(Don’t have time to read through the hundreds of education-related blogs? NSBA Senior Editor Lawrence Hardy brings you the “must-reads” in his weekly round-up, “The Week in Blogs,” now appearing on School Board News Today. Laugh out loud and learn something new each Friday.)
Living in the Washington, D.C., area can make you feel like a real mover and shaker — even if the only moving and shaking you do is on the dance floor. Case in point, watching my 9-year-old daughter’s soccer game one weekend, I couldn’t help but overhear a parent from the other team talking rather loudly and importantly on his cell phone, saying something about “our position regarding the European Union.”
Which, of course, made me think: “What’s my position regarding the European Union — and do I need to phone that in?” No, actually, it made me think: “What a cool place to live — a place where Big Things are being decided.”
In truth, most of us here spend more time talking about those Big Things than deciding them — or being around the people who decide them. An exception occurred last December, on the deadest of Friday afternoons before the holidays, when I attended a small seminar in a nondescript building off Dupont Circle in the District.
The subject: common core standards.
Why was this different? Being an education writer, I knew something about the Common Core State Standards initiative and how it was being developed (at a relatively fast clip) by two national consortia, endorsed by most states. But it wasn’t until I went to the seminar and heard from some of the consortia’s key curriculum and testing experts that it hit me: A relatively small group of (admittedly nice and professional) experts was very soon going to determine the parameters of what all public school children will be expected to know during the first decades of the 21st century.
A big deal, indeed. And one about which I, and I suspect a lot of other people, are saying: “I just hope they get it right.”
See American School Board Journal‘s March cover package for my overview piece on the common core initiative as well as a number of other stories, including advice for districts from management expert Douglas B. Reeves and a skeptical view from Illinois superintendent Ken Mauer.
This week, that feeling of skepticism was reiterated in a self-described “cautionary tale” by Robert Pondiscio of The Core Knowledge Blog. The piece takes as its jumping off point a New York Times story on how the standards are being piloted at a New York City high school.
The 57th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision was this past Tuesday, and the Alliance for Excellent Education marked the date by noting the high numbers of minority students who continue to drop out of high school. The Supreme Court may have struck down the pernicious “separate but equal” doctrine more than a half century ago, but “the promise of an equal education remains unmet for too many of the nation’s students of color and Native American students,” said the Alliance blog High School Soup.
A new report from the group notes: “If just half the 333,200 African-American students who dropped out of the class of 2010 had graduated, these 166,600 new graduates’ would likely be earning an additional $1.7 billion ”
Turning to higher education: University of Wisconsin professor Sara Goldrick-Rab questions the rigor of college study on The Education Optimists blog. The decidedly pessimistic findings of a new report: Many students at Wisconsin’s flagship university aren’t being sufficiently challenged. For example, 75 percent of students read fewer than five books during their senior year.
On a more upbeat note: Despite all the pressure and considerable flak teachers have taken recently, a recent survey shows that teaching has once again become the most sought after profession among certain young people. Also big are: artist, football player, princess, and cowgirl.