Flypaper

While we're on the topic, Checker had this to say of the New York City ed department's new Truth Squad (from the same New York Sun article):

"I'd rather see them use their money to fix NCLB or to give a kid a voucher," Mr. Finn said. "But I really do see this as a kind of natural evolution of a long-standing government activity."

I'd like to see that, too. On the other hand, I'd argue that the ed department's aggressive PR machine serves an important, under-appreciated role.

Readers of the Sunday New York Times find each week a rented column by union head Randi Weingarten, a space in which she typically appeals to the newspaper's wide, influential readership to oppose sensible reforms. The Times and the city's other dailies also run her (usually preposterous) comments any time Mayor Bloomberg or Schools Chancellor Joel Klein propose new ideas, a great many of which have real merit. And while Flypaper unequivocally has just cause when it elects on rare occasions to pillory a proposal out of the Big Apple, it's equally clear that many of the bloggers falling under the Truth Squad's watchful eye are guilty of...

According to New York Sun reporter Elizabeth Green, Flypaper is among two-dozen education blogs being monitored by the city ed department's new "Truth Squad," composed of press secretary David Cantor, five of his deputies, and a deputy communications director, Melody Meyer. Ms. Meyer seems to have drawn the plum assignment; she's on the Flypaper beat.

I've already been set aright once by Mr. Cantor himself. Here's wishing Ms. Meyer a light workload in the future.

A new video game for the Nintendo Wii gives new meaning to "college prep."

Recently chastened, I offer this less controversial fare:

I recently stumbled across a blog called Learn Me Good, written by a teacher who is plagued with the martyrdom syndrome. I won't rehash that issue, which Liam so boldly took on last week, but I will address the whiny tenor of this article, written by said blogger. I agree with his premise--we do treat teachers like unskilled laborers; that's exactly why we Fordhamites hate on unions and support merit pay--but still I wondered, why the exceptionally whiny tone? I thought maybe I was being unfair to Mr. Learn Me Good, until I saw my observation corroborated in the comments section by someone named Roger:

I've never run across a group of professionals who whine as much as teachers. The only explanation I can think of is that since they spend so much time in the company of children, they take on this quality.

Roger, you're a riot! Of course, the other readers of this article didn't find him so funny as they proceeded to clobber him for never having taught before. That may be true, but you don't need to spend time in the...

We love charters. They're a great idea. But even great ideas can go wrong, and when I read this great idea gone wrong, I thought it was a joke. But oh no, according to the Los Angeles Times , the LA School Board has really jumped off the deep end.

At Tuesday's school board meeting, district officials outlined plans to open an alternative school this fall that would offer independent study to at-risk students...,

According to the plan, students would attend school for only two hours a week and be on their own to complete their course work the rest of the time. It was presented at the meeting largely as a way for the district to recoup money that is lost when students have poor attendance records, because schools receive state funding based on attendance.

This is probably every kid's dream--school-less school. Since we clearly created compulsory education laws for fun (didn't you know? Kids absolutely LOVE to go to school. In fact, we have to make them go home in the afternoon! It's the hormones--makes them great decision makers), why don't we just abolish school altogether and have kids learning on their own?...

Eduwonkette introduced her readers to some new blogs yesterday, including one chronicling the day-to-day life of "Mimi" the teacher. I know we've had some contentious back-and-forths about teachers on this site, but I think everyone can find some humor in this story from Mimi's site. End-of-the-year "thanks, teach!" presents don't get much better than this.

Great article in today's Wall Street Journal about the Catholic church vs. Catholic school unions. It's especially intriguing because the Church-union relationship is slightly more complex than the typical pro- or anti-union situation. Catholics have, for generations, spoken in favor of and marched alongside unions in the United States and abroad. We know Catholic schools are in crisis, but how will the Church address its history of supporting other unions when the fight has now come to its own backyard?

Liam Julian

Education Week looks at how much money??each presidential candidate would??devote to schools.

Word around Washington is that Congress is unlikely to finish its appropriations bills before the election and may choose to pass a yearlong "continuing resolution" for all of fiscal year 2009. That might sound arcane, but here's the silver lining: such a move would save Reading First from its imminent demise. That's because the program is receiving about $400 million this fiscal year and, with a continuing resolution, would receive the same next. That's $400 million more than it would receive otherwise, as both chambers of Congress zeroed out the program in their appropriations bills.

Liam Julian

Mica Pollock, an "anthropologist of education," which I assume means that she excavates fossilized Australopithecus pencil boxes in the Olduvai Gorge, graciously comments about my last post (in which I quoted from an interview with her about her new book):

I too believe in clarity. I'll use shorter sentences for you. These come straight from my book, Everyday Antiracism: Getting Real about Race in School.

Antiracism in education involves:

1. Rejecting false notions of human difference

2. Acknowledging lived experiences shaped along racial lines

3. Learning from diverse forms of knowledge and experience

4. Challenging systems of racial inequality.

Brevity doesn't equal clarity, and I remain befuddled. For instance, if #1 and #3 refer to race--that is, if race is a false notion of difference and also the diversity to which #3 refers--which I think they do, then??is it not the case that??#1 contradicts #3? Come to think of it, what does #3 actually mean? I recently wrote a piece about how one school district attempts to teach "diverse forms of knowledge and experience," and it didn't sound like that district was doing a very good thing at all. And how are teachers supposed to go about??attending...

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