Flypaper

Liam Julian

Mike's Gadfly editorial about teacher quality is attracting comments like ... like ....

Oh, whatever,??it's Friday afternoon.

Many inquiring minds write in to ask, what exactly is the Education Olympics? To which we say, tune in next week to find out. But in the meantime, here are some suggested events from Henry Olsen, head of the American Enterprise Institute's National Research Initiative:

The 200m Education Disability Hurdles - teachers compete to overcome the disabling home and social conditions their students bring with them to the classroom to get them to finish line with enough skills to compete in today's economy.

Education Dressage - self-proclaimed school reforming superintendents compete to move the educational horse of their school districts toward reform without seeming to make a single reform-oriented movement.

Greco-Roman Curriculum Wrestling - advocates of traditional education wrestle with a massive educational bureaucracy to overthrow the textbook culture and re-instate classical learning.

Got some event ideas of your own? Let's hear about them!...

Liam Julian

So??commands Stanley Fish in this Policy Review article, which is based on his new book.

Pick up the mission statement of almost any college or university, and you will find claims and ambitions that will lead you to think that it is the job of an institution of higher learning to cure every ill the world has ever known: not only illiteracy and cultural ignorance, which are at least in the ball-park, but poverty, war, racism, gender bias, bad character, discrimination, intolerance, environmental pollution, rampant capitalism, American imperialism, and the hegemony of Wal-Mart; and of course the list could be much longer.

Here's some pessimistic reading for your Friday morning, from California teacher Kate Applebee. Her thesis:

Yes, the responsibility of educating should rest on the shoulders of teachers, but as teachers, we cannot change the choices of students and their families. Unfortunately, neither presidential candidate is capable of the mind control necessary to influence the choices that students and their families make regarding education. True education reform can only begin with an adjustment to the attitudes and beliefs of the individuals directly affecting the state of education: the students and their families; it's an adjustment that remains nearly impossible in a democratic republic.

So true education reform is only possible in undemocratic regimes? Interesting. But she's right that it is unfortunate that neither candidate is capable of mind control.

Liam Julian

The New York Times editors say to Congress: Don't??gut No Child Left Behind.

Gadfly Studios

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3d_4taq75Q

A week from today, America's team of finely-tuned physical specimens will start piling up medals at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

Meanwhile, their counterparts in the Education Olympics will face the world's best in a contest of academic acumen, an arena in which the United States has lost its edge in recent decades. How will they fare in this year's competition? Will America's youngsters prove intellectually impotent on the world stage yet again? Or will they recapture the glory of years past?

Find out at EdOlympics.net. The games begin on August 8th.

While I usually agree with Liam's witty pronouncements on the reasoning of others (and you must agree that Liam doesn't just express his opinion, he passes judgment with a swift blow of verbal acrobatics--Kevin Carey, I'm sure, would agree) I must take issue with his latest post, mostly for blithely linking to an argument on which commentary is sorely needed.

Once you get past the first few paragraphs, I happen to agree with Mr. Fish; professors are not responsible for solving the world's ills and must adhere to standards of professionalism when it comes to sharing their personal (and usually political) beliefs in the classroom. But those first few paragraphs are simply off the mark. Here's the problem: the mission of a university is not the sole purview of the professors.

He accuses Yale (which for full disclosure's sake happens to be my alma mater, but Wesleyan takes a beating too) of trying to develop the "moral, civic and creative capacities [of its students] to the fullest." But he goes astray when he puts this responsibility squarely on the shoulders of professors. In fact, he's right when he says, "You could ace all your...

The parents of San Francisco kindergarteners are fed up with a school choice system that doesn't really let them choose and they're speaking up.

A few weeks ago we commented on L.A.'s less-than-tactful capital expansion plan . It's only getting worse. Today, the Los Angeles Times reports that the school board is going to ask for another $7-billion bond in November. They don't actually know what they're going to use the money for, but the $3.2 billion that was proposed last week just didn't seem quite enough. Never fear, they'll think of ways to use the money, the school board reassures us. Apparently the $20 billion they got from taxpayers over the last few years to build the plethora of new (empty) schools wasn't enough. Let's hope the L.A. taxpayers don't encourage this gluttony and mismanagement by acquiescing to hand over their hard earned dollars.

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