Flypaper

Liam Julian

Britain's largest teachers' union will vote, at its upcoming annual conference, to determine how many students the ideal class should enroll. What bosh! Perhaps I should take an office poll about the appropriate number of employees at an education-policy think tank? One may argue that teachers manage their own classrooms and therefore have a darn good idea about how many students they can adequately teach, but that's at best an unsettled claim. It is settled, however, that taxpayers, not teachers, are footing the bill for public education, and scant are the data showing that pupils in smaller classes learn more.Therefore, it seems a poor investment of the public's money to lower class sizes when little to no educational improvement will result. Furthermore, Checker Finn has written:

Over the past half-century, the number of pupils in U.S. schools grew by about 50 percent while the number of teachers nearly tripled. Spending per student rose threefold, too. If the teaching force had simply kept pace with enrollments, school budgets had risen as they did, and nothing else changed, today's average teacher would earn nearly $100,000, plus generous benefits. We'd have a radically different view of the job and it would attract different sorts of people. Yes, classes would be larger-about what they were when I was in school.

The obsession with lowering class sizes has kept teacher salaries stagnant--not a good thing for teachers but a wonderful thing for their unions, which have rapidly added to their...

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Over at the "ELL Advocates" blog, whole language apologist Stephen Krashen makes a lame attempt to poke holes in Sol Stern's recent Fordham report, Too Good to Last: The True Story of Reading First. In particular, he takes issue with Stern's claim that the Golden State's adoption of whole language reading in 1987 led to California's disastrous, bottom of the barrel NAEP performance in 1992. Krashen is right about one point: The '92 NAEP was the first to break out results state-by-state, so it's impossible to know whether California's scores "plummeted," as Stern argues. But then Krashen goes on to make a fool of himself. First, he offers this stunning piece of revisionist history:

Whole language, according to (urban) legend, was introduced by the 1987 Framework committee, which I was a member of. The 1987 Framework committee never mentioned whole language. We recommended that language arts be literature-based, hardly a revolutionary idea. Phonics was never forbidden.

This is ridiculous; of course California adopted whole language reading in 1987. For the definitive history of this episode, see here. Then Krashen goes on to argue:

Of great interest, and rarely noted, is that fact that California still ranks at the bottom of the US. NAEP scores released 2007 show that California is still in the basement, in a virtual tie for last place with Mississippi and Louisiana. Dumping whole language did not improve things.

But if dumping whole language did not improve things, why...

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Liam Julian

Florida's governor rightly opposes this bone-headed bill.

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Gadfly Studios

This is what $60 million gets you.

httpv://youtube.com/watch?v=Cfuy6tVpTfM

(The original Ed in 08 video is here.)

Rumors are circulating that the Secretary is about to announce her resignation from the Department of Education. Texas governor's office , here she comes?

Liam Julian

For the same reason I'm opposed to sex-ed class in schools, I'm opposed to clubs like this. A parent sends his students to a public school to receive a rigorous education in the core curriculum. Parents should not be forced to send their children to public schools that allow controversial subjects--unrelated to science, math, geography, etc.--to be a part of the school environment. Such subjects distract from what needs to be occurring in classrooms and often isn't: learning.

UPDATE:

Will Okun, who teaches school in Chicago, blogs at the New York Times:

I do not understand why society and parents rely on our much criticized, overcrowded and under-funded schools to teach children about such important issues as abstinence and safe sex?

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Ed in '08 mastermind Roy Romer--whose lively career has also included stints as the L.A. superintendent, Colorado governor, and Democratic National Committee chairman--let it slip today that he thinks the Democratic candidate who amasses the most pledged delegates should get the nomination. USA Today's "on politics" blog reports that this standard

is likely to favor Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. [Romer] didn't pick up on a reporter's suggestion that the overall popular vote should matter, too. That's probably a disappointment to New York Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign. Romer was a national co-chairman of her husband's presidential re-election campaign in 1996 and became general chairman of the DNC in January 1997, while Bill Clinton was president and the nation's leading Democrat....Romer also praised Obama's speech Tuesday on race relations in America. "When you get a hot one coming in, you don't duck it, you look at it right in the eye," Romer said. "I thought he demonstrated that."

Ed in '08 has thus far bent over backwards to protect its nonprofit status, being careful to avoid praising or criticizing specific candidates. Careful, Roy...

Liam Julian

Teachers in Nashua, New Hampshire, have threatened to strike unless they reach a contract settlement by March 31.

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Or so this blogger says. Heatedly picking apart several recent National Review Online pieces on Obama's controversial latest speech, he offers up this gem on Liam's piece:

"If Obama wants to move past the divisive racial politics of the past, why does he rehash these divisive racial politics of the past?" - Liam Julian.

Because, f***nuts, pretending everything is fine when it isn't? That's Republican strategy. It ain't f***ng working in Iraq, it's not f***ing working in the financial markets, it's not f***ing working about climate change, and it won't f***ing work on race either. It only works for individual Republicans who get out before the bombs go off, their portfolio collapses, their coast gets flooded, or the riots start.

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