Liam Julian

For the same reason I'm opposed to sex-ed class in schools, I'm opposed to clubs like this. A parent sends his students to a public school to receive a rigorous education in the core curriculum. Parents should not be forced to send their children to public schools that allow controversial subjects--unrelated to science, math, geography, etc.--to be a part of the school environment. Such subjects distract from what needs to be occurring in classrooms and often isn't: learning.


Will Okun, who teaches school in Chicago, blogs at the New York Times:

I do not understand why society and parents rely on our much criticized, overcrowded and under-funded schools to teach children about such important issues as abstinence and safe sex?


Ed in '08 mastermind Roy Romer--whose lively career has also included stints as the L.A. superintendent, Colorado governor, and Democratic National Committee chairman--let it slip today that he thinks the Democratic candidate who amasses the most pledged delegates should get the nomination. USA Today's "on politics" blog reports that this standard

is likely to favor Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. [Romer] didn't pick up on a reporter's suggestion that the overall popular vote should matter, too. That's probably a disappointment to New York Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign. Romer was a national co-chairman of her husband's presidential re-election campaign in 1996 and became general chairman of the DNC in January 1997, while Bill Clinton was president and the nation's leading Democrat....Romer also praised Obama's speech Tuesday on race relations in America. "When you get a hot one coming in, you don't duck it, you look at it right in the eye," Romer said. "I thought he demonstrated that."

Ed in '08 has thus far bent over backwards to protect its nonprofit status, being careful to avoid praising or criticizing specific candidates. Careful, Roy...

Liam Julian

Teachers in Nashua, New Hampshire, have threatened to strike unless they reach a contract settlement by March 31.


Or so this blogger says. Heatedly picking apart several recent National Review Online pieces on Obama's controversial latest speech, he offers up this gem on Liam's piece:

"If Obama wants to move past the divisive racial politics of the past, why does he rehash these divisive racial politics of the past?" - Liam Julian.

Because, f***nuts, pretending everything is fine when it isn't? That's Republican strategy. It ain't f***ng working in Iraq, it's not f***ing working in the financial markets, it's not f***ing working about climate change, and it won't f***ing work on race either. It only works for individual Republicans who get out before the bombs go off, their portfolio collapses, their coast gets flooded, or the riots start.


The New York Times reports today that Idaho will set aside somewhere from $200,000 to $600,000 to fund a pilot program that will make chess education available to all second- and third-graders. The state will use a curriculum called First Move, which was developed by the Seattle-based nonprofit Foundation for Chess.

Third-grade teacher Deborah McCoy has already started teaching chess in her classroom and is quite pleased with the results. "So many kids spend their time plugged into video games, iPods, television and so they are more isolated," she said. "They learn give and take in chess. There are courtesies that you follow. It has been really beneficial for them."

You'd have to guess she's mostly right about the benefits, though one wonders if it's the state's place to be experimenting like this with curricula. Once you start offering funding for niche subjects you risk opening the floodgates to every other hobbyist-lobbyist in the state.


In a "Friday Guest Column" at Edbizbuzz, the AFT's Nancy Van Meter goes on the attack against supplemental services providers. Actually, she stays on the attack, as her day job for at least five years has been to criticize and question the one tiny part of No Child Left Behind that gives parents choices.

Still, she's right that just because "established interests" don't like the program doesn't mean there aren't problems, as one tutoring company executive recently argued. Most SES companies are struggling to demonstrate effects on student achievement. The industry's explanation--that the programs are too short to have an impact on state test scores--is unlikely to persuade people that we should be spending several billion dollars a year on this initiative.

Nancy is right that there should be "accountability" for results--but she's wrong that government officials should pile on regulations such as those requiring particular credentials for tutors, as her organization has been advocating. Let's take a page from charter schools--another reform that Nancy gets paid to hate--and expect achievement in return for autonomy. If providers aren't willing to sign on to that deal, they should get out of this business. And if established interests don't like that deal, well, let's just call them what they are: lobbyists for the status quo....

Ed Week reports on an interesting new study showing the impact of teacher absences on students: "taking into account the effects on student achievement that might be produced by various characteristics of the teachers, students, and schools--including teachers' levels of skill and effort--the researchers found a small but significant negative impact on student math scores attributable to teacher absences alone," such that 10 days off were akin to "the difference for a student of having a first-year teacher as opposed to a second-year teacher." In their sample, teachers averaged 5.3 sick or personal days each per year.

None of this is terribly shocking, but did the unions miss a PR opportunity here? Instead of saying "see, an inexperienced substitute is no substitute for a true professional; teachers really matter," Rob Weil of the AFT urges us to "be careful about overemphasizing these results," in case the authors "are implying something that may not be true: that teachers are taking more days off than they are allowed." And why on earth would anyone get that impression? Perhaps because "teacher sick days occurred on a day adjacent to a weekend or a holiday 52.3 percent of the time, compared with 45.7 percent of the time on the other days, which usually fell midweek," and "conversations with school principals revealed that many teachers viewed such absences as an entitlement that they could use to fit their preferences."

There was no mention of whether teachers' golf handicaps improved after their...


New Yorkers got a dose of d??j?? vu yesterday when New York's new governor, David A. Paterson, and his wife Michelle held a press conference to discuss their marital infidelities.

In more disturbing news, this New York Times story reveals that Governor Paterson's father, Basil A. Paterson, is an adviser to Randi Weingarten, president of the United Federation of Teachers.

Jeff Kuhner

Iran's students are being taught the virtues of Islamic world supremacy and jihadism. This is the conclusion of a major new study on Iranian textbooks by Freedom House (read the full story here). The study, entitled "Discrimination and Intolerance in Iran's Textbooks," is a somber reminder that Iran's theocratic regime is teaching its children to embrace anti-Americanism and prepare for a holy war against the West.

Saeed Paivandi, a sociologist at Paris-8 University and one of the West's few experts on Iran's post-revolutionary education system, looked at 95 compulsory textbooks taught in grades one to eleven. His conclusion: Iranian students are repeatedly told that humans don't all enjoy the same rights; rather, we are classified into a distinct hierarchy--with Muslim men at the top, and women and non-Muslims occupying the lower rungs of the social ladder.

The textbooks assert that "some individuals are born first-class citizens, due to their identity, gender, and way of thinking, while others become second- and third-class citizens. Those who are excluded from the inside are victims of this discriminatory system."

In fact, following the 1979 Islamic revolution that brought Ayatollah Khomeini and his mullah thugs to power, Iran has systematically imposed a series of discriminatory laws that deny non-Muslims access to senior government posts, sanction the murder of homosexuals, enforce a strict quota system for Christians and Jews in universities, and insist that all Jewish- or Christian-owned businesses be publicly designated as non-Muslim.

Iran is one of the world's...