Thursday, July 29, 2010

What the President "forgot" to mention...

The President gave a big speech about education reform yesterday.  He touted his pet project - Race to the Top - and refused to budge.

And he told the great story of a successful charter school.

Larry Ferlazzo, an educator and blogger I follow, reminded us about what the President failed to share about that charter school.  Sadly typical of politicians.  Here's the link to Larry's post.

This charter school raised its students math and English proficiency levels.  At the same time they experienced a 42% student attrition rate.  Need me to explain that?

They kicked out the kids that couldn't hack it.  This is the untold story of most charter schools.

And Bill Gates, and the President, and Secretary Duncan think they're great.

What if your kid is the one who can't hack it?

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Weblogg-ed » We Need a Test for That

Lately, I’ve been finding myself wondering if maybe the best strategy for changing education is to join ‘em, not fight ‘em. I mean, if the only material that we think is important is the stuff that our kids are going to get tested on, well, then let’s have MORE tests! (Play along!)

Here's a cynical post on testing. Imagine me sharing something like that...

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"We've mined their minds like we've strip-mined the earth."

This is a talk by Sir Ken Robinson, delivered at TED in 2006.  With all the recent articles and discussion about the decline of creativity in our kids I found it really interesting.

He talks about our current system of public education as being a protracted entrance process for college and university, and noted that all public ed systems have the same hierarchy of subjects, where we end up educating kids from the waist up, and then only from the neck up.  In the end, we educate the creativity out of our kids.

We have to rethink how we educate our children.

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Monday, July 19, 2010


Being near water is good for the soul, I think.  I spent the weekend at a lake house with some friends, and I am headed to another lake house tomorrow for the rest of the week.  There's something relaxing about hanging out near water.

Maybe that's why Eden was at the crossroads of rivers.

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Benjamin Zander on music and passion

20:46 of brilliance by a leading interpreter of Mahler and Beethoven. Here, he plays Chopin.

This is really worth the watch.

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Freedom of Information: How a Wisconsin School District Ditched Internet Filters | Edutopia

Freedom of Information: How a Wisconsin School District Ditched Internet Filters

By Edutopia


Among the more memorable people I met at last week's ISTE conference in Denver is a renegade technology director from Racine, Wisconsin. Just a few months after his promotion from network manager to director of information systems of the Racine Unified School District last summer, Tim Peltz made a revolutionary move: he removed the firewalls that had blocked students from many parts of the Internet. He didn't just remove a brick here and there. He tore those walls completely down.


-- Grace Rubenstein, is a senior producer at Edutopia

Brave tech director? Forward-thinking, at least.

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Leonie Haimson: The most dangerous man in America

All this, despite the fact that an expert panel from the National Academy of Sciences pointed out that there was no research backing for this agenda, and urged caution before the federal government essentially bribed cash-strapped states to enact its provisions.

Since the panel's findings had to go through a lengthy peer review process, as does all good science, it did not make the short deadline that the US DOE set for public feedback on the "Race to the Top" proposals, leaving them free to ignore it.

When George W. Bush adopted environmental policies that ignored the scientific consensus from expert bodies like the National Academy of Sciences, he rightfully got blasted by advocates and the mainstream media. Where was the outrage when the NAS experts on testing and evaluation were ignored by the Obama administration? Instead, there was ....silence. The NAS warning was pretty much ignored, as educators and politicians were steamrolled by an undemocratic oligopoly of the deep-pocketed Gates Foundation and elected officials (some authoritarian types like NYC's Bloomberg, others merely weak-kneed and cowed by the inside-the-beltway group think.).

But the Gates Foundation has been quite clever in ignoring or suppressing evidence that contradicts its corporate mindset.

This is just a sample of the larger article, worth a read if you care in the least about what's good for the proper education of our nation's children.

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Saturday, July 10, 2010

Teacher Magazine: Moving Students By Ability, Not Grade

Published: July 6, 2010

Moving Students By Ability, Not Grade

Now this is an interesting idea that could work really well. But it would require most of the community getting on board with it to really make it work.
Still, aren't these kinds of things more worthy of a try than simply firing staff and closing schools?

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

First night at Plymouth

Kids these days...
OK, I know it's not nice to start a post that way, but I am in a dorm at Plymouth State University, and it has air conditioning and a private bath.
So what I was going to say was, kids these days who go to college don't know how good they have it.
When I went to college, and stayed in one of the nicest dorms on campus, I had to share two bathrooms with 6 other people!
I know, I know. Someone out there had it even worse than that.
You know, they don't even put hard line phones in the rooms anymore. I remember at UVM in 19somethingsomething, having to wait for a pay phone. And if someone called me, anyone on my floor might answer it, and maybe get a message right or maybe not. I remember when all the rooms got their own phones - that was a huge deal. Now everybody comes with cell phones.
About the only thing cramping my style right now is that I am posting this from my BlackBerry - which you will see, because all my emails from this device have an automatic signature, and since I cannot get online yet with my computer, I can't fix it.
Apparently, I was supposed to get a packet when I checked in which would have explained the procedure and given me a password to get online. Guess I'll get that tomorrow when I check in to the actual conference.
Also, no TV, though there's a cable drop in the room. In my day we went to the common area to watch TV with rabbit ears, and hoped we wanted to watch the same thing as other people. Or, we brought a little TV to our rooms. Still - rabbit ear reception wasn't all that great.
My folks got cable TV after I went away to college. Before that, they had deemed it unnecessary, much like the microwave they decided to get at some point during my junior or senior years.
Times change. Technology improves, becomes more prevalent, and even changes to the point where sometimes things go away all over again.
Like rabbit ears, and phones in all the rooms on a big campus switchboard system.
And now we're back to one campus phone in the hallway for emergencies.
Kids these days. They don't know how good they have it!
It's an adventure.

Achievement Gap Mystery Partly Solved - It's Murder - Living in Dialogue - Education Week Teacher

There's a lot of talk about the "achievement gap" on standardized tests. It's even been referred to as a "civil rights issue."

But "the powers that be," led by Secretary Arne Duncan and President Obama, don't seem to understand the underlying causes of the achievement gap, and are hell bent on extorting states to enact their pet strategies and plans, in spite of the fact that they've already been tried and found to fail.

I will also say once again how asinine it is that education policy is made without educators. Duncan has never been a teacher, and neither has Obama. Politicians do NOT belong making decisions about education policy - teachers should be making the decisions.

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