Liam Julian

The National Council of La Raza is headquartered one block from our office. Despite what their spokesmen may or may not tell you, "La Raza" means "The Race," and it's a term that has gained an impressive toehold in some k-12 public schools as "Raza studies." (It's on college campuses, too, of course. One can earn a B.A. in Raza Studies from the University of San Francisco, for example, and then graduate fully prepared for a life of grievance and groaning.) Here's an article detailing the Raza nonsense peddled in some Tucson, Arizona, high schools. If you're into this type of thing, perhaps in order is??a junket to the 10th Annual Institute for Transformative Education seminar, sponsored by the Tucson Unified School District's Mexican-American/Raza Studies Department and the University of Arizona College of Education.

Classroom teachers will have the opportunity to learn from and work with the leading scholars in the areas of Latino critical race theory, critical race theory, critical multicultural education, Chicana/o studies, ethnic studies, cultural studies, critical pedagogy, and critical race pedagogy.

It's incredible, really....

KIPP schools mostly serve the middle grades and thus spend much of their time plugging the gaps in knowledge and skills that students picked up early on in traditional public schools. But imagine if the youngsters entering KIPP middle schools came from KIPP elementary schools . The mind reels at the possibilities.

The New York Times marks the midway point of Newark mayor Cory Booker's first term with a supportive editorial. Meanwhile, Booker spent yesterday evening at Metropolitan Baptist Church in Newark to welcome incoming superintendent (and former D.C. schools chief) Clifford Janey.

The well-seasoned Janey (he's 61) sounded the right notes. For instance:

"It makes no sense and is actually harmful to move students along and provide them with a phony diploma," he said to one burst of applause. "We will not only look at the standards but the promotion policies from elementary right through high schools."

That's a highly worthwhile undertaking. As Checker and Liam pointed out in Gadfly a few weeks ago, most states and districts struggle to maintain meaningful academic standards when lots of students can't meet them. Holding back or denying diplomas to 50 percent of...

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....