Today's is Samuel Freedman's last New York Times column, he reports. That's a real shame, as he brought a great amount of compassion, and common sense, to his writing on education. For example:

No education column received greater reader response than one last August about an award-winning, idealistic young math teacher, Austin Lampros. He had been overruled by his principal at the High School of Arts and Technology in Manhattan when he tried to give a failing grade to a senior who missed scores of classes, didn't even show up to take the final and claimed a dubious medical excuse.

The student got her passing grade and her diploma. The principal still has her job. The only loser was Mr. Lampros, who quit a profession he adored rather than be party to a travesty.

Now we'll have one less voice speaking up for academic standards. Which means that there aren't many of those voices left....

Liam Julian

If high-quality teachers don't want to work in schools where students of one race predominate (a claim that seems dubious, for the reasons Mike points out), this fact??remains: students at lots of schools are going to be of the same race. Alas, housing patterns make it so. The nation should've learned from its busing experiences--which hastened k-12's racial separation--that socially engineered school assignments don't work. Forcing students to attend class across town, whether it encourages more highly qualified teachers or not, is no longer a realistic option for school districts. We waste time acting as if it is.

That's one implication of her recent post about my take on the "resegregation" of Seattle's schools. I lauded Seattle's superintendent and school board for prioritizing student achievement over concerns about the racial make-up of their classes. Eduwonkette responds:

Here are my two cents on this false choice: Even if you only care about student achievement, racial composition is important. Put simply, it's more difficult to attract and retain high-quality teachers in schools that are racially isolated. There are oodles of papers on this topic, but here is a good one. Mike has more to say about this point, so I'll let him take it from here...

I do indeed! That's an interesting rebuttal from Eduwonkette, though wouldn't high-flying schools such as KIPP, the Amistad Academy, etc. contradict that argument? Don't they show that great teachers will teach at racially isolated schools that are well-run? Isn't it possible that teachers just don't want to teach at dysfunctional schools, which unfortunately is how many racially isolated schools could be described?

This is a causation/correlation quandary. If racially isolated schools tend to be located in high-crime areas, or led by weak principals, or lacking in...

Still trying to get your head around the recent Reading First evaluation? Do you work on Capitol Hill and want to give your member of Congress a quick overview of the hub-bub? Cut and paste this Eduflack entry and you're golden.

The Seattle Times is into the third day of its series on the "resegregation" of the Seattle Public Schools. (See Sunday's, yesterday's, and today's articles.) The first quote in the first article makes the paper's angle clear:

"We like to think of ourselves as these enlightened, liberal folks," says School Board member Harium Martin-Morris. "But the fact is our schools aren't the way that people really think they are."

So what's the way Seattle's schools are? They are, by and large, racially imbalanced, with percentages of minority children that tend to be much higher or much lower than the district average. As goes Seattle, so go most of our schools--because people still tend to live in racially imbalanced communities. (Though Monday's story illustrates that housing patterns don't explain everything.) The Times obviously wants its readers to be outraged about this. Thus the use of the highly charged (and highly inaccurate) word, "resegregation."

But guess what? Many people in Seattle--particularly those running its schools--don't appear outraged. According to the paper, they are "resigned."

Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson hopes Seattle residents see the value of living and going to school with people from a wide mix


While Eduwonk Andy and Leo Casey of the United Federation of Teachers spar about teacher collective bargaining agreements and whether or not they "prevent educational innovation," some unionized teachers in Denver weigh in with views of their own. Their verdict: indeed they do.

Nearly two dozen teachers from Denver's Montclair Elementary took a field trip of their own Friday--to their union headquarters to urge a vote on the school's six-week-old request for autonomy.

Montclair is the third Denver Public School, and the first elementary, to seek freedoms from district and union rules in budgeting, hiring and scheduling.

Casey may argue that collective bargaining agreements don't stand in the way of flexibility. Even his fellow teacher union members aren't buying that one.

Liam Julian

From this Palm Beach Post article, about college graduates??who have??a tough time finding jobs:

About 75 percent to 80 percent of UCF students who completed internships found a job in the field they majored in, he said. For students who had no job training outside the classroom, the number is less than 50 percent.

It's not news that internships are important, or that most interns earn paltry sums that usually don't cover even their living expenses and that, therefore, lots of??poor students are excluded from their ranks. But as more less-qualified pupils enter college, as a college degree's value??is degraded, garnering competitive internships will grow evermore important for 20-year-olds??who desire good jobs after they graduate.??Look for anti-internship articles like this??and testimonials from college grads who, unable to do a sophomore-year summer stint in D.C., now find themselves with a B.A. and without a job--all coming to an op-ed page near you....

Liam Julian

From Ed Week: States that set easy targets during No Child Left Behind's early years will now??"have to make annual gains of 10 percentage points or more in the proportion of students scoring as proficient in those subjects...."

In a Gadfly article that's ruffled some feathers, Mike wrote last week that "the health insurance costs associated with treating overweight teachers and other school staff are taking a major bite out of public education budgets. I estimate that these costs come to at least $2.5 billion annually--more than Maine spends on its entire k-12 system in a year."

Liam, for one, wasn't offended. On the contrary, he was driven to action: he stayed up all night penning this Policy Review piece on Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food. It's a must-read for teachers looking to eat better and the school administrators who wish they would. (Those with only a passing interest in education will find much of interest, as well.)

Photo by Flickr user snrang.

My short post today on the decision of a couple-dozen Denver high school teachers to skip school last Friday did not sit well with one commenter and at least one educator. The commenter wrote:

How dare teachers take action about their professional concerns during professional hours! They should do this on Saturdays ... or at night ... like the rest of the professional world.

If I'm interpreting the sarcasm properly here, this person is suggesting that professionals in other industries commonly leave their workplaces while they're on the clock to protest at their company's central offices. To tighten the comparison, let's say we're talking about service industries--places where the workers, like teachers, get paid for serving others and have to be at their workplace at appointed hours to do their job, unlike someone who works in an office and tackles their various tasks at their own leisure.

Now, in what service industry are employees free to skip work--i.e., to leave their customers high and dry--to air their grievances? I find it strange that this commenter (who I would address directly if he or she hadn't left a fake name and email address) thinks teachers suffer some unique...