It's a tough call, I guess -- stay in town and spin the news about the latest NAEP scores that are out today, or go to Little Rock to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the beginning of school integration? Well, Spellings is staying in town, and Deputy Secretary of Education Ray Simon is going to Arkansas. Not that the EdSec doesn't like herself some travel, of course. Later this fall she's scheduled to go to Shanghai for a Special Olympics shindig....

MacArthur Foundation awards 24 grants Associated Press A woman who helps students go to college with their "posse," a psychiatrist who treats combat veterans and a museum director on Alaska's Kodiak Island are among the 24 winners of this year's MacArthur Foundation "genius grants." Schools still rise close to freeways LA Times L.A. Unified continues to build near roads that spew pollution despite a state law and evidence of health hazards. Buy a Laptop for a Child, Get Another Laptop Free NYT One Laptop Per Child, an ambitious project to bring computing to the developing world’s children, is ...

Everyone says they know how to fix NCLB -- what should be done -- but no one seems to know how to get the politics right to get there. Former New York City education guy Robert Gordon's piece in Slate does much the same, unfortunately. Titled with supreme confidence (How to fix the No Child Left Behind Act), the Gordon piece rehashes the obstacles we all know about and then proposes -- yes -- national standards as a solution. Politically speaking, NCLB proponents need to do something along these lines: buy off the teachers by softening the mandatory merit pay ...

Forget the Jena Six. The anti-0besity push against cupcakes in schools is facing new resistance, according to this NYT story (here), based in part upon the treat's renewed popularity among hipsters and yuppies as well as on the sometimes heavy-handed ways in which pro-health advocates have shaped their message. Plus which, cupcakes are tasty. "While the merits of banning goodie bags filled with Reese’s and Skittles seem obvious — especially at a time when the risk of childhood diabetes is high for American children — many parents draw the line at cupcakes."...

Though I'm more familiar with the Chicago story than Philly, I tend to agree with Dana Goldstein's assessment of the NYT story on Paul Vallas (Can Urban Schools Be "Tamed"?) that Vallas' record is mixed in previous districts and that the notion that superstar superintendents can transform districts is a misleading one. They can bring energy and get things organized, to be sure. (Vallas did the textbooks in the warehouse thing in 1995, and DC's Michelle Rhee did the same bit last week.) But they can't always make things change in the classroom, and often get pulled in so many ...


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