess, of the American Enterprise Institute, and co-authors Greg M. Gunn and Olivia M. Meeks, use another well known Bulwer-Lyttonism to begin their commentary on how to improve teacher quality, something about the folly of squeezing square pegs into round holes.  However, Hess and Co. asserts, when it comes to searching for good teachers, plucking a few square pegs isn’t such a bad idea. And, yes, it makes more sense when they say it.

Anyway, to mix metaphors even further, blogger John Thompson, in citing the column, says Hess “hits home runs (when not striking out),” which I guess is sort of a compliment, maybe.

Speaking of Bulwer-Lytton. You’re right! – In less than three months, the results of the 2011 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Writing Contest – “where WWW means Wretched Writers Welcome”—will be a released to a grateful public. (We’ll put last year’s winner at the end, so you’ll have to read all this first.)

So, very quickly: read Maureen Downey’s fascinating“Dropping out of School to Prove You’re a Genius and Getting Paid, the Quick and the Ed about a New York Times story on alleged “affirmative action for the rich,” and Joanne Jacobs’ completely different take on the same article.

And now, last year’s winning Bulwer-Lytton entry, which, I believe, comes from the “Romance”  –  really, really intentionally bad Romance –  category, we have this offering from Molly Ringle of Seattle, Wash.:

For the first month of Ricardo and Felicity’s affair, they greeted one another at every stolen rendezvous with a kiss–a lengthy, ravenous kiss, Ricardo lapping and sucking at Felicity’s mouth as if she were a giant cage-mounted water bottle and he were the world’s thirstiest gerbil.

May that lovely image stay with you this Memorial Day holiday, or maybe not.
Lawrence Hardy|May 27th, 2011|Categories: American School Board Journal, Student Achievement, Week in Blogs|

The week in blogs

Say what you will about Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton (and we know you talk about him all the time) the man could turn a phrase.

Among the bon mots coined by the 19th century English aristocrat:

The pen is mightier than the sword….

Pursuit of the almighty dollar

The great unwashed

And, most famous of all, (thanks, in part, to a certain cartoon beagle)

It was a dark and stormy night

Why are we talking about Bulwer-Lytton? Because in the fifth installment of a seven-part series in Education Week, Frederick Hess, of the American Enterprise Institute, and co-authors Greg M. Gunn and Olivia M. Meeks, use another well known Bulwer-Lyttonism to begin their commentary on how to improve teacher quality, something about the folly of squeezing square pegs into round holes.  However, Hess and Co. asserts, when it comes to searching for good teachers, plucking a few square pegs isn’t such a bad idea. And, yes, it makes more sense when they say it.
(more…)

Lawrence Hardy|May 27th, 2011|Categories: American School Board Journal, Diversity, Educational Research, Policy Formation, Student Achievement, Teachers, Week in Blogs|

Week in Review

As an impasse seems imminent in the race to raise our nation’s debt ceiling, let’s take a moment to ponder our own individual threshold for debt. Don’t know? Haven’t really thought about it? Well you’d be in plenty of company, as financial literacy is a skill most Americans haven’t quite mastered, though in many states like Virginia they’re trying to change that through legislation. Will it work? Meanwhile, a recent state survey revealed about half of Minnesota students report being bullied. Clearly, something there is not working. And finally, as commencement ceremonies continue throughout this month, here’s an example of a good idea gone bad. Happy reading and we’ll see you Monday.

Naomi Dillon|May 21st, 2011|Categories: American School Board Journal, Week in Blogs|
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