Don't miss this important new study by the National Council on Teacher Quality regarding the preparation of competent elementary-school math teachers. Titled No Common Denominator, it finds, after reviewing a national sample of ed-school-based undergraduate teacher prep programs, that fewer than 15 percent of them require enough of the right kinds of courses. It names names, too! It also makes a boatload of recommendations, nearly all of them contrary to current practice and some of them??also contrary to??conventional teacher-quality-reform wisdom. All this was unveiled earlier today (at a well-attended event on the roof??of the Hotel Hay-Adams, looking down??upon the White House itself). If you'd been there you'd have enjoyed a fine presentation by top NCTQ policy analyst Julie Greenberg. Second best is to read what she wrote--there are PDFs for the press release, executive summary, and full report (and a version with full appendices)....

From: U.S. Department of Education []

Sent: Thursday, June 26, 2008 5:06 PM

To: U.S. Department of Education

Subject: FYI - Reading First Letter from Secretary Spellings

FYI - You may be interested in the following letter sent from U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings to Senator Robert Byrd, Senator Thad Cochran, Senator Edward Kennedy, Senator Michael Enzi, Congressman David Obey, Congressman George Miller, Congressman Howard "Buck" McKeon and Congressman Jerry Lewis.

June 25, 2008

Dear [NAME]:

Reading is the skill on which all other learning depends.?? And so it is with disappointment I note recent Appropriations Subcommittee actions to eliminate critical funding for the groundbreaking Reading First program.

The program's origins trace back to a historic and bipartisan Congressional vote to create the National Reading Panel.?? The panel examined more than 20 years of scientific research to determine the most effective methods of reading instruction.

Reading First applies these findings to the classroom and to training teachers in the use of scientifically based reading research to improve the literacy skills of more than 1.6 million students.?? State-reported performance data released this month indicates impressive gains in reading comprehension,

Liam Julian

Christina, remember that the NEA headquarters is merely a??block away from the Russian embassy, the two being separated by just the University Club, the American Chemical Society, and M Street, if I'm not mistaken. I've long suspected an underground passageway connecting their outfits, and your perceptive juxtaposition has??only strengthened my suspicions.

Photo by Flickr user freedomtoast. (See the picture over at Flickr for a translation of the poster.)

Liam Julian

...that William F. Buckley, Jr., spoke no English until he was seven years old? Spanish was his first language, French his second. We read volumes about the need to offer pre-K in large part to ensure that a pupil begins Kindergarten??in possession of words the number of which does not substantially trail that of those at the beck and call of most of his classmates. I wonder, though, if a child whose vocabulary is paltry at age five is really in such bad shape, or if his skimpy vocabulary merely bespeaks other disadvantages that pre-K can't help. Surely Amber knows the answers, and I hope she'll tell them to me. And before anyone gets all huffy about this: No, I don't think Buckley's magical story should be the foundation on which we build early education houses. It merely made me think, is all, which happens infrequently enough to be worthy of documentation.

Liam Julian

The newest Gadfly is up. Amber's editorial is a fair-minded evaluation of the relevant research that seeks to clarify whether school-based childcare centers are a smart idea. She finds in favor of common sense. Checker gives us an update on the state of the charter movement; pretty good, he thinks. And don't miss the podcast--it's Kuhner's last. We're taking next week off for the Fourth, so Gadfly will next be coming to you July 10th.

Seventy-five percent more Americans Better said: Americans are seventy-five percent more likely to express confidence in the police than in the public schools. That's one take-away from this graph in today's Wall Street Journal, which shows that only one-third of Americans have "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in the schools.

It's also fair to say, however, that three times as many Americans express confidence in the public schools than in Congress. Perhaps lawmakers should remember that the next time they try to "fix" our education system.

The X Prize Foundation is teaming up with British telecoms giant BT to expand its offerings. The Financial Times says

The next prizes are likely to focus on cancer, renewable energy and oceanography. The foundation aims to revive a spirit of adventure in research, like the 18th-century prizes to measure longitude and the early 20th-century aviation prizes.

I guess I was foolish to expect the article to announce the unveiling of the long-awaited Education X Prize. The foundation's website shows they have thought a bit more about the idea, though.

I'd wager that stupid immigration policies, which George Will assails in today's Washington Post, pose a much greater threat to long-term American competitiveness than sub-par schools.

We were pretty busy yesterday with our event, so I didn't get the chance to comment on a surprising advertising supplement in Wednesday's Washington Post. I'm used to the Russian or Chinese government spewing propaganda between Sports and Food (hey, print newspapers need to make their money somehow), but this time it wasn't a commie cohort. Instead, it was the NEA! They had 4-plus pages of articles written by the likes of Linda Darling-Hammond, Reg Weaver, Kati Haycock, and even the CEO of Accenture (although he was confined to the back page). I didn't stop to read the substance, but wow, it had great graphics and layout. Very colorful and splashy. Our neighbors must have quite the advertising budget--if nothing else, they've certainly upped the ante for the next time Putin wants to wax philosophical on the beauty of Moscow.

We assiduously avoided putting a nerdy kid on the cover of our high-achieving students report. (We skipped the nerdy goggles too.) But now I'm thinking that pictures of any of these nerds would have made nice cover art, too (well, save for the one of Al Gore).