Flypaper

Liam Julian

Over at NRO, two writers, Carrie Lukas and Kathleen Parker, are displeased about the recent American Association of University Women report that finds education's so-called "boys crisis" to be fiction. Lukas claims that the AAUW simply seeks a monopoly on gender grievance, and Parker claims that boys are, actually, not fine, and that those males who lag academically excel at activities such as abusing drugs and alcohol.

Parker's piece has its rougher patches, but it ends well: Educators should understand that differences between boys and girls exist, and they should develop strategies thereby. (Some principals, in fact, believe single-sex education is the answer.) What's most important is that school leaders have the autonomy to make the educational decisions that work best for their pupils, and that they can do so without worrying about the PC police.

Groups such as the AAUW or The Boys Project, which advocate exclusively on behalf of one gender, are susceptible to doing more harm than good by overstating the problems that their preferred gender faces.??And isn't it rather silly to look at test data and then construct overarching conclusions about all American male or female students?

Liam Julian

Calexico (a U.S. border town) is kicking out of its schools Mexican students, who bring down test scores.

So, after posting this, Mike drops me an email asking if I've got his back... I, of course, ask if he is insinuating that my blond highlights are not completely au naturelle.?? Alas, he merely fears??a backlash from the female constituency (not unusual in a campaign year). While I agree with him that hair color rights are a must in the workplace (not that I need them, mind you), I'm not sure I would take it much farther. I happen to like, for example, things like dress codes. And I'm reminded of the dress code section of the Fordham personnel manual (yes, I actually read it after being hired recently). It states, "Business casual attire is required. Managers reserve the right to require business attire for special situations (board meetings, important visitors, for example)." Hmmm... I'm not so sure that the Bowling Green administrators and workplace administrators are all that different, and that's a good thing. I, for one, (a former high school teacher who chaperoned many a school dance) have had my fill of prom-dress bikinis.?? Back to work....

Update: This post was originally and erroneously attributed to Liam Julian, who does not have blond highlights.

Liam Julian

We must excavate the salient parts. If the title of this AP story is true, then the chaperone in question possesses a supreme mastery of duct-tape techniques??and probably should write a book. It's not true, though. I know. It's impossible to seal a door with duct tape. In college, I tried it several times, and even the most weak-muscled victims were able to break the barrier.??(I think it's obvious that the chaperone in question was simply implementing the old tape-on-the-outside-of-the-door-so-if-you-leave-I'll-know-and-so-will-your-parents-and-Susie's-parents trick.) AP: Get your facts straight. This stuff matters.

Mark Bauerlein, the Emory professor, Phi Beta Cons contributor, and author of The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future, takes aim at Wikipedia in this new Education Next column. He writes:

The site is criticized for its superficiality, erroneousness, and amateurism, but, in fact, Wikipedia provides ready access to a fact, definition, or overview. No, the real problem with Wikipedia is a stylistic one. Read a dozen entries on the similar topics and they all sound the same. The outline is formulaic, the prose numbingly bland. Sentences unfold in tinny sequence. Perspectives arise in overcareful interplay. If a metaphor pops up, it's a dead one. Consider the entry on Moby-Dick:

Ahab seeks one specific whale, Moby-Dick, a great white whale of tremendous size and ferocity. Comparatively few whaling ships know of Moby-Dick, and fewer yet have knowingly encountered the whale. In a previous encounter, the whale destroyed Ahab's boat and bit off Ahab's leg. Ahab intends to exact revenge on the whale.

Compare that to a sentence from Collier's Encyclopedia, first published in 1950: "As he makes very clear to Starbuck, his first mate, Captain Ahab envisions in Moby-Dick the visible form of a malicious Fate which governs man thoughtlessly..." Or the description of Ahab in the 1953 Encyclopedia Americana: "a crazed captain whose one thought is the capture of a ferocious monster that had maimed him..." Or even this in CliffsNotes from 1966: "Ahab's monomania is

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Liam Julian

This article out of New Orleans is about several selective charter schools that admit only those students that pass entrance tests or navigate complicated admissions processes. This is a big no-no with charter supporters. According to the piece:

Todd Ziebarth, the senior policy analyst at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, said he worries that having even some charter schools with competitive admissions in New Orleans sends the message to the community that charter schools are elitist.

But what are the convincing educational arguments against allowing charter schools to establish admissions policies? It's one thing to worry about politics and perception, but it's another thing to worry about what educational structures work best for kids. Why not have a tiered system of charter schools that caters to students at different levels of academic ability? Lots of kids, for example, don't need the paternalism of KIPP or SEED; lots of others do.

Liam makes a good point.

Did I mention that Mitt Romney is smart and savvy on education reform?

Liam Julian

We've written before about Governor Bobby Jindal. There's lots to like. And then there's this (from the New York Times): Jindal campaigned in Louisiana as a social conservative, which meant "favoring teaching 'intelligent design' in schools as an alternative to evolution."

The New York Times reports today that Senator John McCain is set to meet with three contenders for the VP slot on his ticket: former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney; Florida Governor Charlie Crist, and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.

It stands to reason that the vice president in a potential McCain administration would be handed a major role on education policy; after all, McCain himself hasn't shown much interest in the issue in his career or campaign, though that's starting to change a bit. (His education secretary would also have a lot of leeway, or so I argued here.)

So how do these three stack up on the edu-front? Mitt Romney hails from the state with the highest test scores in the country; though he didn't spark the "Massachusetts Miracle," he didn't mess it up, either. And unlike McCain, he did talk a lot about education on the campaign trail, generally in a smart, data-savvy sort of way. It's easy to imagine a Vice President Romney kick-starting Vice President Al Gore's old "reinventing government" work--and applying it thoughtfully to education.

Charlie Crist is another story. He inherited perhaps the fastest-improving state education system in the country; Florida's recent progress for poor and Hispanic children is monumental. But rather than defend the hard-fought gains of his predecessor, Jeb Bush, he seems intent on retreating. He cleared most of Bush's top education advisors out of Tallahassee and has shown an...

Liam Julian

From The Economist: Mexico is making moves to fix its broken educational system (a system that affects the U.S.??in obvious ways). One wonders, though, whether Mexico's union boss (see here and here) is really willing to give up any power over teacher-staffing decisions.

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