Flypaper

Education Week offers a pair of articles about the presidential campaigns' advisors this week. First, Alyson Klein ponders whether said advisors "send signals on the policy directions their candidates would pursue if elected to the White House." (I say yes; Eduwonk Andy says no.)

Then David Hoff takes a look at the role of Teach For American alumni on Senator Obama's campaign, including Michael Johnston, star of a recent reporter roundtable at Fordham.

Both are worth checking out.

I'm not just following the Education Olympics coverage; I'm also addicted to the regular Olympics as well. And during last night's broadcast I heard for the first time that Michael Phelps's mother is a middle school principal. (It appears that I'm the last to know.)

So what do we know about the school? It's Windsor Mill Middle School in Baltimore County, Maryland--the district's newest middle school (so new that GreatSchools.net hasn't found it yet) and one of its STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) academies. And, according to its report card on the Maryland Department of Education website, it didn't make Adequate Yearly Progress under No Child Left Behind. Its African-American, low-income, and special education students all failed to meet targets in reading and math, as did its students overall. (It appears to be a predominantly African-American school.)

If Debbie Phelps can raise the most decorated gold medal athlete in Olympic history, surely she can turn around Windsor Mill Middle School, too....

That's how the message board outside Washington, D.C.'s Garrison Elementary School currently reads. (I just passed it on my way to work.) To which I say to Garrison's leaders: can't you act just a little less surprised? (And congratulations.)

Photo by Flickr user flappingwings.

Liam Julian

So believes Charles Murray. He explains his position in today's Wall Street Journal.

Liam Julian

A New York Times op-ed answers that question.

Gadfly Studios

Over at the water cube in Beijing, Michael Phelps won his fourth and fifth gold medals, for a record eleven total in his career. Nearby, the American women's gymnastics team captured a disappointing silver in an event where gold was within reach.

"Disappointing?" said Toby Jenkins of the U.S. Education Olympics team. "We'd gladly take a silver in any event." Indeed, the American students still have yet to secure a top-three finish in this year's Education Olympics.

Meanwhile, Finland kept up its feverish pace, winning six golds and a silver today. The East Asian tigers have begun to roar, as well. Read all about it at edolympics.net.

...

Or so the post-graduate cram schools in South Korea have been accused. No make-up, no fraternizing with the opposite sex, no iPods, no fun--and classes and studying from 7:30 am to midnight. Sounds a bit extreme, but the ultimate motivation is sound: Korea won't let these students enter college without being prepared. A look at results from the Education Olympics show that Korea is kicking American tuchus. Maybe we should be taking notes.

Liam Julian

From that Ed Next poll, this caught my eye:

Race- and Income-based School Integration

Education Next/PEPG survey results show that 63 percent of the public are opposed to assigning students to schools based on racial background in order to promote school diversity, a practice banned by the Supreme Court in 2007.

  • Only 16 percent say that districts "definitely" or "probably" should be allowed to take students' racial background into account; 21 percent of the public are unsure.
  • Among African Americans, only 30 percent think districts should be allowed to take race into account.
  • Surprisingly, on the question of assigning students to schools based on family income--a strategy now being considered by many districts as an alternative to race-based policies--the opposition is even greater. Only 13 percent support the idea; 62 percent are opposed and the remainder uncertain.

Support for renewing No Child Left Behind with minimal changes is down from a year ago, from 57 percent to 50 percent, according to a brand new poll by Education Next (where I serve as executive editor). Confidence in public schools is also dipping, particularly among minority groups, with just 20 percent of African-Americans giving the schools an A or B--down from 27 percent last year. And both African-Americans and Hispanics express significantly greater faith in local police departments than in local public schools. (This is true for whites too, though to a lesser degree.) So the next time the Phi Delta Kappan reports that Americans love their public schools, keep in mind that they love their police departments even more.

As for whom the public trusts to fix the schools, the Democrats have re-opened their wide lead on the issue. From the press release:

  • Sixty-one percent of respondents rate the Democrats' record on education more favorably, and 62 percent think them more likely to improve the public schools.
  • Teachers prefer the Democrats by even larger margins, as do Hispanics and African Americans.
  • Democrats and Republicans both tend to favor members
  • ...

Pages