One of the great joys of parenthood is reading to my two young sons. Partly it’s the visceral experience: Little guys curled up on my lap, in their PJ’s, soft light overhead, the day winding down, sleep coming (well, one can hope). But it’s also about the books: An endless treasure trove of stories to share, pictures to enjoy, traditions to pass along.
So I got to wondering: Is there a list of the must-read picture books for preschoolers? The greatest classics, old and new? A “canon,” if you will? I couldn’t find one, so I decided to create one. With help from some friends, I now present to you the Kindergarten Canon (download the pdf version here):
1 is One - Tasha Tudor
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day - Judith Viorst & Ray Cruz
Anansi the Spider - Gerald McDermott
Amazing Grace - Mary Hoffman & Caroline Binch
Are You My Mother? - P.D. Eastman
Bear Called Paddington, A - Michael Bond
If only Michaelangelo had taken on voucher accountability too.
Photo by ideacreamanuelaPps
But how upset should one really be about the AP report from Louisiana that some of the private schools participating in the Pelican State’s new voucher program “teach creationism and reject evolution”?
State Superintendent of Education John White offered the correct policy response: All voucher students must participate in the state assessments, which include science. “If students are failing the test, we’re going to intervene, and the test measures [their understanding of] evolution.” In other words, the schools can do what they like but if their voucher-bearing students don’t learn enough to pass the state tests, the state will do something about it—ultimately (under Louisiana regulations) eliminating those schools from eligibility to participate in the program.
That ought to be the policy response to everything that district and charter schools do too: “You’re free to operate your school as you see fit (within the bounds of health-and-safety rules) but you’re also accountable for your students’ results, which we—the state—will
The flap over quality control, academic fraud, false claims, and shortcuts in the world of credit recovery will not die down until American education (and the elected officials who set its key policies) face up to two realities.
- Universal “college and career readiness,” unless far more carefully defined and monitored than anyone has done so far, is just as fraud-inducing a K-12 goal as “universal proficiency by 2014” was for No Child Left Behind. A noble objective indeed, but so hard to attain—in a land where high school diplomas signify scant “readiness” and more than a quarter of young people drop out before getting them—that today’s push for both universality and readiness impels a lot of folks to cut corners.
- At day’s end, there are just three ways of awarding “credit” for work done in (or out) of school (and conferring diplomas or equivalency certificates based on that credit): “seat time” as traditionally measured
Arne Duncan visits an example of the original credit-recovery program: summer school.
Photo by U.S. Department of Education.
In July 2011, the National Research Council released its Framework for K-12 Science Education, intended to serve as the basis for a new set of “next generation” science standards (NGSS) for primary-secondary-school science in the United States. Since then, twenty-six states came together, working with Achieve and a vast team of writers, to develop those new standards. They hope to do for science what the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association did for English language arts and math: develop expectations that are at least as clear and rigorous as the best state standards and that many states may adopt in common, presumably then to be joined by common assessments. Unfortunately, a careful review of version 1.0 indicates that this laudable but ambitious goal remains a considerable distance away.
There's still work to be done on the NGSS.
Photo by Andrew Magill.
It’s important for the country that the NGSS endeavor yields a high-quality result, which is why we set out to scrutinize the first draft. (It was released for public comment in May. A revised draft is expected late this year with the final standards due in 2013.) We assume that, like the Common Core State Standards initiative that preceded it, many changes
About the Editor
Michael J. Petrilli
Executive Vice President
Mike Petrilli is one of the nation's foremost education analysts. As executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, he oversees the organization's research projects and publications and contributes to the Flypaper blog and weekly Education Gadfly newsletter.
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