Flypaper

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...

Liam Julian

Eduwonkette provides a fine example of the??educational gobbledygook that we must??hack away in order to find some clarity. Here's a snippet:

This is why the "antiracist" educator must negotiate between two antiracist impulses in deciding her everyday behaviors toward students. She must choose between the antiracist impulse to treat all people as human beings rather than racial group members, and the antiracist impulse to recognize people's real experiences as racial group members in order to counteract racial inequality.

How true. In fact, as an "antinonsense" writer, I encounter a similar struggle everyday when I choose between the antinonsense impulse to point out and lambast such balderdash and the antinonsense impulse to let it alone and hope that it will die of its own accord.

Liam Julian

Didn't we come out in favor of burning crosses into students' flesh??in our recent report, Who Will Save America's Urban Catholic Schools???Or am??I confusing??cross-branding with another of our??recommendations,??like turning??excess school facilities over to charter networks with a proven track record?

Update: Yup, I was indeed confusing forcible cross-branding with giving excess facilities to good charter-school networks. We're in favor of the latter, not the former.

That's my take on the new Marcus Winters/Jay Greene/Julie Trivitt study on the impact of high-stakes testing on low-stakes subjects in Florida. According to its executive summary, the study examined whether labeling schools with an "F" motivated them to increase learning in science, even though it didn't "count" in the Sunshine State's accountability system:

-- The F-grade sanction produced after one year a gain in student science proficiency of about a 0.08 standard deviation. These gains are similar to those in reading and appear smaller than the gains in math that were due to the F sanction.

--There is some evidence to suggest that student science proficiency increased primarily because student learning in math and reading enabled that increase. That is, learning in math and reading appear to contribute to learning in science.

    That sounds reasonable enough to me, though Eduwonkette wants to see all the technical details to know whether the methodology stands up. (I'm not smart enough to figure that out; that's why we have Amber!)

    My beef is with the study's pre-release spin. The Greene Machine directly juxtaposes its paper with statements by our...

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