Liam Julian

Books like this are fine, but it's incorrect (title of book in question notwithstanding) to see them as diagnosing a "national problem." The temptation exists, of course, to find in their stories reflections of a country in which high school students don't eat lunch (no time!), in which parents will not remove themselves from their children's sides, in which kids are coddled and pampered and showered with gold stars for the straight-A's they receive. But what really ail U.S. youth are not the products of too much parental involvement, but the products of not enough parental involvement--more specifically, not enough solid guidance from adults (teachers, coaches, mentors, etc.).

The reviewer??makes another smart point:

...even as parents obsessively strap bike helmets on their kids' heads and squirt antiseptic gels on their hands, the adults themselves cavalierly break up families with divorce and tolerate the rampant sexualization of prepubescent girls. In short, we're focusing on the wrong risks.

True. What most worries me, though: Did they really wrap up that kid in yellow caution tape?

Liam Julian

Reports the BBC: "A university has asked students to refrain from throwing their mortar board hats in the air to celebrate graduation in case someone gets hurt."

Smart. Hat-related injuries can and do occur.

Wondering why all that extra federal money for "teacher quality" just seems to get absorbed by the system? Maybe this is why.

Liam Julian

That's right, it does. This week's issue is out. Don't miss Mike's feature article, which argues that we need fewer chunky teachers in our public schools. Also, Eric takes to task D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, who??recently??proposed some??lousy ideas about education funding.

Not happy that the McCain campaign is using an Ed Week article he wrote last year to demonstrate Obama's thin record on education in the U.S. Senate, David Hoff pens this disclaimer on Campaign K-12:

In response to Sen. Barack Obama's education speech yesterday, the McCain campaign is circulating the following sentence I wrote in 2007:

In his eight years in the state Senate and two years in the U.S. Senate, Mr. Obama hasn't made a significant mark on education policy.

I'd like to remind the campaign that earlier this year I quoted an Arizona superintendent saying this about McCain:

I don't think he has a strong track record of putting education at the top of his priorities.

Read the Obama story and the McCain story and you can decide who has a better track record on K-12 issues.


One of Senator John McCain's most attractive virtues is his willingness to stand on principle even in the face of adversity. He promoted comprehensive immigration reform even though his own party's base hated it. He continues to support the Iraq War even though the public wants the troops out. Now, with his strong, almost-no-caveats embrace of No Child Left Behind, he's got a twofer: he's found a policy position opposed by his party's base and the general public.

Such a position gives Senator Barack Obama all kinds of room to run. He can support the tenets of NCLB while criticizing its specifics, placate his teacher union base while offering reforms that paint him as a different kind of Democrat. And yesterday, in a major policy speech at the Mapleton Expeditionary School for the Arts (MESA), that's exactly what he did. (Full text here, Washington Post Online coverage here; AP coverage here.) Here's the beef:

I believe it's time to lead a new era of mutual responsibility in education, one where we all come together for the sake of our children's success. An era where each of us does our part to make that success a reality: parents and teachers, leaders in Washington and citizens all across America.

This starts with fixing the broken promises of No Child Left Behind. Now, I believe that the goals of this law were the right ones. Making a promise to educate every child with an excellent teacher is

Liam Julian

The Economist recently??ran an article about Mexico's attempts to fix its education system. But??the country??must first deal with this.

From Newsweek, this article provides a well-argued and sorely-needed counterpoint to Mark Bauerlein's recent youth-bashing book, The Dumbest Generation. Some choice bits:

IQ scores in every country that measures them, including the United States, have been rising since the 1930s. Since the tests measure not knowledge but pure thinking capacity-what cognitive scientists call fluid intelligence, in that it can be applied to problems in any domain-then Gen Y's ignorance of facts (or of facts that older people think are important) reflects not dumbness but choice. And who's to say they are dumb because fewer of them than of their grandparents' generation care who wrote the oratorio "Messiah" (which 35 percent of college seniors knew in 2002, compared with 56 percent in 1955)?

... we suspect that the decline in the percentage of college freshmen who say it's important to keep up with political affairs, from 60 percent in 1966 to 36 percent in 2005, reflects at least in part the fact that in 1966 politics determined whether you were going to get drafted and shipped to Vietnam. The apathy of 2005 is more a reflection of the world outside Gen-Yers' heads than inside, and one that we bet has changed tack with the historic candidacy of Barack Obama. Alienation is not dumbness....

Bauerlein is not the first scholar to pin the blame for a younger generation's intellectual shortcomings on new technology (television, anyone?), in this case indicting "the digital age." But there is no empirical evidence


Folks like Mark Bauerlein, and probably Checker, won't like this.

As part of its effort to trim $200 million from its budget, the New York City Department of Ed will take down a notch its plan to expand screening programs for gifted and talented pupils.

(Look for more on high-achieving students in an upcoming Fordham report.)