Houston We Have A Problem

Two good reads from the Houston Chronicle. On the op-ed page Glenn W. Smith challenges the Texas Legislature to do right by kids there instead of setting ridiculously low standards that hamstring poor and minority youngsters. Meanwhile, the editorial board pleads for better quality teaching and less rote memorization but does not indict standards and testing. It’s a subtle but vital point. Good quality tests and accountability in and of themselves do not lead to reductive teaching, it’s how schools and teachers approach them that matters.

Foreign Students in Higher Ed

Interesting article from the AP about problems foreign students seeking to attend American colleges and universities are having with visas.

It’s an issue, but don’t be fooled into thinking that educational issues are the primary cause of all the concern. Universities are probably most worried because these students most often pay the full tuition cost providing a tidy fiscal boon.

Link thanks to Educationnews.org

Update: More isolationism

Another reason liberals should love NCLB…

…all the data is a boon for litigation in the states aimed at making state school finance systems more equitable. Daniel C. Vock explains why in the new Catalyst Chicago.

The punchline, as Michael Rebell a school finance attorney explains in the article, is:

“…these reforms require students to take standardized tests and hold teachers and schools accountable for how well students perform. Through these requirements, states define what the standards are for an adequate education and provide data to show whether or not those standards are being met. If students do not, the data eases the way for plaintiffs to prove to a judge that the state isn’t meeting its obligation…”

New Motto?

Slate’s Mickey Kaus suggests a new motto for Eduwonk, “…reading those mushy, brain-numbing education stories so you don’t have to!”

It’s sure got a certain ring! But we’re going to stick with Education News and Analysis from the Progressive Policy Institute’s 21st Century Schools Project at least for now…

Going South in North Carolina

The North Carolina State Education Board wants to stop testing out-of-state teachers to see if they know the subject they teach. The stated rationale: to address teacher shortages so NC can meet No Child Left Behind’s “highly-qualified teacher” requirements. Of course, the point of the NCLB requirements is to make sure teachers understand the subjects they teach! Here is a tip-off that the proposed plan is a bad idea: Both current Governor Mike Easley and former Governor Jim Hunt oppose it.

A more promising approach might be to think about reducing some certification coursework barriers — North Carolina’s are among the most burdensome.

Brown…what now?

The USA Today editorial board and Angelo Ancheta of the Harvard Civil Rights Project debate the legacy of Brown. The editors say it’s time to address the minority achievement gap while Ancheta highlights the failure to follow through on desegregation as a cause of educational problems. Really both are right and the Civil Rights Project has done excellent work documenting the extent of segregation and re-segregation in schools. Problem is, the political time has passed for many of their preferred remedies. Complaining about Dowell and other decisions does not do a lot of good now. For the most part, the ideas put forward by the editorial board have more immediate saliency for kids in low-performing schools.