Flypaper

Liam Julian

Interesting to note that liberals Kevin Drum and Matt Yglesias have both blogged recently about how socioeconomic and racial integration (the 2008 kind of integration, which seeks to overcome housing patterns; not the 1950s kind, which sought to overcome de jure separation of black and white) won't work. (Drum is here; Yglesias is here and here.) Richard Kahlenberg doesn't like this anti-integration trend: "No one should minimize the obstacles to achieving fully integrated schools, but particularly from our liberal friends, we could use a little more ???yes, we can.'"

"Yes, we can" is great, unless we can't. I wrote about integration in this week's Gadfly. Drum and Yglesias are right--these ideas about socially and racially diversifying schools are logistically impossible in most urban areas and logistically arduous in others. Furthermore, they probably can't help students learn more. Parents (black, white, you name it) are pretty united in the conviction that children should either be assigned to close-to-home schools or parents should have more varied public-school choice options. The push for socially engineered ratios of white to black, poor to middle-class in schools manages to detract from parents' wishes and to distract from...

Now that both presidential campaigns are releasing additional details about their education plans, and their surrogates are yacking it up all over town (and all over the country), the shape of the debate is coming into sharper relief. Some of it is familiar stuff: the Republican candidate wants more school vouchers; the Democratic candidate wants more federal spending. Yawn yawn yawn.

But here's one interesting development: the debate appears to be transcending Washington's current focus on schools serving poor children. Think back to 2000, and you'll recall that both Candidate Bush and Candidate Gore targeted their policies on failing inner-city and rural schools. Partly that's because disadvantaged communities are the historical focus of the federal government. And partly it was because George Bush wanted to paint himself as a different kind of Republican--a compassionate conservative who cares about poor and black and Hispanic kids.

Fast forward to today, and the conversation is ever-so-subtly different. During the primaries, Barack Obama's biggest applause lines came when he complained that NCLB was forcing art and music out of the curriculum--worries...

That's what Mona Charen argues in this National Review Online piece,* using No Child Left Behind as Exhibit A. Much to his dismay, they don't seem to love him back.

* Shameless plug alert: She mentions Fordham's recent high-achieving students study, too.

The slugfest between Checker, Diane Ravitch, and Randi Weingarten that ran in yesterday's Gadfly is the subject of an item in today's New York Sun.

Virtual classes may be morphing into entire virtual schools. What is lost and what is gained? How will virtual education change how we define the school experience? The debate rages today in the pages of the Washington Post and Teacher Magazine.

Liam Julian

Dumbed-down and becoming more so?

Liam Julian

Some are pushing for the government to apply Title IX to science education. John Tierney wrote on Tuesday an article about this; he??offers more on his blog.

You'll find sweeping assertions of discrimination in academia against female scientists if you read the executive summary of the National Academy of Sciences' 2006 report, which was issued by a committee led by Donna Shalala. But if you look in the report for evidence of bias, you find studies showing that female graduate students in general (and those without children in particular) are as likely as men to finish their studies, and that they're as likely to have mentors and assistantship support.

Liam Julian

The American Scholar notes, "Our best universities have forgotten that the reason they exist is to make minds, not careers."

Liam Julian

Wow! What a Gadfly!

Diane Ravitch takes issue with Checker's criticisms of the "Broader, Bolder" stuff; Checker responds; AFT President Randi Weingarten writes about why Checker is wrong to believe that schools cannot offer social services and top-flight academics; and Checker, once again, responds. You won't want to miss this!

This front-page Wall Street Journal article reports on the financial woes of the states, which are in the midst of a budget crunch due to the ailing economy and falling tax revenue. No doubt that means budget cuts ahead for public schools, at least in some states and some districts.

If recent history is any guide, though, this pain will be short-lived. When good times are here again, school spending will see a healthy rise, outpacing inflation by a significant measure. But will recent history be a guide?

As I mentioned in last week's Gadfly editorial , over the long-term at least, it seems unlikely that school spending can continue its fast clip forever. Everyone knows that the Baby Boomers are about to retire en masse, putting a huge strain on public resources. Meanwhile, the percentage of households with school-age children is dropping precipitously, down to about one in four today. That means that advocates for increased school spending will have to convince people with no direct stake in the schools to keep opening their wallets, even while they're getting hit with the social security and health care bills of the...

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