Friday, April 23, 2004
Spec Ed and Testing
John Merrow gives one of the best popular media treatments we’ve seen of the difficult issues involved in assessing students with special needs in this News Hour segment. Though we think the report does not adequately disentangle the differences between state and federal policy requirements (and also IDEA) or give viewers enough understanding of the flexibility NCLB allows for assessing disabled students, it’s well worth a look at the transcript.
Bonus content! Really like alternative assessments and special ed or just want to learn more? This article provides a good overview of some of the issues.
Kate Walsh makes a great point about state evasion of the teacher quality requirements under No Child Left Behind in a Gadfly guest column based on this National Council on Teacher Quality study.
A Columbine anniversary op-ed in the Washington Post by Lesley University President Margaret A. McKenna was so ridiculous that we added it to tendentiousness watch. Though No Child Left Behind is not without its faults it’s absurd to lay school violence at its feet too.
Turns out, when the Post held a webchat with McKenna, the general public thought so too. Lesley Unviversity isn’t Harvard but it is in Cambridge. Guess William Buckley was right after all about the first thousand names in the Cambridge phonebook….
Political afterthought: Pssst! Reflexive NCLB bashing Democrats, those Washington Post questioners are probably likely voters too!
Bonus political afterthought: Don’t believe us? Ask the NEA!
Fair and Balanced
Don’t miss Michael Dobbs’ examination of No Child Left Behind in the Washington Post. Ignore the typically inflammatory headlines; the story itself is a refreshingly balanced look at the upside and challenges of improving literacy and math instruction. Though Dobbs fails to disentangle and validate whether cutbacks in art and other activities are the result of NCLB or state budget issues that are misleadingly blamed on NCLB, he does present the other side of the coin, as bluntly stated by one principal who remarks, "It hurts me to give up art, but it hurts me even more to have kids who can't read." Of course, good schools show that this is something of a false choice. But hey, it’s an article, not a book.
Unlike much of what we've been seeing on the subject of the Columbine anniversary, Jake Rosenfeld over at the Gadflyer seems to have it about right.
Virginia Governor Mark Warner (D) signed the Charter School Excellence and Accountability Act into law on Tuesday. The law will end a cap that limits charter schools to serving no more than 10 percent of a school district's students and increase the maximum charter term to five years. A new State Board of Education Application Committee will review charter applications, though chartering authority is still restricted to local school boards.
In a series of reports beginning this week the Star Tribune will take a look at Minneapolis public schools--both district and charter--to note that Minneapolis cannot expect to raise academic achievement if schools continue to under-serve their students.
An op-ed in the Boston Globe makes the case that charter schools are here to stay and deserve to be expanded and supported in the Bay State. It dispels a few myths in the process.
Update!: You can only debunk so many myths in one op-ed! A Boston Globe reader frets that charter school teachers do not have to be certified. Could be a problem...if certification served as a useful proxy for quality.
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