Saturday, May 14, 2005
More Huffie News...Now Piscal Has Gone Wild!
Where is Snoop? First it was Goldstein going wild and baring it all in Boston! Now, outstanding principal, good guy, savvy poker player, favorite football coach of Meryl Streep, Eduwonk friend, and current Huffie Mike Piscal has gone wild, too!
In his inaugural Huffie Post post he lays out some depressing numbers about South LA:
• 62,000 school children in grades K-12. If it were its own school district, it would be the 5th largest in the state of California.
• There are 3,950 students in the 9th Grade at the four major high schools: Crenshaw, Dorsey, Manual Arts, and Washington Preparatory.
• Only around 1,600 graduate from these four high schools.
• Over 2,300 drop out.
Each year, of the 1,600 graduates from the big 4 high schools in South Los Angeles only 900 go to college. Of the 900 who attend college, only 258 graduate from college...Half a billion a year and the end result is 258 college graduates a year!!!
He spreads around some blame and names names...
And remember, most importantly, no more charter schools in places like South LA...they might really screw things up!!!
Jenny D. V. The Huffies Or...Why Does Jenny D. Hate Old People? Updated!
Jenny D. attacks Huffie poster Sherry Lansing. But is the Huffie's idea so bad? With proper screening (pun intended!) and training it would be sort of Elderhostel meets Teach For America...and, seriously, a good national service opportunity to boot!
Update: Rodel's Carol Peck writes about one retiree in action!
Update II: A reader writes:
Sherry Lansing has been on Teach For America's national board for a long time and she actually has high school teaching experience in Los Angeles . While that doesn't make her immune to criticism, it is completely unfair to say that she shouldn't be taken seriously because she is simply a "Hollywood celebrity." The greater irony is that there was a time when she was fighting an uphill battle to be taken seriously as a woman executive in Hollywood because she was merely a "former teacher." She actually has talked for years about the need to open more paths for mid-careers and retirees to enter teaching, but now she has time to think more about it and figure outways to engage. I doubt seriously that she has an ideological bent ontraining and certification - just more of an honest assessment that there are people who could be great teachers but there are too many barriers and not enough opportunities. Anyway, she's not a lightweight- she actually has been thinking about education issues for years.
In an outstanding new report (pdf) Jobs for the Future's Nancy Hoffman takes a look at dual enrollment programs and outlines state strategies to expand these opportunities.
And, for serious dual enrollment junkies your tax dollars are at work! Two new NCES studies provide some baseline data. Dual credit and exam-based credit course-taking and dual enrollment data.
Last Sunday the NY Daily News ed board weighed-in on the NYC teachers' contract. It was the first of a series, Monday's editorial here, Tuesday's here, Wednesday's here. Less important on specifics (though the Daily News does challenge both the Bloomberg-Klein administration and the UFT to get it right, an important point because both sides sign any contract) which are debatable than as an example of how isolated the teachers' unions are becoming nationally on this issue.
Essentially, the current state of affairs persists because of political muscle rather than broad intellectual buy-in. Some folks inside the teachers' unions clearly get this, but that view is not widespread. Ominously, some in the private sector labor community are starting to make noise about this, too.
In her biography of Picasso, Gertrude Stein observes that, "It is an extraordinary thing but it is true, wars are only a means of publicizing the things already accomplished, a change, a complete change, has come about, people no longer think as they were thinking but no one knows it, no one recognizes it, no one really knows it except the creators...
...The sprit of everybody is changed, of a whole people is changed, but mostly nobody knows it and a war forces them to recognize it because during a war the appearance of everything changes very much quicker, but the entire change has been accomplished and the war is only something which forces everyone to recognize it."
She was writing about cubism, and war, but it seems applicable here. Seems like there is a big change coming on this issue and a generalized consensus about the nature of the problems -- though too few people are willing to go on the record.
So you decide! Joel Klein, Alan Bersin, Roy Romer, Arlene Ackerman, Steven Adamowski, and Eli Broad as the Lost Generation? Rod Paige as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Margaret Spellings as Zelda? With his upcoming book does Joe Williams secure his place as Stein? Who is Toklas?
Also, Wash. Post's Dobbs profiles Joel Klein and what's happening in NYC. In yesterday's WSJ Diane Ravitch took after Bloomberg and Klein. Odd politics, Klein, a Democrat, needs a Republican mayor to win so he can stay in his post and that Republican is under attack from conservatives. Never a dull moment!
Nathan Writes On Writing
MN's Joe Nathan writes-up some student essays about experiences in charter schools.
Today's Washington Post profiles key Department of Education players on the Federal Page. Big deal...
But here's an Eduwonk Exclusive! Testifying before Congress, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings has at last publicly demonstrated her primary technique for keeping former secretary Rod Paige in line from 2001-2004. Maybe that lobbyist was wise to be terrified?
CA's Legislative Analyst's Office takes a look at the high school issue there. Handy overview.
New Carnival of Education blogs is up at EdWonk.
New SFA Study
In the reading wars, this is like getting a few new divisions for Success For All or at least a tank.
NYT's Freedman looks at the tradition of Peace Corps volunteerism at the University of Wisconsin.
