Flypaper

The Seattle Times is into the third day of its series on the "resegregation" of the Seattle Public Schools. (See Sunday's, yesterday's, and today's articles.) The first quote in the first article makes the paper's angle clear:

"We like to think of ourselves as these enlightened, liberal folks," says School Board member Harium Martin-Morris. "But the fact is our schools aren't the way that people really think they are."

So what's the way Seattle's schools are? They are, by and large, racially imbalanced, with percentages of minority children that tend to be much higher or much lower than the district average. As goes Seattle, so go most of our schools--because people still tend to live in racially imbalanced communities. (Though Monday's story illustrates that housing patterns don't explain everything.) The Times obviously wants its readers to be outraged about this. Thus the use of the highly charged (and highly inaccurate) word, "resegregation."

But guess what? Many people in Seattle--particularly those running its schools--don't appear outraged. According to the paper, they are "resigned."

Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson hopes Seattle residents see the value of living and going to school with people from a wide mix of backgrounds. But she says she can't change where people live. And as much as she values racial diversity, she values high-quality schools more.

A quality education, she says, "trumps diversity."

School Board Chairwoman Cheryl Chow puts it more bluntly: "It's not my job to desegregate the city,"

...

While Eduwonk Andy and Leo Casey of the United Federation of Teachers spar about teacher collective bargaining agreements and whether or not they "prevent educational innovation," some unionized teachers in Denver weigh in with views of their own. Their verdict: indeed they do.

Nearly two dozen teachers from Denver's Montclair Elementary took a field trip of their own Friday--to their union headquarters to urge a vote on the school's six-week-old request for autonomy.

Montclair is the third Denver Public School, and the first elementary, to seek freedoms from district and union rules in budgeting, hiring and scheduling.

Casey may argue that collective bargaining agreements don't stand in the way of flexibility. Even his fellow teacher union members aren't buying that one.

Liam Julian

From this Palm Beach Post article, about college graduates??who have??a tough time finding jobs:

About 75 percent to 80 percent of UCF students who completed internships found a job in the field they majored in, he said. For students who had no job training outside the classroom, the number is less than 50 percent.

It's not news that internships are important, or that most interns earn paltry sums that usually don't cover even their living expenses and that, therefore, lots of??poor students are excluded from their ranks. But as more less-qualified pupils enter college, as a college degree's value??is degraded, garnering competitive internships will grow evermore important for 20-year-olds??who desire good jobs after they graduate.??Look for anti-internship articles like this??and testimonials from college grads who, unable to do a sophomore-year summer stint in D.C., now find themselves with a B.A. and without a job--all coming to an op-ed page near you.

Liam Julian

From Ed Week: States that set easy targets during No Child Left Behind's early years will now??"have to make annual gains of 10 percentage points or more in the proportion of students scoring as proficient in those subjects...."

In a Gadfly article that's ruffled some feathers, Mike wrote last week that "the health insurance costs associated with treating overweight teachers and other school staff are taking a major bite out of public education budgets. I estimate that these costs come to at least $2.5 billion annually--more than Maine spends on its entire k-12 system in a year."

Liam, for one, wasn't offended. On the contrary, he was driven to action: he stayed up all night penning this Policy Review piece on Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food. It's a must-read for teachers looking to eat better and the school administrators who wish they would. (Those with only a passing interest in education will find much of interest, as well.)

Photo by Flickr user snrang.

My short post today on the decision of a couple-dozen Denver high school teachers to skip school last Friday did not sit well with one commenter and at least one educator. The commenter wrote:

How dare teachers take action about their professional concerns during professional hours! They should do this on Saturdays ... or at night ... like the rest of the professional world.

If I'm interpreting the sarcasm properly here, this person is suggesting that professionals in other industries commonly leave their workplaces while they're on the clock to protest at their company's central offices. To tighten the comparison, let's say we're talking about service industries--places where the workers, like teachers, get paid for serving others and have to be at their workplace at appointed hours to do their job, unlike someone who works in an office and tackles their various tasks at their own leisure.

Now, in what service industry are employees free to skip work--i.e., to leave their customers high and dry--to air their grievances? I find it strange that this commenter (who I would address directly if he or she hadn't left a fake name and email address) thinks teachers suffer some unique type of oppression when they draw criticism for skipping out, en masse, on the people they serve--i.e., students.

Of course, the whole thing is made more ridiculous by the fact that the teachers weren't even petitioning their employers, but their own union.

(I do realize that the Friday...

Mike just quoted this from the Rocky Mountain News:

Nearly two dozen teachers from Denver's Montclair Elementary took a field trip of their own Friday--to their union headquarters to urge a vote on the school's six-week-old request for autonomy.

Montclair is the third Denver Public School, and the first elementary, to seek freedoms from district and union rules in budgeting, hiring and scheduling.

While it's encouraging that Denver high school teachers are demanding more freedom from union rules, one wonders, didn't any of this school's twenty-four protesting teachers have classes to teach on Friday?

Every May and June hordes of school groups descend on Washington, D.C. Each year, like clockwork, we wonks witness gaggles of tweens and teens take over our commutes. They're marked by a tendency to stand on both sides of the Metro escalator, yell and scream in the Metro tunnels, and cram into the center of the Metro car. They can be a local's worst nightmare. But during my past two commutes, riding the train home yesterday and to Fordham this morning, I witnessed a new kind of school group: the KIPP group.

They appear as a small army of pre-teens in matching t-shirts, standing single-file on the right side of the escalator. Several adults walk alongside various points in the line while one leader holds court at one entry/exit turnstile (leaving the other three or four clear for commuters). He hands out a farecard to each child, who then goes through the gate and returns the card to an adult waiting on the other side. The children continue to the next escalator, remaining in single file...

Republicans should be thankful that, according to Rasmussen,* education ranks only sixth out of ten issues for American voters right now, because Congressional Democrats are opening up a big lead on the issue again--fifteen points in May, up from six points in April. On only "health care" and "government ethics" are Republicans faring worse. Perhaps that's because Republicans aren't talking about the issue, while Democrats (particularly their presidential candidates) are talking about it all the time. To close this gap, the GOP needs a positive agenda on the issue--one that transcends the increasingly unpopular No Child Left Behind Act. That's a job for Senator John McCain--and his colleagues in the Republican Congressional caucus.

* Hat tip to "angryteacher" at the Buckeye State Blog.

Liam Julian

With the release of every new education report, it seems, we hear from commentators that the findings are promising but certainly do not constitute a "silver bullet" or a "panacea" for k-12's problems. No longer. This sounds like a bonafide silver bullet to me.

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