Great article in today's Wall Street Journal about the Catholic church vs. Catholic school unions. It's especially intriguing because the Church-union relationship is slightly more complex than the typical pro- or anti-union situation. Catholics have, for generations, spoken in favor of and marched alongside unions in the United States and abroad. We know Catholic schools are in crisis, but how will the Church address its history of supporting other unions when the fight has now come to its own backyard?

Liam Julian

Education Week looks at how much money??each presidential candidate would??devote to schools.

Word around Washington is that Congress is unlikely to finish its appropriations bills before the election and may choose to pass a yearlong "continuing resolution" for all of fiscal year 2009. That might sound arcane, but here's the silver lining: such a move would save Reading First from its imminent demise. That's because the program is receiving about $400 million this fiscal year and, with a continuing resolution, would receive the same next. That's $400 million more than it would receive otherwise, as both chambers of Congress zeroed out the program in their appropriations bills.

Liam Julian

Mica Pollock, an "anthropologist of education," which I assume means that she excavates fossilized Australopithecus pencil boxes in the Olduvai Gorge, graciously comments about my last post (in which I quoted from an interview with her about her new book):

I too believe in clarity. I'll use shorter sentences for you. These come straight from my book, Everyday Antiracism: Getting Real about Race in School.

Antiracism in education involves:

1. Rejecting false notions of human difference

2. Acknowledging lived experiences shaped along racial lines

3. Learning from diverse forms of knowledge and experience

4. Challenging systems of racial inequality.

Brevity doesn't equal clarity, and I remain befuddled. For instance, if #1 and #3 refer to race--that is, if race is a false notion of difference and also the diversity to which #3 refers--which I think they do, then??is it not the case that??#1 contradicts #3? Come to think of it, what does #3 actually mean? I recently wrote a piece about how one school district attempts to teach "diverse forms of knowledge and experience," and it didn't sound like that district was doing a very good thing at all. And how are teachers supposed to go about??attending...

Liam Julian

Eduwonkette provides a fine example of the??educational gobbledygook that we must??hack away in order to find some clarity. Here's a snippet:

This is why the "antiracist" educator must negotiate between two antiracist impulses in deciding her everyday behaviors toward students. She must choose between the antiracist impulse to treat all people as human beings rather than racial group members, and the antiracist impulse to recognize people's real experiences as racial group members in order to counteract racial inequality.

How true. In fact, as an "antinonsense" writer, I encounter a similar struggle everyday when I choose between the antinonsense impulse to point out and lambast such balderdash and the antinonsense impulse to let it alone and hope that it will die of its own accord.

Liam Julian

Didn't we come out in favor of burning crosses into students' flesh??in our recent report, Who Will Save America's Urban Catholic Schools???Or am??I confusing??cross-branding with another of our??recommendations,??like turning??excess school facilities over to charter networks with a proven track record?

Update: Yup, I was indeed confusing forcible cross-branding with giving excess facilities to good charter-school networks. We're in favor of the latter, not the former.

That's my take on the new Marcus Winters/Jay Greene/Julie Trivitt study on the impact of high-stakes testing on low-stakes subjects in Florida. According to its executive summary, the study examined whether labeling schools with an "F" motivated them to increase learning in science, even though it didn't "count" in the Sunshine State's accountability system:

-- The F-grade sanction produced after one year a gain in student science proficiency of about a 0.08 standard deviation. These gains are similar to those in reading and appear smaller than the gains in math that were due to the F sanction.

--There is some evidence to suggest that student science proficiency increased primarily because student learning in math and reading enabled that increase. That is, learning in math and reading appear to contribute to learning in science.

    That sounds reasonable enough to me, though Eduwonkette wants to see all the technical details to know whether the methodology stands up. (I'm not smart enough to figure that out; that's why we have Amber!)

    My beef is with the study's pre-release spin. The Greene Machine directly juxtaposes its paper with statements by our...

    Liam Julian

    The folks at The Corner are having some debate about Louisiana's Science Education Act.

    (Don't miss tomorrow's Gadfly, which promises additional opining on this topic.)

    Photo by Flickr user jason_coleman.

    Liam Julian

    Yesterday, he who is the Democrat presumed nominated, Barack Obama, said this:

    You know, I don't understand when people are going around worrying about, "We need to have English-only." They want to pass a law, "We want English-only."

    Now, I agree that immigrants should learn English. I agree with that. But understand this. Instead of worrying about whether immigrants can learn English--they'll learn English--you need to make sure your child can speak Spanish. You should be thinking about, how can your child become bilingual? We should have every child speaking more than one language.

    You know, it's embarrassing when Europeans come over here, they all speak English, they speak French, they speak German. And then we go over to Europe, and all we can say [is], "Merci beaucoup." Right?

    I wonder if??his assertion that "they'll learn English" is necessarily true, especially if they refers to kids whose parents may speak no English at home and who are??enrolled in lousy schools (or bilingual education classes). The word??learn is certainly vague--when Obama says "they'll learn English," does he mean that students will be able to communicate verbally, or that they'll be able to write decently, or that they'll both speak...

    Liam Julian

    "Gambling addict gets 18 months for embezzling schools"

    It started with small stuff, like overhead projectors. But when she bet the library in a game of high-stakes hold???em, the clinic on red, and the playground on Federer, and lost them all, administrators suspected something was amiss.