Mike links to this fascinating article by Matt Bai in yesterday's NYT and asks us to consider whether the ???end of black politics??? is good for education reform.?? Obviously, one must first agree with Bai's primary assumption that ???old black politics???--the civil rights kind--is essentially on its way out. He says Obama and other new-generation black leaders aren't comfortable categorizing their politics by race. Cory Booker for instance, mayor of Newark, seems to breathe a sigh of relief at the exodus of the old guard. He says the Obama campaign ???is giving African-Americans like myself the courage to?? be themselves.???

Bai contends that the inequities in today's society aren't as blatant as the legal barriers that once existed in the civil rights movement--they are subtler now. He mentions inferior schools as an example of this subtler inequality. If Bai is right about the curtain call for black politics, I think it's good for education reform. It's absolutely true that urban schools have less able teachers and notoriously low expectations for students. But to insinuate that this phenomenon originates from the same hate-filled intentions of the 50's and 60's (the water hose footage will...

That's how American teens are feeling, according to the latest State of our Nation's Youth survey by the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans. Consider this, from coverage in Education Daily:

Nearly 80 percent of teens said increased pressure to earn good grades "creates a problem" for them, and one in five students spends at least 10 hours a week on homework.

And some of these kids are doing drugs as a result, or so it seems.

I strongly, strongly doubt it, but that seems to be the implication of this study by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. From the press release:

According to the 2007 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study of 6,511 teens (PATS Teens), the number one reason teens see for using drugs is to deal with the pressures and stress of school. In this nationally projectable study (margin of error +/- 1.6 percent), 73 percent of teens reported that school stress is the primary reason for drug use, indicating that teens' perceptions of motivating factors for using drugs are dramatically different than past research has indicated...

In previous PATS Teens studies, when teen respondents were asked to select from a number of reasons for using drugs, the number one reason (65 percent) selected was to "feel cool." The 2007 study was the first to offer the option of selecting school stress as a motivator, one which nearly 3 out of 4 teens (73 percent) strongly agreed with. This was followed closely by "feeling cool" (65 percent) and "feeling better about themselves" (65 percent).



A clink of the five rings goes out to "Doug" and "Nancy," who both had some fun with our Education Olympics Games on Eduwonkette yesterday:

First Doug:

E, I think Wise and Fordham are referring to the Average Olympics, a concurrent event taking place in Dalian, China (an average Chinese city of only 5.4 million) where the mediocre athletes of the world go head to head in a battle of the middling. Why would they use an event that pits the top 1/2% of athletes to make a point about mean differences?

Some of my favorite events at the Average Olympics:

the median jump

the roughly parallel bars

almost synchronized swimming

the halfathalon

Then Nancy:

Don't forget:

The 500 meter Run of the Mill

Pretty BadMinton

Archery, where everyone wants to be in the middle.

That's pretty good! But skoolboy comes to our rescue today, analyzing PISA results for each country's top students and concluding that "the fact that the top 5% of U.S. students are getting their butts kicked in math and science is alarming to those who tie U.S. global competitiveness to the...

Gadfly Studios

The world's greatest athletes kicked off the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in grand style today at the National Stadium in Beijing. Meanwhile, across town, another breed of competitor was celebrating the start of this year's Education Olympics:

There's much more at

Are we really this far gone? The Wall Street Journal announced this morning, "Problem: Boys Don't Like to Read. Solution: Books That Are Really Gross." I salute the WSJ for this particular syntactic masterpiece of a headline, but let's not jump on the bandwagon because we want to use the word "gross" on Page One.

I can understand why boys may not dig Charlotte's Web or Little House on the Prairie, but there are plenty of other children's or young adult books geared towards the rougher sex. What about The Jungle Book or some of Grimm's scarier fairy tales? Plenty of children's books are not about bunnies and rainbows--but are still age-appropriate for 5-, 6-, 7-year-olds. Yes, you might be keeping your son from blowing things up on his PlayStation, but isn't reading a book about blowing things up just as bad? I would argue that the nuance of the English language and the rampant imagination of a typical child would make reading about something gory and inappropriate worse than seeing it on television.

The moral of the story is simply that we need to get all kids to keep reading, not by writing books...

Liam Julian

This week's Gadfly is out, and it features a fine article about how Ohio's education woes are being reinforced and why it matters for the rest of the country. Rick is back on the podcast this week, and so is Intern Amy, who today ends her Fordham affiliation and notes that the best part of working for us was getting to leave the office.

"Broward cracking down on school shoppers "

Broward County parents: Don't put shopping for a school on your back-to-school list. For the first time ever in the district, it could lead to an arrest.

Broward School Board members on Tuesday voted 6-3 to give district schools the right to report to authorities parents caught lying about their home addresses to get their kids into schools outside the area where they live. Elevating such a fib into a third-degree felony starting this coming school year sparked a long discussion at Tuesday's meeting, where the item was up for final approval.

''There shouldn't be school shopping,'' said board Chairwoman Robin Bartleman said.

Just when you thought public school choice was universally accepted...

A question to ponder if new research on Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITS) pans out. Robotic teachers, you ask? CNN has more.

The Magnolia State, long the basement-dweller among states for its laughable standards for "proficiency" on its NCLB tests, is raising the bar, reports Education Week. This is consistent with a pattern we noticed in last year's Proficiency Illusion report, where states with some of the lowest standards (such as Texas) bring them up a notch, while states with high standards (such as South Carolina) let them slide a bit. Thus, we found a "walk to the middle," as opposed to the "race to the bottom" that we expected. So to Mississippi we say: welcome, walkers!

Photo by Flickr user christianabe....