Additional Topics

Most of the time,
Congressional hearings on federal education research are just an opportunity
for various interested parties to plead for more money. A couple of weeks back,
however, Rep. Duncan Hunter and the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood,
Elementary, and Secondary Education held an unusually candid and (I hope)
fruitful review of this crucial but not-very-sexy policy domain. Terrific
witness list—ISUSand an outstanding testimony by former IES director Russ Whitehurst,
now of Brookings, who did more than defend his own solid track record in that
role. He pulled no punches regarding research quality (needs to be raised, not
lowered), the American Educational Research Association (another
self-interested and greedy lobby), the (complex but crucial) relationship
between IES and the rest of the Education Department, and the hopelessness of
the regional education laboratories. He also urged Congress not to “try to
dictate how states and LEAs should use findings from research,” about which he’s
mostly right. What he might not be right about are the late, lamented Reading
First program and the future relationship between IES and the National Center
for Education Statistics. Have a look for yourself.

Grover J. “Russ” Whitehurst, Testimony
on the Federal Role in Education Research: Providing Relevant Information to
Students, Parents, and Educators
(Washington, D.C.: Brookings, November
16, 2011).

Categories: 


hammer photo

If I had a hammer...
Photo by TheFixer

Newt Gingrich has issued some crazy statements
since he first took public office in 1979. Yet his latest claim—that we shouldn’t
be “entrapping kids in…child labor laws, which are truly stupid”—isn’t one of
them. In a speech at Harvard’s Kennedy School, Gingrich suggested a “work
study” program for K-12 education: Students could provide low-cost alternatives
to unionized janitors, giving these youngsters work experience, money, and
pride in their schools. This proposal to slacken child-labor laws has drawn
plenty of headlines, and even
more scorn
. But there’s something to his logic. Nonprofits like YouthBuild and the ISUS charters in Dayton, OH, in
which students work to complete high school while learning construction skills, already
offer successful models of dual academic/job-training programs. The Cristo Rey network
of Catholic schools allows their low-income students to offset tuition
costs—and gain practical job skills—through once-a-week corporate internships. These
models provide more than a paycheck and some on-the-job carpentry or accounting
skills: They give students a better sense of the working world than any personal-finance
or economics course ever could. Gadfly isn’t advocating for eight-year-olds to
don hard hats on Alaska’s oil pipeline—and...

Categories: 

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...

Categories: 
The Education Gadfly

Who knew democracy could be such a sensitive subject? When Mike wondered
whether union clout has corrupted the progressive ideals of school
boards and local control on Monday, he touched off a flurry of posts in
the ed reform blogosphere over the interplay of politics and education.
Here’s a quick recap:

Local control, teacher unions

Photo by Justin Mitchell

Randi Weingarten asked whether Mike’s real agenda was “getting rid of democratic principles” and Diane Ravitch warned
that “it’s pretty radical to go to the extreme of eliminating 15,000
school boards and centralizing everything in the big state bureaucracies
in the hope that this will suffice to silence the teachers’ unions.”
Mike responded that it was actually union-controlled school boards that were a “perversion of democracy,” and the debate was on.

On Flypaper, Choice Media founder Bob Bowdon accused
teacher unions of corrupting the democratic process through hefty
campaign contributions and serial legal challenges to popular reforms,
although Rutgers professor Bruce Baker questioned his logic and choice of examples. Over at Dropout Nation, Rishawn Biddle took issue with Ravitch’s depiction of NYC’s school reform, and Neal McCluskey of the Cato Institute concluded that democracy really doesn’t belong in education governance. In the latest...

Categories: 
The Education Gadfly

Would you like to work at the forefront of national education policy? Are you passionate about school choice and knowledgeable about education reform? A brilliant writer? Energetic, organized, imaginative, and outgoing? A leader as well as a team player? If so, you might be perfect as the director of Fordham's new program on parental choice. Visit our careers page to learn more about the position and apply.

