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Friday Reading List: Mayoral Control, Remediation, and Must See TV


Happy Friday! Now that you've gotten through the first week of back-to-school madness, you can relax and check out these good reads:

*The administration says the stimulus saved or created 1 million jobs. Does that sound about right to you?

*Secretary of Education Arne Duncan urges colleges to help out K-12 schools, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

*Speaking of Duncan, clear your calendar Tuesday night for this Must See TV.

*Joanne Jacobs finds out where “college dreams go to die.” (The answer is in community college remediation classes.)

*Rep. John Kline of Minnesota, the top Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee, reacts to President Barack Obama's speech, tying the controversy to the debate over the feds setting curriculum.

*Checker Finn wonders if it's time to throw in the towel on education reform.

*And Lesli Maxwell notes that Duncan may be his softening his stance when it comes to mayoral control.


Did Checker Finn almost drown himself in the neoconservative punch bowl?

No, we shouldn't give up on educational reform, but we should definitely make a U-Turn and head in another direction. The new road needs to be based on over 40 years of research that tell us how to educate a child. It's time to accept what we know and deal with it. Common sense should tell us that lead poisoning and ear infections ARE impediments to learning.

We have known for a long time those factors that contribute to a superior education: high education of parents, health of child, highly developed vocabulary before kindergarten, amount of reading done in the home, high-quality preschool, quality of peer interaction, quality of out-of-school experiences, quality of teacher, etc.

The current "reformers" have rejected what we know and opted for a "no-excuses" model that pushes charters, tests, merit pay, standards and other things that have no history of success. There is little or no research showing that these changes will improve education for anyone. Basically the current "reformers" say, "Maybe the child is hungry and has untreated ear infections, but he can still learn if you give him a good teacher." Well, yes, he can learn, but how much?

So, yes, let's give up on the present reform before we waste a few trillion on another unproven education fad. Let's do what we know works:

prenatal and infant healthcare

healthcare for all schoolchildren

visiting nurses for new mothers

"baby colleges" for parents and babies

high quality preschools

community centers that offer enrichment outside of the school day

nourishing meals at all centers and schools in impoverished neighborhoods

public school vouchers to suburban schools (Let poor children apply to any public school)

best qualified teachers for lowest-performing schools (Yes, we'll need to pay them more.)

paid mentors for the poorest children

very small classes for the poorest children (10 to 15)

tutors or home teachers for very distruptive children

Yes, this approach would be extremely expensive, but it's foolish to think that the schools can close the achievement gap without social and health supports. Research and common sense should tell us that. Sadly I believe that the present "reformers" are really interested in deregulation so they can do to the schools what Wall Street did to the country.

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