Knee jerk criticism: This is no good though, they only serve two years!* Oh wait, never mind, that's the knee jerk (and not accurate) criticism of Teach For America...
*To be clear, this is a joke. The Eduwife is a returned PCV (Kyrgyzstan '97-99). It's an outstanding program (one former ambassador once told Eduwonk that he thought it was the most valuable thing the United States spends money on foreign policywise simply because of the local relationship building).
You'd think he'd just be exempted from the class rather than thrown out...
A little bird tells Eduwonk that a shared block of tickets to Washington Nationals games has brought together the plaintiff and defense bars on some of these contentious special education cases like Schaffer v. Weast (pdf)...
Overview and policy choices (pdf) from WestEd. Useful primer for the states.
Per this, the U.S. Department of Ed has proposed a policy. Ed Week here.
This likely will not cause a dramatic drop in schools not making Adequate Yearly Progress. Though disabled kids are being fingered as the reason for a lot of schools not making AYP, the fact is that with the achievement gaps that now exist in all kinds of communities they're being scapegoated. To be clear, there are some schools that are being identified because of special education only, but that's not the majority.
Update: By way of example, Boardbuzz touts this Chicago Sun-Times story noting that 142 Illinois schools did not make adequate yearly progress solely because of special education students. True enough, but the story gave no overall number for context. Looks like about 700 Illinois Title I schools are not making adequate yearly progress (that figure excludes non-Title I schools that are also not making AYP which makes the total number larger). Right now, to make AYP in Illinois a school must meet the following performance targets:
- Schools must have 40% or more of the students' test scores in the "meets" or "exceeds" level: Subgroups must have a 37% in reading and math.
- Schools must have a 95% participation rate on state assessments overall and by subgroup.
- Elementary and middle schools must have an attendance rate of 89%. High schools must have a graduation rate of 66%.
So to make AYP it takes about four in ten students reading and doing math at what IL considers grade level along with the participation and attendance/graduation rate requirements. Unreasonable? You decide. But in any event, with achievement gaps like those that exist in IL (for instance, statewide in 2003 76 percent of white students were proficient in reading by 3rd grade, but only 35 percent of black students) a lot of schools won't meet these targets. Update II: New technology! The riddle of putting charts on blogger is now solved! The chart below shows 2002-03 3rd-grade reading proficiency numbers for IL.
Source: Standard and Poor's Schoolmatters.com
Bottom line, the IL gaps are not unique and the pressure to relax NCLB's requirements isn't going to ease even with these special ed "fixes." Although the special ed accountability issue is a real one (and a complicated one), it's not the special needs kids driving the numbers of schools not making AYP. Either we're going to bite the bullet on disaggregated accountability or not.
In MN, a public charter school that primarily serves deaf and hard of hearing students (yes, more skimming!) launched a service project to help local restaurants improve their interactions with hearing impaired patrons. The project ended up garnering national attention and TGI Fridays may utilize it nationwide.
Also, a new CSLC report (pdf) by Greg Vanourek looks at the state of public charter schooling today. A useful round-up.
Buried Lede...Does CT Expect Less From Black Kids?
In the middle of Wash. Post's Sunday look at CT and No Child Left Behind is this:
[State Schools Commissioner] Sternberg concedes that Connecticut's achievement gap "looks horrendous" but blames demographics. Black students, who predominantly live in big cities, are performing about the same as black students in other states, she said. White students, who tend to live in the suburbs, are faring significantly better than white students nationwide.
Is she saying they're doing about as well as they can?
Because actually, according to NAEP, achievement for African-American youngsters in CT is only about average -- and that's not an impressive average -- so the state's claim that they have everything in hand deserves a bit more scrutiny...
More to the point, if it's the position of CT that minority kids can't learn as much, or are doing about as well as can be expected, because of demographics they should be forthright about it with state taxpayers, especially minority ones. For a much better look at CT and minority achievement (and some actual scrutiny) there in particular, this NYT story from last weekend is must-reading. Finally, this is a very profound statement, why couldn't reporter Michael Dobbs be bothered to unpack it and provide some context rather than sinking it in the middle of a pretty pedestrian political piece? Plenty of folks with strong views on both sides, and some data even...it really cuts to the nub of the issue.
Bring your own lawyer to Montgomery County, MD! The Supreme Court is going to hear the Schaffer v. Weast case (which originated there) about the burden of proof in special education cases hopefully settling an ongoing issue (and hopefully not throwing school districts into a hopeless legal morass). Now, another case worth watching concerning the county's controversial sex-ed program. A federal judge temporarily blocked the program on Friday.
Interesting article about an effort to track college-going rates among Chicago students. Isn't an equally important question the one buried in the very last graf, how many finish college?
It's not only the political left that worries about what genies are going to fly out of the charter/small school bottle...problem is, aren't all public schools inherently political? That's not to say this is necessarily bad, on the contrary actually. Specifics aside (which are dodgy in this case), this school illustrates that conundrum.
When discussing irrational situations it's a cliché to say, "if an alien landed they'd…" But, apparently, no kidding, if an alien landed, they'd be concerned with salaries for math and science teachers.