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?

Here's more on how Google, blogs, etc. supposedly turn our brains into grape Jell-o. (Previous post here.)

On tonight's NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, John Merrow interviews George Parker, president of the Washington Teachers Union. Here's a teaser from the transcript:

GEORGE PARKER: Prior to charter schools, for the most part, I think that as a union we could relax a little bit, because for the most part we were the only kid on the block.????And you pretty much had to come to us.????Unless you could afford to send your child to a private school or et cetera, you had no other choices.

Liam Julian

I said I'd do it, and I meant it. We begin with this portion from our latest "watch-worthy" post??(the basic point of which is that the blogger does not like gender-based college admissions preferences but??is fine with??race-based ones):

Because minority students are less likely to attend well-funded schools and less likely to get strong college prep curricula in high school, on average they enter the college admissions pool with weaker credentials than white students, and thus end up disproportionately attending less selective colleges. Affirmative action counteracts this, with the result being within-college racial/ethnic makeups that are more representative of the college student body as a whole.

Affirmative action "counteracts" the fact that minority students (black and Latino students, really) in general "enter the college admissions pool with weaker credentials than white students" only insofar as it overlooks those credentials. Affirmative action does nothing to solve the underlying problem, which is a yawning gap between the qualifications of black and Latino college applicants and those of their white and Asian counterparts. Instead, it simply ignores the??disparity and gives leniency to applicants of lesser academic qualifications as long as they??manage to be??black or Latino, which is troublesome for all...

Liam Julian

Jay Greene's blog led me to this, from the Cato Institute's Andrew Coulson:

To the left is a 1971 Chevrolet Impala. According to the New York Times of September 25th, 1970, it originally sold for $3,460. That's $19,011 in today's dollars. If cars were like public schools, you would be compelled to buy one of these today, and to pay $43,479 for that privilege (2.3 times the original price).

The bold portion presumably designates the bit that Coulson finds??totally whack (or is it wack, derivation wacky?), and he's right.??Coby is a big libertarian, so I bet he'll be pretty, pretty, pretty??steamed to discover that America's??public schools are actually??Impalas, especially when school systems already spend so much money on buses.

Liam Julian

If you live in Seattle and you just can't seem to slake your thirst for discussions about school diversity, I'll be on the David Boze talk-radio show today, chatting about the direction that some districts (including, perhaps, Seattle) are taking their school-assignment plans. Much auditory??hand wringing and finger wagging??promises to??go down.

Over twenty years ago, Bill Bennett popularized the term, "The Education Blob." The Blob is the seemingly infinite ocean of alphabet-soup organizations that lobby on behalf of educators and in opposition to any reforms that might upset the status quo. The teachers unions are the blobbiest of The Blob, but they have many allies in administrator associations, school board groups, professional associations, etc.

So to illustrate the intransigence of The Education Blob to adopt positive change, I hereby announce our new weekly feature, The Blobbiest Quote of the Week. And now, the inaugural winner...

Richard Flanary, the director of professional development services for the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP for short), who was quoted in Thursday's Education Daily (available to subscribers only, of which I think there are about 74) responding to John McCain's call for greater authority for school principals:

Certainly we support greater spending autonomy, but there needs to be more clarity on the criteria on which principals make these decisions. Principals already?? have very busy schedules, and I would hate to think that they would get caught in a situation where they are the purveyors of funds.

Yes, that would...