December 2008 Archives

Children’s Defense Fund Shows us Hard Truths

Just in time for the new year comes a report from the Children's Defense Fund, detailing the actual conditions of the children of our nation. For many, the conditions are dismal. One in six live in poverty -- that's more than 13 million children across the United States. Almost half that number live in extreme poverty, and nine million lack health insurance. We can be certain these numbers are escalating as the recession intensifies -- stealing away jobs and straining philanthropy. Our nation leads the world in a number of unenviable categories. We are first in the number incarcerated, first ...


Finding the Good News in a Tough Year

This week a friend said I was a bit of a pessimist, and though I didn't like the sound of that, I have to admit he might have a point. Here I am week after week finding things to bemoan; throwing cold water on the idea of college for all, forecasting disaster for school finances, and declaring No Child Left Behind a failure. In my defense, I would say we have hit a pretty rough time, and there is a need for somebody to call out the troubles we are experiencing. But perhaps now that I am over fifty years ...


Reforms Collide with Reality: College is an Illusion for Most

My late father, Fred Cody, (pictured at right, milking the family cow) was born more than 90 years ago in Scott’s Run, West Virginia, a coal hollow in Monongalia County. His mother, a high school graduate, taught school there in a one room schoolhouse. Following his service in World War II, he was able to complete his PhD at the University of London thanks to the GI Bill. He would never have had that chance were it not for the generosity and foresight of the taxpayers. As a result, I have a great affection for the GI Bill. This ...


The Fight to Define the Status Quo

Barack Obama was elected with a powerful mandate for change. Teachers are excited because we will soon have an administration that has pledged to reform No Child Left Behind, allowing for a broader range of assessments and less emphasis on standardized test scores. He has promised a high priority for early childhood education, and called for greater investment in high needs schools. But as I have described in earlier posts, he has not clung to any particular brand of ideologically driven thinking. He has spoken in favor of merit pay for teachers, and advocates expanded support for charter schools. Now ...


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