We are pretty good at generating buzz for upcoming reports at Fordham (doesn't hurt that those reports are typically buzzworthy) but this article in Education Week yesterday fostered buzz without alerting me to the bite. It summarizes what I imagine to be fairly complex research findings on a topic that many folks are interested in, then doesn't tell us exactly when the actually study is to be published or released (sometime "soon"). So I rely on the journalist's take of the findings (risky but unavoidable).

Harvard researcher Tom Kane and colleagues apparently conducted a random assignment study analyzing whether students in classrooms with National Boards teachers (i.e., those that have received the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards-NBPTS-credential) learned more than students taught by comparison teachers. To my knowledge, this is the first random assignment study conducted on this contentious topic (see here, here, and here). We're told that students with teachers with high ratings on the Boards gained more than students in classes with lower-scoring Board teachers. And though test score differences between students with Board teachers and with non-applicant teachers were positive, they were not statistically significant....

Liam Julian

If you're looking for a solid primer on schools in the U.K., you could do worse than this article from the London Review of Books, which breaks down nicely that country's educational evolution. Britain is a famously class-oriented society, and until 1944, its educational system was class-based, too. Long story short: After a half-century of attempting to make its schools less divisive, in today's U.K., according to the article's author, "There is no longer any significant political support for a universal system of comprehensive education."

Liam Julian

The forthcoming debate between Sol Stern and Chris Cerf, over at Eduwonk, should be must-see blogging.

Liam Julian

This news item out of the U.K. truly confounds.

Liam Julian

The teachers, it seems, are upset with me. I annoyed more than a few of them when I wrote, in my review of HBO's Hard Times at Douglass High, that the educators at Douglass High School in Baltimore "weren't cutting it." The documentary seemed to make that pretty clear; so, too, the school's culture and test scores. And yet, as so many classroom managers are quick to note, I've just missed it all so very badly.

Take this chap, for example, a teacher who in a particularly fired-up blog post tagged me with a rather unflattering sobriquet. He did not like my diagnosis of what ails Douglass High. But as a co-worker pointed out, when one takes to the blogosphere to rain insults upon others, one should, as a matter of course, take pains to do so in a grammatically appropriate manner. Our friend (the, ahem, teacher) has failed in that task through his predilection for inserting apostrophes whenever he deems them necessary, proper grammar be damned--e.g., "According to its author, Liam Julian, it's incompetent administrators' and teachers' who are to...

If you're the type of Flypaper reader who only has time for the latest postings, not those published a whole two hours ago and invisible without scrolling, I commend to you Liam's update to this post; after reading it, I think you'll agree, you'll be better informed about blogging etiquette and, frankly, kind of glad that William Buckley-esque wit lives on.

Gadfly wasn't pleased with the Philadelphia Inquirer last week, as the paper saw only bad news in the Philadelphia School District's decision to take back six of the 38 schools that have been managed by private operators since 2002. Well, Sunday's Washington Post didn't find any silver linings either, calling it a "severe setback" and closing with a quote admonishing the supposed "quick fix" mentality behind this reform plan.

We can agree to disagree. But at least the Post did here what it does well--sniff out the politics at play. It reports (and perhaps editorializes) that since 2002, "What has changed in Philadelphia, as elsewhere across the country, appears to be the political atmosphere. Pennsylvania's governor is now a Democrat, Edward G. Rendell. And the privatization wave now seems a little pass??."

I hope that seeking out quality school managers--and yes, it's possible those could even exist outside a district bureaucracy--never becomes "pass??." But one fears this could get worse in Philly before it gets better, so I'll be watching to see if recently-hired schools CEO Arlene Ackerman, a sensible reformer, will withstand or join this anti-privatization wave....

The conversion of seven Catholic schools in Washington, D.C., to charter schools is off to a rough start, as the Washington Post reports today that the city's budget failed to provide funding for these schools, and they won't get their first payments in July.

Robert Crane, of Friends of Choice in Urban Schools, is quoted saying "I told [D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C.] Gray's people repeatedly that the kids were going to show up in the public schools one way or the other," and Public Charter School Board chair Tom Nida gets right to the point, that "this couldn't have been to anyone's surprise."

No, anyone reading the Post , or better yet, Flypaper and Who Will Save America's Urban Catholic Schools ? would have seen this conversion coming from a mile away. Fortunately, the schools plan to open using loans and philanthropy. I just hope the District catches up soon....

At first glance, this New York Times article on Brooklyn's Urban Assembly School for Law and Justice looks to be another feel-good story about the small schools initiative. It mentions the usual statistics--93 percent of seniors graduated, most are going to college, etc--but then the article takes a moment to focus on the dedicated teachers who make it all possible. As in many high-performing charter schools, this specific small school has a young principal (Elana Karopkin, 32). For four years she's led the school and produced what on the surface appear to be positive results. But, Ms. Karopkin is leaving her school to become an assistant superintendent at Achievement First. Here's what she has to say about the move:

Ms. Karopkin said it would be unfair to say she was burned out, but admitted she was nothing less than "exhausted," both physically and emotionally. "You are taking a bunch of hyper, type A perfectionist people and giving them a herculean task," she said. "People have to work much too hard to do what we are doing. People cannot work at this level all their lives and nobody is prepared to do something at a level of mediocrity."


Liam Julian

Checker takes to the Wall Street Journal's op-ed pages to communicate to Ohioans this message: Wake up.