Interesting news from the pod-waves, the blogosphere, and Romania

Tim Hoffine, Dan Woolf
  • Education Next featured TBFI president Chester E. Finn, Jr. in its newest podcast, in which he explains that the ESEA is unlikely to face complete reauthorization this year.  Aside from five or six main No Child Left Behind problems to be resolved, more than 1,100 pages of federal education programs remain to be fought over.  
  • This Intelligence Squared podcast (transcript) asks panelists to debate the statement “Don’t blame teachers’ unions for our failing schools.” Panelists include AFT president Randi Weingarten in support, with former U.S. Education secretary (and TBFI board member) Rod Paige opposed. Don’t miss this feisty debate—the full audio version is free at the iTunes online store.
  • Following recent articles on friction against charter schools in Harlem, the NYTimes’ blog Room for Debate recently examined “The Push Back on Charter Schools,” which highlights pockets of resistance to charter schools throughout the country. 
  • Education Secretary Arne Duncan recently announced, on the 45th anniversary of the “Bloody Sunday” civil rights protest, that his department’s Office of Civil Rights will be stepping up efforts to ensure discrimination isn’t taking place in America’s public schools.  The announcement revisits the debate over “disparate treatment” (i.e. intentional discrimination) versus policies that have a “disparate impact on minorities,” as George Will recently argued.  Also, see the Flypaper blog for more commentary.
  • In this report from the National Bureau of Economic Research, two researchers investigate the impact of computer access on students’ math and reading scores and computer fluency (in Romania). On the NYTimes’ Freakonomics blog, Stephen Dubner discusses the issues of correlation and causation and how this particular voucher experiment overcame them. The results (except those related to computer fluency) are somewhat surprising.

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