Liam Julian

The American Scholar notes, "Our best universities have forgotten that the reason they exist is to make minds, not careers."

Liam Julian

Wow! What a Gadfly!

Diane Ravitch takes issue with Checker's criticisms of the "Broader, Bolder" stuff; Checker responds; AFT President Randi Weingarten writes about why Checker is wrong to believe that schools cannot offer social services and top-flight academics; and Checker, once again, responds. You won't want to miss this!

This front-page Wall Street Journal article reports on the financial woes of the states, which are in the midst of a budget crunch due to the ailing economy and falling tax revenue. No doubt that means budget cuts ahead for public schools, at least in some states and some districts.

If recent history is any guide, though, this pain will be short-lived. When good times are here again, school spending will see a healthy rise, outpacing inflation by a significant measure. But will recent history be a guide?

As I mentioned in last week's Gadfly editorial , over the long-term at least, it seems unlikely that school spending can continue its fast clip forever. Everyone knows that the Baby Boomers are about to retire en masse, putting a huge strain on public resources. Meanwhile, the percentage of households with school-age children is dropping precipitously, down to about one in four today. That means that advocates for increased school spending will have to convince people with no direct stake in the schools to keep opening their wallets, even while they're getting hit with the social security and health care bills of the...

Liam Julian

The Washington Teachers' Union president tells it like it is (on The NewsHour):

JOHN MERROW: Rhee is hoping to tie teacher pay to student achievement. Because teacher union membership is declining, Rhee may have an edge in negotiations.

GEORGE PARKER: The charter school enrollment is increasing. Public school enrollment is decreasing. We are now a competitive school district where student achievement may very well determine our existence.

JOHN MERROW: More than a quarter of D.C.'s school-age children now attend public charter schools, where teachers do not have to belong to the union.

GEORGE PARKER: Normally, unions have not had to contend with any sense of accountability or responsibility for student achievement, and our existence and survival has not depended upon that.

JOHN MERROW: Why hasn't student achievement been a bread-and-butter issue for teacher unions all along?

GEORGE PARKER: I think that there has been a union paradigm of union and management of, "This is your turf. This is our turf."


Leaving aside the other problems he has with this week's Gadfly, commenter John Rim is exasperated by Checker's use of the word "kids" to describe America's school-going population:

You are in an elite group, together with Checker cabs and Chubby Checker.

You are also in another elite, those who prefer the word "kids" to students, pupils and the like. I counted four mentions of kids. Two in the same sentence.

Students ? No mention. Pupils ? No mention.

Do kids happen when goats mate?

"Kids" is more apt to be used when writing about poverty, disabilities--even tobacco smoking. ( Tobacco Kids )

Condescension, loud and clear.

Ignorant as I was of the symbolic significance of Checker cabs and Chubby Checker, perhaps my views on diction shouldn't be trusted, but I myself never hesitate to write "kids," especially when I've used up all the available synonyms, a point one arrives at frequently when writing about education policy. Nor, a quick scan reveals, do reporters for major newspapers:

When high concentrations of poor kids went to school together, Coleman reported,

Gadfly Studios

Mike and Stafford discuss Miley Cyrus's new single, "Breakout," which disparages school-going.

Liam Julian

I hope someone over at Education Sector gives a big hug to Kevin Carey, who is, judging by this post, in a foul mood, perhaps because he's trying unsuccessfully to make the case that one program at FSU (with which I was, as an undergraduate,??quite involved) successfully refutes affirmative action's problems, and that??America is??not currently besieged by all sorts of wacky educational theories and methodologies that were born in the 1960s and 1970s. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm??smack in the middle of Miles Gone By. I'm at the part where Buckley skis with Milton Friedman in Switzerland, just before he jets off to have tea with Maragaret Thatcher and right after he strangles 19 communist agents with his toes. Now, how to work this all into a blog post about education....

Campaign K-12 astutely points out that the number of "surrogates" representing the Obama campaign appears to be expanding infinitely. This morning one of those surrogates, Mike Johnston, sat down in the hot seat for a "reporter roundtable" with the national education press corps here at Fordham. (Last month we hosted, you guessed it, Lisa Graham Keegan to speak on behalf of the McCain campaign.)

Mike, like Lisa, is a friend and colleague and did a heckuva job fielding (and sometimes deferring) tough questions. He stuck to the Obama script, more or less, but a few interesting details emerged, at least for me:

-- When asked by the Washington Post editorial writer about the Senator's position on the D.C. voucher program, he stated bluntly that, as far as he knows, Obama is opposed to school vouchers "in any context." Perhaps that hard line will soften if Obama becomes president, particularly if he sends his own daughters to a private school once he moves to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

-- He wouldn't say if Obama supports national standards and...

Liam Julian

When we at the office have our tippling time, Coby tends to hang back, uncomfortable, no doubt, with all the "these young kids" bashing that transpires. In fact, Coby has often argued solidly (see here and here) that young people aren't to blame for all that ails the world. ??

USA Today's Greg Toppo gives him some back-up.

Liam Julian

Whew, that last post was a long one, and a bit heavy for these hot summer days. Nonetheless, sometimes we must wade into the tall grass, scythes in hand, and clear away the overgrowth. Bad arguments, like snakes, fester if such periodic maintenance is neglected.

Anyhow, here are some thoughts from the Washington Post editors on Michelle Rhee:

IT'S APPARENT that some D.C. teachers union officials don't think much of the people they represent. How else to explain their objections to Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee speaking to teachers about pending contract talks?