Reforms, shots, and brawls

Achieve released the second draft of the Next Generation Science Standards this week. Project-leader Stephen told Education Week that the new draft is quite different from the old one. Here’s hoping that’s true. Stay tuned for a review from our own science experts.

In a study released at last weekend’s American Economics Association conference, researchers argue that mandatory vaccination programs—in addition to reducing morbidity rates from the relevant childhood diseases—effectively increase students’ likelihood of graduating from high school, possibly because of the weeks of school that ailing kids would miss. Interestingly, this effect was twice as strong among minority students.

The tiff over teacher evaluations in New York City turned into an all-out brawl after Mayor Bloomberg likened the United Federation of Teachers to the NRA in his weekly radio show last Friday. The timing of this particular analogy may have been unfortunate. Still and all, the overarching point he sought to make was valid: Teacher-union leaders, like those of some other interest groups, might be out of sync with their membership. Bloomberg seems to have fallen victim to an old political landmine: Telling the truth.

Last week, the Atlantic ran a moving story by the mother of an autistic child whose public school teachers, despite the best of intentions, were largely unequipped to help him. In the end, the best option for her child was homeschooling—what she describes as a tough, protracted, but ultimately rewarding decision.

The New Jersey Education Association is suing to stop the state’s charter schools from availing themselves of blended learning in the classrooms. While the legal argument rests on the fact that the legislature has not yet evaluated such approaches, the union’s true motives are clear: It has foreseen that effective digital learning could cause schools to hire fewer teachers. For more, check out this week’s podcast.

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