Education Gadfly Weekly
Volume 11, Number 35
September 8, 2011
Opinion + Analysis
Teaching about 9/11 in 2011
What do kids need to know? Don't ask Uncle Sam
By Tyson Eberhardt ,
A.J. Duffy's turnaround
Diane, in reverse
Conservatives vs. school choice
Keeping Detroit kids locked in public schools, again
Dressed for Success? The Effect of School Uniforms on Student Achievement and Behavior
It's what's on the inside that counts
Cracking the Code: Synchronizing Policy and Practice for Performance-Based Learning
Seat time is so senseless
Highlighting the good, ignoring the bad
Give Rick a badge and send him to Beverly Hills
It?s all business on the Education Gadfly Show Podcast this week. Mike and Rick discuss the potential of digital learning, A.J. Duffy?s change of heart, and Houston?s Apollo 20 program?and Chris taps his X-rated alter-ego.
This week, teachers across the land are greeting students, assigning seats, issuing textbooks, struggling to remember everyone’s name—and doing their best to teach one of the most challenging lessons of the year: the events of September 11, 2001, why they happened, why they matter, and why we are commemorating them.
The United States didn’t come with a warranty. It has always had to be defended against real threats and bona fide enemies.
All sorts of organizations (including ours) are jockeying to ease teachers’ burden—and influence their instruction—by offering texts, activities, guidance, even entire curricula. Some of these are fine: accurate, thorough, balanced yet patriotic. (See, for example, lessons prepared for high school students by the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.) Others, alas, are wimpy, biased, or apologetic and may well do teachers and pupils more harm than good.
The U.S. Department of Education unveiled its own dismaying contribution last week. Its “9/11 Materials for Teachers” exemplifies the creeping tendency in educator-land—especially in the woeful field known as “social studies”—to obscure the true history of September 11 and focus instead on a slanted, garbled evaluation of what followed.
September 8, 2011
Last week, former UTLA president A.J. Duffy dropped jaws, froze Hell, and launched squealing swine high into the sky when he announced the creation of his very own charter school, Apple Academy Charter Public School. The move turned heads for a few reasons, the least of which was that Duffy vehemently crusaded against charter-school growth as UTLA president. Furthermore, at Apple Academy, teachers (who will be unionized) will not be tenured, at least in the traditional sense of the word. (Teachers with positive performance reviews will receive a degree of greater job security, but it won’t be granted for life.) Further, teachers who are “tenured” at Apple Academy can still be fired—with “due-process” dismissals taking ten days (instead of the seemingly requisite three years they take now). The move has left even the most foresighted education pundits guessing as to why. But here’s Gadfly’s speculation: As head honcho and mouthpiece of UTLA, Duffy was forced to speak for the collective voice of union members—which meant speaking to protect the worst among them. With UTLA’s bullhorn retired, Duffy is free to articulate, and act on, his own opinions—no matter how inflammatory they are
September 8, 2011
In the 1970s, after seeing an exodus of white families to the suburbs, Detroit leaders attempted to instate a forced-integration busing policy, transporting black inner city youth to largely white suburban schools—and vice versa. The intended policy shift quickly made its way to the courts, finally landing with the U.S. Supreme Court. In the High Court’s 5-4 Milliken v. Bradley decision, justices ruled against the Detroit busing strategy. Thirty-seven years later, Wolverine State governor Rick Snyder has proposed a new escape valve for Detroit children trapped in lousy, and segregated, public schools: He would mandate open-enrollment school choice, in effect making district boundaries obsolete. In a scathing op-ed in the Detroit News, former Wayne County chief of staff Bill Johnson, called on Snyder to arrest his “social-engineering experiment,” arguing that the residents of Wayne County (an affluent area to which many Motown children are likely to flee) shouldn’t be responsible for “inner city students who are apt to bring a lot of baggage and few socialization skills to suburban school environments.” Ugly words—though Johnson is probably just giving voice to the (quasi-racist) sentiments of many of his fellow suburbanites (and not just in Michigan). So conservatives: Are we in favor of giving kids options, or not?