Though I would much prefer to write about “democracy,” which is the hot topic these days, or even mention our pilgrims progress, those pioneers who survived rough winters and stopped to appreciate their bounty, I must interrupt this program to urge Flypaper fans to cozy up to ednext.org and be thankful for the new issue of Education Next. Cover-to-cover, it’s a blessing.
Okay, I’m a dying breed. I carried the print version of the Winter 2012 issue around most of the last several days – scribbling in the margins, spilling coffee on the pictures, throwing pages on the passenger seat, breaking the binding back and perching the salt shaker on it at breakfast – I guarantee you this is a Thanksgiving feast. Even online! (Full disclosure, I am a contributing editor at the magazine, have a story in the issue (see below), and am biased.)
But I guarantee you, you won’t leave this issue hungry:
Play Ball! This June Kronholz cover story takes us curriculum afficianados to a new playing field. “There’s not a straight line between the crochet club and the Ivy League,” writes Kronholz, “[b]ut a growing body of research says there is a link between afterschool activities and graduating from high school, going to college and becoming a responsible citizen.”
This story sets us on a trajectory of common sense that is much needed in our polarized and partisan education policy world. I hesitate to use the word, but organic
The other night, during one of our marathon budget workshops, we heard from a woman who had started a ?walking school bus? pilot program in one of our schools.? It's part of an anti-obesity grant and she had a wealth of information about the benefits of walking to school. She warned, ?We are raising a generation of kids who are afraid to walk.?? As soon as she finished, several hands shot up; parents worried about ice and snow, worried about roads without sidewalks, worried about kidnappers?..? My board colleagues immediately ditched the notion of cutting back on busing.? And it occurred to me that perhaps we are already well into the second generation of kids afraid to walk.? And so the obesity epidemic continues, with its many deleterious physical, emotional, and economic effects.? As a Times' headline today has it, Heavy in School, Burdened for Life. Three social scientists write that ?obesity affects not only health but also economic outcomes: overweight people have less success in the job market and make less money over the course of their careers?.? ?The researchers find that fat women are more prone to educational and economic disadvantage than fat men, but the point is that ?obesity is occurring in children at younger and younger ages, so prevention needs to start as early as primary school.?
Get out of the school buses, folks.
--Peter Meyer, Bernard Lee Schwartz Policy Fellow
Though Deborah Meier's newest post on Bridging Differences is ostensibly about hypocrisy (she says she tells her left-wing friends that ?we should honor hypocrisy?), I was drawn to her reference to habits of mind.? The phrase is one of the most useful in understanding the huge responsibility of our public school system.? In fact, the epigraph I chose for my story on the Catalyst charter schools in Chicago is all about habits. It's from the Old Testament (Proverbs 22:6): ?Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.??
The power of a habit should be indisputable, but the nature of the habit, especially?a habit?of the mind,?is subject to some misdirection.? (Dare I remind our readers that drug addictions, etc. are also habits.)
Meier suggests a 2007 blog essay by Bruce Schauble (who says he is Director of Instruction at Punahou School in Honolulu, Hawaii) as a good summary of the field; and I trust her judgment on this. Schauble reviews?Ted Sizer's habits of mind ? perspective, analysis, imagination, etc., -- and Meier's habits ? evidence, connections, viewpoints/cause and effect, etc. ? and those of Arthur Costa and Bena Kallick, at the Institute for Habits of Mind ?? thinking and communicating with clarity and precision, managing impulsivity, gathering data through all senses, etc. ? but he leaves out Sizer's important introduction to the whole?subject:
Good schools are places where
NPR's Morning Edition has been running a series on youth violence in Chicago ? this morning's story is here.? And it's worth paying attention to. ?I just finished a story for Ed Next on two new charter schools in the badlands of Chicago's Westside (Catholic Ethos, Public Education) and know that if there's any single challenge that defies a quick fix in our inner city schools, it is this: violence.?
I have, over the years, done a great deal of reporting on childhood violence (see my book Death of Innocence), meeting my share of horror along the way.? It is not a continuum; it is a swamp.? (The book I wanted to write on the subject is called The Triple A of Childhood Violence: Armed, Angry and Amoral.) There is nothing worse than seeing a child arrive at school in the morning?bearing the scars of such terror -- these kids are victims.? (I have met kids who, academically, are reading two grade levels ahead of their peers, but who are unable to eat lunch using a fork and spoon.) But I can't help but looking at these kids and thinking, `They are learning the ways of violence.' ?And though there is plenty of research linking environmental and domestic victimization of children -- sexual abuse is a terribly underreported story here -- to future behavioral problems (that's the anger part), I'm sure anyone who has ever worked in a
- Stretching the School Dollar
- Common Core Watch
- Ohio Gadfly Daily
- Board's Eye View
- Choice Words
About the Editor
Peter Meyer is an adjunct fellow with the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Since 1991, Meyer has focused his attentions on education reform in the United States, an interest joined while writing a profile of education reformer E.D. Hirsch for Life. Meyer subsequently helped found a charter school, served on his local Board of Education (twice) and, for the last eight years, has been an editor at Education Next.
Sign Up for updates from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute
- Daniel Willingham: Science and Education Blog
- National School Board Association’s School Board News Today
- National Governors Association Center for Best Practices
- Texas Association of School Boards
- New York State School Board Association
- Florida School Boards Association
- California School Boards Association
- Program on Education Policy and Governance
- The Center for Research on Education Outcomes