-The Education Gadfly

Categories: 
  • To avoid a court
    injunction, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel has
    pulled back the reins
    in his plan to lengthen the school day in the
    Windy City. The thirteen schools that
    have already agreed
    (thanks to a monetary incentive) to up their
    school day by ninety minutes will keep their current bargain. But no other
    schools will be able to join that group. Just one more example of politics
    taking precedence over children.
  • Courtesy of the Center
    on Education Reform’s new district survey
    , we learn that half of
    districts eligible for school-improvement grants find it “inappropriate”
    to ask a district to turn around a failing school in three years. Of course
    this begs the question: What is an appropriate amount of time? Five years?
    Ten? Closing
    these schools may yet be the better option
    .
  • As the Common Core train races toward full
    implementation there are two potentials that might derail it: political
    backlash and cost. Kudos to California for thinking through the latter. According
    to a new analysis
    , CCSS implementation could run the Golden State $800 million.
    A hefty price tag, but remember: Divided among the 6 million-plus students in
    CA, and that figure represents around 1 percent of CA’s education spending.
  • Charter-school enrollment
    in D.C. leaped
    9 percentage points over the past year
    —nudging District charters up to
    41 percent market share. If
  • ...
Categories: 

In
kicking off Education Trust’s annual conference, Kati Haycock said that we
can’t let “bad parenting” be an excuse for poor educational results. She’s absolutely
right, of course. It’s not like our schools are running on all cylinders
(especially schools serving poor kids), and if only parents were doing their
jobs, too, achievement would soar. Sure, we’ve got several examples of school
models that are making a tremendous
difference

in educational outcomes for kids, regardless of what’s happening at home.

That
said, it strikes me as highly unlikely that we’re ever going to significantly
narrow the achievement gap between rich and poor unless we narrow the “good
parenting gap” between rich and poor families, too. (And yes, I know I’m going
to catch a lot of grief for saying that.)

We're never going to significantly
narrow the achievement gap between rich and poor unless we narrow the
'good parenting gap' between rich and poor families, too.

 
   
 

Let’s
admit it: The Broader/Bolder types are right when they say that a lot of what influences student achievement
happens outside of schools and before kids ever set foot in a Kindergarten
...

Categories: 

I glimpsed a quote from Kati Haycock yesterday, kicking off the Education Trust annual conference, saying that we can't let "bad parenting" be an excuse for poor educational results. She's absolutely right, of course. It's not like our schools are running on all cylinders (especially schools serving poor kids), and if only parents were doing their jobs too, achievement would soar. And we've got several examples of school models that are making a tremendous difference in educational outcomes for kids, regardless of what's happening at home. [quote]

That said, it strikes me as highly unlikely that we're ever going to significantly narrow the achievement gap between rich and poor unless we narrow the "good parenting gap" between rich and poor families, too. (And yes, I know I'm going to catch a lot of grief for saying that.)

Let's admit it: The Broader/Bolder types are right when they say that a LOT of what influences student achievement happens outside of schools, and before kids ever set foot in Kindergarten. Where they are wrong, I believe, is in thinking that turbo-charged government programs can compensate for the real challenge: what's happening (or not) inside the home.

Conservatives used to talk about this, but for whatever reason they've been awfully silent lately. Perhaps that's starting to change. A new book by Minnesota think tanker Mitch Pearlstein addresses the issue head on. And today, in the Washington Post, compassionate conservative Michael Gerson argues that issues like divorce and...

Categories: 

Ohio Education Gadfly Biweekly

Opinion + Analysis: 
Reviews: 
Gadfly Studios: 

Amber Winkler, Fordham's VP for Research, recently traveled China as a Senior Fellow with the Global Education Policy Fellowship Program (GEPFP). She'll be passing along her observations on education in the People's Republic with periodic ?Postcards from China.?

I've now had the opportunity to sit and peek in several schools and classrooms in Beijing, Shanghai, and Xi'an. I knew upfront that the Chinese were only going to show us what they wanted us to see--and that's proven true. In all three cities, we visited some of the best public and private schools they had to offer. Naturally, our study group is left wondering what education looks like for rural children outside the city borders and for "migrant" youngsters within city limits.? We'll keep wondering.

Still, I have a feeling that what I witnessed in these top-tier classrooms, specifically in terms of student and teacher behaviors, is rather typical of China as a whole.? These private and public institutions--a mixture of elementary, middle, and high school grades--shared some common characteristics, most of which Western educators have heard before about Chinese education. I'll expound on two.

First, Chinese teaching is dominated by direct instruction. Mostly kids sit in rows and the teacher talks--but she does so enthusiastically and often times with humor. So at no time was I bored. (In fact, we're told that teachers see part of their job as a "show" and relish the stage.) Teachers ask LOTS of questions to the class...

Categories: 

Pages