Flypaper

Gadfly Studios

Mike and Christina discuss Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the United States and what he had to say about Catholic schools.

httpv://youtube.com/watch?v=xOJnxYJ1U_0

Fox Business channel must have seen Mike discussing the Catholic schools crisis on the latest episodes of Fordham Factor (here and here), because they invited him on to butt heads with Dr. Karen Ristau, who disagrees with him, respectfully:

Part 1

Part 2

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Colorado lawmakers voted put forward a plan yesterday to align state academic standards with the ACT exam.

This seems wise. Most states have struggled to implement high-quality academic standards in the major subject areas, and in the few states that have raised the bar across the board--California, Massachusetts, Indiana--an exceptional amount of political cooperation was required. Certainly that's not something most states can count on.

So why not adopt a set of clear, ready-made standards that have received the seal of approval from top universities across the land?

UPDATE: It should also be noted that the bill "laid out a multi-year collaborative process for state education officials" to develop K-12 grade-level standards based on the ACT content.

Ah, the vaunted "multi-year collaborative process for state education officials." Just when you think they've figured out a way to cut through the red tape they wrap themselves up again.

Liam Julian

Clayton Wilcox, superintendent of Pinellas County Schools (Florida), the 22nd largest district in the country,?? today??announced his resignation. After years of controversy, the district just released??zoning maps for its??new student assignment plan, which doesn't take race into account when apportioning pupils to schools. The maps are bound to stir things up, and perhaps Wilcox wants to avoid the??forthcoming??scuffles.

(For fourteen months, Wilcox actually operated a blog, which he briefly shut down, ostensibly because too many comments on his posts were insulting.??Flypaper scoffs at such blogging weakness.)

What to make of Pope Benedict XVI's comments about Catholic schools? Here are a few thoughts.

First, note that he described ???contribut[ing] generously to the financial needs of our institutions??? as ???a highly commendable opportunity for the entire Catholic community.??? Translation: Bishops should ask their parishioners to open their wallets and help support Catholic schools (as has happened in Wichita, where widespread tithing has allowed the diocese to make all Catholic schools free for Catholic families).

Second, he said that ???everything possible must be done, in cooperation with the wider community, to ensure that [Catholic schools] are accessible to people of all social and economic strata.??? Translation: it's not just the Church's responsibility to support Catholic education for poor children; the larger public should help, too--perhaps through school vouchers and the like.

Bottom line: if these words reach the ears of Catholics, and other Americans, too, they could do a world of good.

UPDATE: Education Week's take here....

Last week we asked, ???Who Will Save America's Urban Catholic Schools???? Pope Benedict XVI offered his thoughts in today's address to Catholic educators:

The Catholic community here has in fact made education one of its highest priorities. This undertaking has not come without great sacrifice. Towering figures, like Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton and other founders and foundresses, with great tenacity and foresight, laid the foundations of what is today a remarkable network of parochial schools contributing to the spiritual well-being of the Church and the nation. Some, like Saint Katharine Drexel, devoted their lives to educating those whom others had neglected--in her case, African Americans and Native Americans. Countless dedicated Religious Sisters, Brothers, and Priests together with selfless parents have, through Catholic schools, helped generations of immigrants to rise from poverty and take their place in mainstream society.

This sacrifice continues today. It is an outstanding apostolate of hope, seeking to address the material, intellectual and spiritual needs of over three million children and students. It also provides a highly commendable opportunity for the entire Catholic community to contribute generously to the financial needs of our institutions. Their long-term sustainability must be assured. Indeed, everything possible must be done, in cooperation with the wider community, to ensure that they are accessible

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The pontiff is still in the middle of his speech to Catholic educators (which, as predicted, is mostly a soft-spoken smack down of Catholic colleges and universities gone astray). But we're pretty sure he said a few helpful things about the tragedy of inner-city schools closing at an alarming rate. (We say pretty sure because we find his accent difficult to parse.) More later when a transcript is available.

Liam Julian

The quest to raise graduation rates??is on (see here and here).

This should help.

Liam Julian

The New York Times, one understands, seeks to reach its audience, and those who casually turn the pages of Thursday Styles are of a sort that enjoys and relates to articles such as this.

How to prepare teens for the world of work? the piece asks. Should parents encourage children to do what they love, or should they push diligence and sacrifice as the road that leads to a successful and rewarding career? Probably more the latter; the author herself writes that her son is "part of a generation whose members are so convinced that work should be personally fulfilling that they see photocopying as beneath them."

This is a well-documented "millennial" attitude. (Sometimes, though, it's well-founded. Some of the most talented recent college graduates make loads of money because that's what they're worth to the companies that employ them. Why on earth would they deign to make photocopies when they could trot across town and get another job at which they don't make photocopies?)

Conspicuously absent from the Times piece is the role colleges play in youngsters' work preparedness. I'm still amazed at how??ill-equipped for office life I felt after receiving my undergrad degree, and I imagine the adjustment is even more difficult for some grads, especially those who go in for stuff like this. (A particularly noxious "art" project by a Yale student.)

It's easy to dismiss it as culture war fodder. But it makes a point--this selfish, relativistic stuff is...

OK, this time I'm talking about Linda Darling-Hammond. In a letter to the editor of the New Republic, she responds to Josh Patashnik's article on Obama's education plans. (He responds to the response here.) What LDH doesn't address is this brilliant insight from an astute education policy analyst,* included in the original article, about why the Senator's selecting Darling-Hammond as a top education advisor is worrisome:

She has spent almost two decades trying to kill Teach for America. It seems like a strange choice for him.

Instead she and Patashnik get into a boring discussion of the nuances of Obama's pay-for-performance plan. What a missed opportunity.

* Yes, me....

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