Liam Julian

David Broder writes today about America's national identity and whether the nation's young people are learning enough about it. He sees a lot to like in the Bradley Foundation's E Pluribus Unum report, which notes that today's students seem to know much less about history and their country's government than did their predecessors. But Broder isn't too concerned. He writes:

Young people may not know the Constitution as well as we would like, but they found their way to polling places in record numbers this year and joined enthusiastically in many campaigns. And they volunteer for all kinds of good works in their communities.

Pointing out that young people went to the polls in record numbers and that they volunteer in their communities is not an effective way to disabuse anyone of the idea that those young people don't know much. Enthusiasm is not, in itself, a virtue. History is replete with examples of rallied populations whose ignorance imbued their enthusiasm with the potential for unseemly consequences. Too often, those consequences??came to pass.??In fact, a persuasive argument can be made that young??Americans' relative flock to...

Liam Julian

The NEA is gathering in Washington--some "10,000 delegates and a few thousand other union members and guests," according to the Washington Post. The union is going to decide whether to offer its presidential endorsement to Barack Obama or to John McCain. (I wonder what are the Vegas odds on McCain?) What's interesting about this, though, is that Obama will address the group on Saturday. I predict that Mr. Postpartisanism (a concept that shares much with postmodernism), will offer up a bland speech about making sure all children have a future and all teachers have support and all American classrooms are splendid. Maybe he throws in a few lines??like, "We??should reward the best teachers as they deserve to be rewarded,"??from which??ed-reform tasseographers can??divine the candidate's future support for merit pay. The key, of course, is for Obama to give a talk that a) doesn't offend the NEA and b) doesn't make him sound any less postpartisanismishy. We'll see if he can pull it off.

Liam Julian

Britain's schools minister is Lord Adonis. Its schools secretary is Mr. Balls.

Liam Julian

Britain's schools minister is Lord Adonis. Its schools secretary is Mr. Balls.

New Philadelphia schools CEO Arlene Ackerman is making an impression right away; the Philadelphia Inquirer reports:

More than 200 Philadelphia School District staffers received layoff notices this week, a move the new schools chief hopes will begin to de-centralize the district and move resources into classrooms.

The employees were all academic coaches, mostly veteran educators who supported teachers in a variety of roles, from technology to mentoring new teachers.

In short, she's quickly asserting control over a behemoth bureaucracy, much like Michelle Rhee is in D.C.

The Philly union leader suggests it's for show: "This is the kind of thing that happens each time a superintendent takes over." I might be so cynical myself, except we know that such central-office "coaches" are often poorly managed and, unbeknownst to them or anyone else, can help cause huge funding inequities between schools. Marguerite Roza has studied this phenomenon; in an anonymous city where four psychologists float among 10 schools, one "says she spends most of her time at a school where the principal ???values her work,'" and another "spends the largest portion of her days at the school her own child attends." As a result, some schools...

There's been a development in New York City's "rubber room" controversy. According to the Daily News, the Department of Ed has agreed to hire more arbitrators and tighten investigation procedures in an effort to expedite the cases of teachers put on prohibition for misconduct.

The baby boomers are on the way out of the nation's colleges and universities. The New York Times reports that liberal professors birthed into academia in the 1960s and 70s are retiring--and being replaced by younger and more politically moderate academics. This shift has had numerous effects, not the least of which is the exit of ideology in the way academics understand and study public education.

Michael Olneck, a professor from the University of Wisconsin and the article's token old guard professor, introduced the syllabus in a class last year entitled, "Race, Ethnicity and Inequality in American Education" with the following: "Schools in the United States promise equal opportunity. They have not kept that promise. In this course, we will try to find out why." By contrast, Sara Goldrick-Rab, his new guard replacement, embraces a more empirically based approach. Her class on inequality and opportunity in community colleges will have an "emphasis on the critical evaluation and assessment of current up-to-date research".

The renaissance of data will undoubtedly have a great impact in the field of education. With colleges full of professors who haven't lived through the Civil Rights Movement, Brown v. Board, and a host of...

You may remember that both Amber and Liam first alerted us to, and then wrote on, what's now being called the Gloucester pregnancy pact--that a group of sophomore girls in Gloucester, MA decided to get pregnant and raise their babies en masse. Well, Time's Editor-at-Large Nancy Gibbs thinks the Gloucester incident should be interpreted differently.

In a July 7 article appropriately titled "Give the Girls a Break," Gibbs argues that the lesson is not that there are more teen pregnancies or that we should find the "anecdotal evidence" supporting the pact "certainly troubling." (Wow Nancy, I award you the understatement of the year award.) Instead, she says, maybe this incident is an indication of changing teenage attitudes about abortion. I'm not going to go near the validity of this conclusion; what I'm interested in is the absolute insanity of her argument. Gibbs decides that teenage girls (and boys) have more respect for life because the Gloucester girls kept their babies. Wait a second... wasn't the whole controversy over this slew of pregnancies about the fact the babies were planned? (And maybe the fact that one of the fathers was a 24-year-old homeless guy--as reported by...

I'll ignore the rest of Leo Casey's EdWize post this morning in favor of this one comment:

Are Checker and the boys in a competition to publish the ultimate reductio absurdum?

Leo: Meet Amber, Stafford, and Christina. Women. Who write for this blog (and have done so for several weeks now). If you're going to call out the Fordham team, find a more gender-neutral way to do so. And you call yourself a liberal.

Photo by Flickr user drbrain.

In today's Wall Street Journal, we hear from college graduates who recognized a crummy job market and decided to channel their energies into service programs, like Teach for America. Great idea, right? More teachers for TFA in the interim and more opportunities to introduce grads to a career they may not have thought about.

But then we read this:

Teach for America has an agreement with certain companies, such as J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., to grant corps members with existing job offers a two-year "deferral" so they can teach for two years and still have a job waiting for them when their commitment is over. It also runs something akin to a career-placement office to connect former teachers with recruiters at major companies, including General Electric Co., McKinsey & Co. and Google Inc.

And this:

That kind of partnership with non-teaching career paths helped Mike Stewart's father feel better about his son's joining the organization. "My fear was that he'd go into the teaching world right off the bat," after his service, says the elder Mike Stewart, executive vice president of a medical-device company. "One thing that gives me some comfort is that he is