- According to news reports, New Jersey governor Chris Christie is on the verge of announcing that the state will take over the deeply troubled Camden school district. During my tenure with the NJDOE, though the state controlled aspects of three other districts, Camden was always at or near the front of our minds. The condition of the city, especially the state of its schools, is as tragic as I’ve seen. Decades of nationwide experience demonstrate that state takeovers of districts are beset by a long list of challenges—educational, financial, political, and organizational. But if there’s any Governor bold enough to push through the obstacles, it’s Chris Christie. And if there’s any state chief with the brain, heart, and backbone to make it work, it’s my old boss, Chris Cerf. There are tough days, weeks, and months ahead, I’m sure, but I’m confident that this is in the best interest of Camden’s long underserved boys and girls.
- If you like data—especially if you’re in the “data-driven-decision-making-can-solve-everything!” camp—this story from the NYT Metropolitan section is definitely worth a read. Actually, if you’re worried about the pronounced use of data in education—especially if you’re in the “we’re-turning-our-kids-into-widgets!” camp—you probably want to read it, too. The first few paragraphs about identifying oil-dumping scofflaws pretty much summarize the piece: If we collect enough data and analyze it the right way, heavens, the problems we can solve. Lots of people nowadays talk about
Anyone who knows a teenager understands how hard it is to get into a good college these days. We’ve all heard of some bright eighteen-year-old with a stellar GPA, sky-high SAT scores, fives on a half-dozen AP courses, and a service record like Mother Theresa’s who still couldn’t manage to get into her university of choice. (Colleges mail acceptance letters this week.) What gives?
It’s particularly mysterious since national and international exams keep telling us that American high schoolers aren’t, by and large, making any significant achievement gains. Yet when it comes time to apply to college, the crème-de-la-crème appear to be rising further to the top. As proof, see this chart below. It shows, for the nation’s fifty most selective institutions,* the SAT scores that put one at the 25th percentile of the freshman class (in other words, toward the lower range of what it takes to get into these schools).
One possible explanation for this phenomenon is simple supply and demand. The demographic bulge known as the Baby Boom Echo has made its way through our high schools and into college in recent years. The supply of seats at elite colleges hasn’t increased (much to these schools’ discredit), yet demand for those seats—from well-prepared students—has gone up significantly. And that’s because there are simply more students to begin with (about a million more students per class than when I graduated high school in 1991).
A first look at today's most important education news:
"Does the percentage of students taking AP exams explain state level results?," by Aaron Churchill, Ohio Gadfly Daily
Chicago’s fifty-four school closures has communities in an uproar. The Chicago Sun Times contends that students at a third of the closed schools will not be attending schools better than the ones they are leaving. Mayor Emanuel stands his ground. (Huffington Post and Chicago Sun Times)
After losing funding via sequestration, school-district advocates are asking for greater flexibility with the funds they do have. (Politics K-12)
Though girls outperform boys in high school, boys make up nearly 60 percent of New York City’s top specialized high schools. (New York Times)
After a federal investigation, a Mississippi high school has agreed to end discriminatory disciplinary practices in which black students face more severe punishment than whites. (Huffington Post)
According to a new report from the National Catholic Education Association, Catholic school enrollment remains on the decline. (Charters & Choice)
The federal government is seeking homegrown “digital warriors.” (New York Times)
New Jersey is considering a state takeover of the Camden school district. (Wall Street Journal)
A first look at today's most important education news:
"Catherine the Great, Frederick Douglass, and education reform," by Andy Smarick, Flypaper
"Accountability dilemmas," by Chester E. Finn, Jr., Education Gadfly Weekly
In the largest mass school closing in U.S. history, Chicago will close fifty-four public schools and consolidate another eleven into other schools, affecting 30,000 kids and infuriating teachers and parents. (Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and National Public Radio)
There exist signs of life in New York City’s teacher-evaluation debate. (Wall Street Journal)
In the Senate’s budget debate, Republicans push for a federal voucher program. (Politics K–12)
The Carnegie Corporation will launch the SpringPoint Institute, which will provide grants and supports to school districts. (Inside School Research)
An Education Week commentary argues that the Common Core should be “considered the floor and not the ceiling” with regards to achievement.
The latest edition of the Digital Learning Report Card has Utah, Florida, Georgia, Virginia, and Kansas leading the pack in terms of high-quality K–12 digital learning. (Digital Education)
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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