Flypaper

Liam Julian

The Louisville Courier-Journal reports that almost "nine in 10 public elementary school parents in Jefferson County [Kentucky] say it's important to bring together students from different races and backgrounds to learn." (The Supreme Court ruled last year that Jefferson County may very rarely, if ever, consider race when determining how it assigns students to schools.)

But the article also notes:

At least 90 percent of parents said any changes to assignment rules should maintain family choice, minimize time on buses, allow siblings to attend together and ensure parents know which middle and high schools their children will attend.

That's a lot to ask from an assignment plan that seeks to make schools more racially diverse. All things being equal, most parents will, at least in surveys, support engineering school diversity. But in big districts like Jefferson County, parental choice and minimal time on buses??are often just logistically incompatible with racially mixed schools. Parents support diversity, but not if it means their kids attend class all the way across town and wake up at 5 a.m. each morning to catch the bus.

USA Today's Richard Whitmire turns in a provocative thumbsucker at Politico on John McCain, his (still to be fleshed out) education platform, and his top education aide (and former rodeo star) Lisa Graham Keegan. To the dismay of many education writers (not to mention Ed in '08), Whitmire reports that "education will be a back burner issue for McCain, lagging far behind terrorism and the economy, a notion not disputed by his aides."

That disappoints Whitmire, too, who offers up his own suggestions for what the candidate might embrace:

Recent victories on the reform agenda side, such as high-flying charters and the astonishing success of Teach for America, have captured the imagination of young, independent-minded Democrats. If the Democratic nominee fails to tack back to the center, these voters may be open to a switch. Pushing hard on charters, for example, could add up to a reform platform akin to Bush's "I'll bring you Texas" accountability, which fleshed out his "compassionate conservative" credentials.

Yes, that would be great, and a nice complement to some of the ideas Checker Finn and I laid out in the Weekly Standard a month ago. But everyone's kidding themselves if they think McCain is suddenly going to try to be an education president. The voters are burned out on the issue, with No Child Left Behind fatigue running deep, and McCain doesn't need to use education in the same way that President Bush...

Today's "daily article" from First Things--one of the preeminent Catholic journals in the country--provides a great write-up of Fordham's Catholic schools report.

Every generation lives off the cultural inheritance of its predecessors. Among that inheritance for today's American Catholics is a network of parochial schools built by their immigrant forebears, which served both to teach the faith and ground the community. But today, many of those Catholic schools in urban areas are facing a near-fatal financial crisis.

After providing an excellent overview of our findings and recommendations, the author, Mary Rose Rybak, questions our enthusiasm for Catholic schools educating non-Catholics--not to mention converting Catholic schools to charter schools as a means of keeping their doors open.

The reformers at the Fordham Foundation see Catholic schools as one answer to the problem of urban education because they are good schools. But it is worth asking a few questions: To what extent are these schools excellent because they are Catholic, in the sense that they express a commonly held worldview, center a religious community, and participate in a shared faith life? And what effect will it have on their excellence if they cease to be Catholic, in the sense of primarily educating Catholics as Catholics? Will these schools still retain their excellence?

It does appear that Catholic schools continue to provide an excellent education to non-Catholics; consider the school voucher studies that show that inner-city private schools (which means, mostly, Catholic schools) significantly...

It might not be The Wire (apologies to our friends at Quick and the Ed), but yesterday HBO announced plans to air an edu-documentary this summer: Hard Times at Douglas High: A No Child Left Behind Report Card.

Liam Julian

Ben Bernanke and some around our office suggest that teaching more about finance in American public schools may have prevented our current economic crisis. (What crisis?) I'm unconvinced, and Free exchange, the Economist's blog, points out that others are, too.

Liam Julian

Looks like the fine citizens of Waterbury, Connecticut, are not yet flitting through Flypaper. Otherwise, I'm sure district leaders there would have thought thrice before doling out dollars to students who pass AP tests.

Paying students for tests: another day arrives, another place tries it. Forgetting for a moment the ethical considerations that are trampled and the unintended consequences that are ignored in these pay-for-grades schemes--if they really worked, wouldn't we know it by now?

Liam thinks that if paying students to pass AP tests worked, "wouldn't we know it by now?" Yes, we would, and we do, and it does.

Liam Julian

Mike shouldn't??assume that??paying kids for AP scores (as in Waterbury) is??always a??slam-dunk. In fact,??according to Education Week,??the author of the very study Mike??cited??"said the main spur for the score jumps at the schools in Texas' Advanced Placement Incentive Program, or APIP, didn't seem to be cash."

And when we're talking A-F grades,??to??assert??that paying kids??for better??ones will necessarily yield better ones is hasty. Lots of studies on this front??are inconclusive; others return results that contradict their predecessors.

Liam Julian

Don't miss Mike talking about the stressed state of American Catholic schools on today's??edition of NPR's All Things Considered.

It looks like Missouri will be the next state to adopt the big daddy of alternative certification programs, the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence.

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