October 2012 Archives

My fellow Ed Week blogger Stephen Sawchuck highlights some interesting new research suggesting that student tracking in middle and high schools may create biases in value-added measures that make them weaker predictors teacher effectiveness in high school than in the elementary grades. I highlighted Kirabo Jackson, who conducted one of the studies, here last year. Lots of important questions and issues here, which Stephen lays out. I'd simply add that this research underscores why it's so important that our thinking about teacher evaluation and use of value-added measures not focus solely on teachers as the unit analysis, but must also ...


Killer quote from Peg Tyre capping off the Atlantic's dialogue on teaching writing (based around Tyre's original article here): I suggest to you that these young people needed more from their teachers than inspiration and a safe space. All students should have a chance to write poetry in school. But all students need the opportunity to gain the basic skills that will allow them to move forward in school and make a decent life for themselves and their children. Shame on us if we fail to provide that. This isn't just about writing but about what we want from schools ...


As someone who was born in the late 1970s and grew up listening to "Free to Be...You and Me" a lot, I'm loving this Slate series celebrating the 40th anniversary of the album and delving into the history of its production and impacts. Like the author, I'm curious what a Free to Be for today would look like, particularly in a world where girls take for granted that they can (and must) pursue a variety of professional careers, but boys trail girls in reading, writing, and college completion in part because social norms lead some boys to reject reading ...


If you missed Paul Gionfriddo's heartbreaking Washington Post piece about how our nation's broken approach to mental health has failed his son (who suffers from schizophrenia), go read it now. Any one who's had personal experience with mental health issues--either their own or a friend or family member's--knows that our nation's approach to mental health is deeply flawed, sometimes with tragic consequences. And it's difficult to deny that these failures have consequences for public schools. I often lose patience with broad stroke arguments that "poverty" or "parents" create insurmountable obstacles to improving school performance. But it's impossible to deny that ...


Al Roth, one of this year's two Nobel Prize winners in economics, is best known for his work designing matching mechanisms for situations where normal markets aren't feasible. That's relevant to education, because cities and school systems that have moved toward more portfolio-like models that give parents access to a wider range of charter and district choices are increasingly looking towards Roth's mechanism as a potential solution for making these choice systems work better for families and schools alike (ameliorating the problems mentioned here). As more cities move in this direction, expect to see these matching mechanisms playing a bigger ...


I appreciate what Mike Petrilli's trying to do in starting a conversation about the choices middle-class parents who settle in urban areas make around public education for their kids. Education policy debates tend to focus on issues of social justice for underserved low-income kids--as they should. But we also know that the long-term well-being of our cities depends on creating communities that can attract, retain, and support middle- and working-class families, as well as singles, young couples, the extraordinarily wealthy and very poor--and that is largely contingent on having a stock of urban schools to which middle class families are ...


Yasmina Vinci--one of the smartest people working in early childhood policy today--has a great op-ed in the Huffington Post this week calling out candidates for the presidency and other elected offices, members of the press, and voters themselves for failing to pay more attention to early childhood education in the current electoral campaign. She also includes some bonus history about Ronald Reagan's track record on Head Start in the early 1980s (hint: it may not be what you'd expect). Vinci make some important points--presidential and other federal candidates have been largely silent on early childhood education in this election, even ...


Richard Rothstein's American Prospect investigation into the details of Joel Klein's childhood (no, I'm not kidding here) is really not worth reading, but it unfortunately exemplifies two of the most toxic aspects of the current education reform conversation (fwiw it also contains some interesting information about the history of post-war public housing in NYC): Personality over policy: The point of Rothstein's very long article seems to be that Joel Klein's education policy views are invalid because his childhood was less poor than it has sometimes been represented as being. At a surface level, this is idiotic. Whether Klein grew up ...


The Root's Clinton Yates has a great piece up today about historical ignorance or revisionism that often comes into play in conversations about the evolving character (what some call gentrification) of Washington, D.C. The same phenomenon also comes up in discussions of the evolution of public education in Washington, D.C., whose own dramatic transformation over the past decade that rivals (and may in some respects contribute to) broader demographic and physical transformations in the city. When we talk about schools in D.C. we often take as our starting point the chronically low-performing schools and dysfunctional bureaucracy that ...


A few times during last nights' presidential debate, I had to check my watch to make sure that it wasn't 2000. Because every time education came up, I felt like I was listening to Al Gore and George W. Bush debating education circa 2000: Here's President Obama at last night's debate: So now I want to hire another 100,000 new math and science teachers, and create 2 million more slots in our community colleges so that people can get trained for the jobs that are out there right now. And I want to make sure that we keep tuition ...


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