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Last night: "Science should be taught in science class."--Sarah Palin

August 2005: "Science class is for science"--The Education Gadfly

Now that the financial markets have steadied themselves a bit, and Congressional leaders have started putting Humpty-Dumpty together again, it's easier to look at the demise of the bailout bill on Monday with cool detachment. And what's clear is that three factions were responsible for the bill's defeat: liberals, conservatives, and members from swing districts, particularly freshmen. What's interesting to me is that these were the same factions that rebelled against Chairman George Miller's No Child Left Behind reauthorization bill last year--and that would likely kill a similar bill today if it were brought to the floor.

Seven years ago, when the original NCLB made its way through Congress, it benefited from strong presidential leadership (in the wake of 9/11), plus liberal and conservative bases mostly willing to go along with their party bosses. Obviously those dynamics have changed.

As I write, leaders in Congress are working to tweak the bailout plan to get a few more votes on either side of the aisle so the bill can make it out of the House. Likewise, what would it take for an NCLB reauthorization bill to succeed? It seems to me that there are two choices for Democratic leaders,...

Cram schools seem to be popping up everywhere. Korea has them as does Flushing, Queens. The newest market? India. But where Korean schools are a post graduate addendum to improve university entrance exam scores, Indian cram schools are a high school addition. The goal is admission to one of the highly selective Indian Institutes of Technology and the cram schools only teach what will be on the test: math, physics and chemistry.??Traditional Indian public schools are complaining that the best and brightest are leaving their ranks for these schools (uh, hello? maybe these students are leaving for a reason?). On top of it all, these students still have to graduate from high school--while attending cram school at the same time, it seems.??

Local schools [in Kota, the cram capital] also have benefited: Cram students have to attend regular classes so they can pass their high-school exams and graduate. Some high schools have early morning classes so cram students can finish early and move on to cramming.??

Kota is in the throes of natural urban renewal as a result of the cram schools' popularity. The hoards of students need places to live, supplies and meals to keep...

Today on Forbes.com , Checker explains why he finds reforms in LA, NY and Denver promising instances of thinking outside the box. It's all about the numbers--of the test score and dollar variety. When the old ways aren't working, shouldn't we try something new? Absolutely.

It still makes me gag to see people I think well of--Roy Romer, J.C. Watts, Joel Klein--sharing a letterhead with the lamentable and reprehensible Al Sharpton. Much as I agree with the core principles of the Education Equality Project and pleased as I would be if they and the Strong American Schools (aka ED in 08) crowd successfully persuade the moderators to inject education into the two remaining presidential debates,??Sharpton's name on that press release carries a most unpleasant whiff of racialism, anti-Semitism, exploitation and corruption that taints the entire venture. (See here and??here.) Aside from all that, the paltry place that education occupies this election season is symbolized by the letter's pleading tone.??(Please, sir, could I have some more?)??Sure it would great to hear the candidates say more on the topic--after they've dealt with the Wall Street meltdown, terrorism, Iraq, Afghanistan, health care and climate change....

No, I refer not to the failed bailout, but to the extension bill or "continuing resolution" needed now that Congress has failed to pass a 2009 budget prior to the end of the 2008 fiscal year (today). This summer, Mike offered "three cheers for broken government," noting that a continuing resolution would at least let Reading First survive another year, defying its recent death. Unfortunately, Ed Week's Alyson Klein reports that it might not be that simple:

But the stopgap bill doesn't mean federal funding of the program will be continued. The money would not be allocated to school districts until July 1. If Congress decides to eliminate the program when it returns to the education spending bills in March, schools won't receive any new Reading First money.

The extension "is essentially a moot point," said Richard Long, the director of government relations for the Newark, Del.-based International Reading Association.

So Reading First may really be dead after all, unless our new president dares heed Mike's plea to fund programs that actually work....

Amy Fagan

Oklahoma is trying an education venture some say will help kids stay in school and do better: removing one or perhaps two critical grades and creating separate schools for them. Ninth-graders in Coweta this year are the first to occupy a campus that's just for freshmen and Cache Public Schools plans something similar. Sand Springs Public Schools in Tulsa County placed prekindergarten, sixth-grade and ninth-grade students all in their own buildings, with the aim of focusing on the years that are the "biggest hurdles in the schooling process," said Superintendent Lloyd Snow. ??Supporters say such setups can help ease difficult transition periods, cut down on discipline problems and prevent kids from falling through the cracks or dropping out. Seems like it could be a worthy endeavor, though supporters didn't offer any hard evidence (at least in the article) of their claims. Coweta Superintendent Jeff Holmes said he expects to see results this year. You can check it out for yourself here.

Mike may catch the attention of governors and superintendents, but school boards are deaf. John Deasy, Superintedent of Prince George's County, is set to resign. We hope his replacement is as reform-minded and result-oriented.

Update: I am not implying that the school board forced Deasy out (they did not) only to joke that Mike, who has caught the eye of district officials in the past (see above examples), was shockingly not consulted!

Update 2: Seems I'm not the only one who thought Deasy's departure looked a little fishy.

This blog has seen various commentary on why Michelle Rhee's plan, "Capital Gains," to pay students for good behavior and good grades was a bad idea (try here to see the ongoing conversation). Liam, in particular, was vehemently opposed to it in its New York City and Washington DC manifestations. Well it didn't work (or had "mixed results," ahem-hem) in NY and it doesn't appear to have worked in DC, either. When will Fryer, the plan's mastermind, give it a rest?

Today's Washington Post reports that behavior has improved but grades have not. The program has now completed a two week test run (where it appears no money was rewarded, only the points system was implmented to demonstrate how the system would work) and started officially (in all its glitzy, perverse incentivizing glory) yesterday. I enjoyed, in particular, this tidbit:

Betts and his staff did a two-week trial run this month to give teachers practice with the scoring system and to give students an idea of what would be expected to earn points. He said that the sixth- and seventh-graders were "right into it" and that attendance and punctuality ticked up. Grades did not.

...

Looks like Catholic schools are taking on a new role in urban France.

(We've written on the importance of Catholic schools in the US, too.)

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