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Today Fordham proudly releases David Whitman's latest book, Sweating the Small Stuff: Inner-City Schools and the New Paternalism. (We don't subscribe to the Bush Administration's maxim that, "from a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August." After all, it's back-to-school time!)

The book is now available via Amazon, but if you want to dig in right away, read this Gadfly editorial by Checker Finn and Marci Kanstoroom or, even better, print out and read this Education Next excerpt. Here's the heart of Whitman's argument (who is, by the way, a freelance journalist and former senior writer at U.S. News & World Report):

Above all, these schools [American Indian Public Charter School, Amistad Academy, Cristo Rey, KIPP, SEED, and University Park Campus School] share a trait that has been largely ignored by education researchers: They are paternalistic institutions. By paternalistic I mean that each of the six schools is a highly prescriptive institution that teaches students not just how to think, but also how to act according to what are commonly termed traditional, middle-class values.

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You know a debate has gone negative when the biblical references come out. As reported by this riveting Washington Post article , Washington, D.C.'s teachers are in the middle of an all-out generational war over Chancellor Michelle Rhee's proposal to offer dramatically higher pay to instructors who boost student achievement and are willing to give up tenure. For the veteran teachers, here's Jerome Blocks, 59:

"It's degrading and insulting," said Brocks, to ask that teachers give up tenure and go on probation for a year if they choose the more lucrative of the two salary tiers under the plan, which is at the center of contract negotiations between the city and the Washington Teachers' Union.

He said that Rhee wants only to purge older teachers and that for instructors to sell out hard-won protections against arbitrary or unfair dismissal is unthinkable.

"For Michelle Rhee or anyone to ask that is like Judas and 30 pieces of silver."

Um, Mr. Brocks, the proposal wouldn't require any veteran teachers to opt in to the performance-based plan, nor would it allow any teacher to sell out any other teacher. So please explain the Judas analogy?

The...

Gadfly Studios

Another day, another stirring rendition of the Finnish national anthem, another taste of utter defeat for the Americans. Where did the United States go wrong?

Education Olympics Today tries to answer that question in an EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW. Today, the United States Education Olympics Committee's very own Deep Throat speaks out.

Not content to have already won four Education Olympics medals, Taiwan (Chinese Taipei according to the Chinese government) is calling for an overhaul of its secondary education system! The Taipei Times reports that Premier Liu Chao-shiuan wants to see a plan in the next four weeks on how to improve exit exam scores of graduating students.

No, I'm not kidding.

The insatiable Sol Stern is back with another broadside on the Bloomberg/Klein administration. This time he takes the Gotham group to task for poor decisions and faulty leadership on reading.

New York City's 2002 shift to mayoral control of the schools created a unique opportunity.... Introducing his education-reform plan... Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that schools in the past had enjoyed too much autonomy, with "a baffling profusion of approaches to teaching the three Rs throughout the city." Now, there would be "one, unified, focused, streamlined chain of command [and] the Chancellor's office will dictate the curriculum and pedagogical methods." The mayor promised that reading instruction in the early grades would "employ strategies proven to work," including "a daily focus on phonics."

But in a tragically mistaken policy decision, Klein went in the opposite direction on reading, franchising out most instructional decisions to a group of progressive educators who regarded it as a crime to teach children how to read through scripted phonics programs. Under the influence of his deputy chancellor for teaching and learning, Diana Lam, Klein chose an approach called Balanced Literacy for the system's core reading program starting in September 2003. The city's version of

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Liam Julian

What a refreshing Gadfly is on offer this lovely August week. We begin with an essay from Checker and Marci, who write about David Whitman's forthcoming book (to be released tomorrow, in fact), Sweating the Small Stuff: Inner-City Schools and the New Paternalism. (Psst.... Did he say paternalism? Indeed he did.) Then we progress to a short bit by me that attends to several findings from the new Education Next-Harvard survey??of adults' attitudes about education. And then we really get into it, with five recommended readings that merrily skip among characters??such as??Al Sharpton and Gloria Estefan.

And what about that podcast? Stafford makes her sparkling debut this week. And steady cast members Mike, Rick, and Amber turn in yet another brilliant and incisive performance....

The education blogosphere is up in arms about America's poor performance at the Education Olympics. Matthew Tabor can't believe "we're losing to a bunch of friggin' Finns." The Core Knowledge Blog calls it "a national embarrassment." Meanwhile, BoardBuzz reminds us that international comparisons are "more than a horse race" (and skoolboy gives us another close look at said horse race).

Michael Phelps might have taken a day off, but we're here 24-7. (Well, except for weekends, to be honest.)...

Gadfly Studios

Oh world, beware ye Finland's wrath!

For fearless are their bosoms when

A PISA test stands in their path

In reading, science, or in math.

Though sharpened are their Number Twos,

Still sharper are their well-trained minds;

Their foes they flummox and confuse

As Ed Olympics gold accrues!

More at edolympics.net

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