Liam Julian

Here's a fine wrap-up, from Ed Week (subscription required, but why?),??of the NEA convention.??The article's??title, "NEA President-Elect Pledges to Stay the Course," tells you??most of what??you need to know.??With the NEA, after all, it's??"Solidarity Forever."

Totally creepy.

Liam Julian

AP reports that he'll do it next week when he speaks at the NAACP convention.

Update: More from Campaign K-12.

Liam Julian

Here's more on TJ, i.e, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, in Fairfax County, Virginia.

Bobby Jindal may be wrong in trying to get religion back into science classrooms but at least he's playing by the (text)book. MSNBC reported yesterday that a science teacher in Mount Vernon, Ohio, burned crosses into the arms of his students.

Apparently, this purveyor of literal messages was trying to demonstrate a classroom device to students... by using it on them.

Mike's post about the Obama girls sent me briefly to the website of the University of Chicago lab school that they attend, where I??discovered not only that this PRIVATE school has a teachers union ("faculty association") but also that??administration and union haven't been able to agree on a new contract!

This is??from the director's latest newsletter:

At the conclusion of the 2007-2008 school year, the administration and Faculty Association were unable to reach agreement on a new multi-year contract. Ten negotiating sessions were held beginning on February 11 and concluding on June 9. Considerable progress was made on all matters with the exception of salary. Both parties agreed to meet during the third week of August and attempt to reach a conclusion by the beginning of the 2008-2009 school year.

Will the Democratic candidate for President allow his daughters to cross the teachers'??picket line in September? Or, like the current??dispute between school system and teacher union in Democratic-convention-hosting Denver, will a way be found to patch things up before it embarrasses??the campaign?...

Liam Julian

Thusly titled was Dorothy Rabinowitz's??article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal, a piece that looked at the race-based shenanigans that??affected one student at Purdue University.

Liam Julian

An article on NRO defends Louisiana's evolution muddle, a muddle that Governor Bobby Jindal has done much to bring about. The author writes:

Students need to know about the current scientific consensus on a given issue, but they also need to be able to evaluate critically the evidence on which that consensus rests. They need to learn about competing interpretations of the evidence offered by scientists, as well as anomalies that aren't well explained by existing theories.

Right. Because, you know, 11-year-olds are so capable of critically evaluating advanced scientific minutiae. Because, you know, preteens (or even high-school students, for that matter) are such judicious thinkers, so savvy when separating scientific reasoning from philosophical musing. Because, you know, they should of course be doing all this in their biology classes.

The Cristo Rey network of schools (featured in our Catholic schools report) may benefit from a Congressional earmark if the current Senate appropriations bill goes through, reports the Des Moines Register. This is hardly the first school reform group to benefit from pork-barrel spending; Teach For America, for example, has been hitting the earmark jackpot for years. Which brings to mind the age-old question: does the end justify the means? If John McCain becomes president this question may become moot; he promises to eliminate all earmarks, regardless of their worth.

Photo by Flickr user beeldenzeggenmeer....

Kudos to Education Secretary Margaret Spellings for taking to the pages of the Washington Post to defend DC's endangered school voucher program. But I can't help wondering, yet again, what's up at 400 Maryland Avenue. I've never viewed Spellings as a strong supporter of school choice, though she continues to fight hard to protect this $13-million-a-year program. (Maybe it's time I admit that she's a voucher advocate, after all.) But what's beyond doubt is that she's a believer in scientifically-based reading programs (once claiming "phonics" as her religion). And yet, when it comes to the impending death of her beloved billion-dollar-a-year Reading First program, all she does is send letters and issue statements.

Madame Secretary and associates: may I suggest that the next time you place a Post op-ed, you make it about Reading First?...

Rereading this Washington Post article on Michelle Rhee's plan to woo teachers into ceding tenure and seniority privileges, I noticed a passage near the end that illuminates a different ed policy discussion:

Rhee can restrict seniority rights through a little-used District law that allows principals to diminish seniority rankings and use them among several other factors... The law was aimed at addressing "bumping rights," which allow senior teachers losing their positions during cutbacks to displace less-experienced peers at other schools.

"Bumping rights had been viewed as a problem for those of us trying to get quality teachers in the classroom. But we knew it was a challenge getting it out of the contracts," Kevin P. Chavous, who was on the D.C. Council when the law passed, said in a recent interview. "Even after the law was passed, superintendents operated under the assumption that bumping rights were still there."

Chavous's observation bolsters the claim that at least some of the blame for poorly-run schools should be redirected from unions to lily-livered leaders. In this Chavous echoes a recent Fordham report, The Leadership Limbo , which found that many big-district teacher contracts give school and district leaders...