Mike just quoted this from the Rocky Mountain News:

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.

While it's encouraging that Denver high school teachers are demanding more freedom from union rules, one wonders, didn't any of this school's twenty-four protesting teachers have classes to teach on Friday?

Every May and June hordes of school groups descend on Washington, D.C. Each year, like clockwork, we wonks witness gaggles of tweens and teens take over our commutes. They're marked by a tendency to stand on both sides of the Metro escalator, yell and scream in the Metro tunnels, and cram into the center of the Metro car. They can be a local's worst nightmare. But during my past two commutes, riding the train home yesterday and to Fordham this morning, I witnessed a new kind of school group: the KIPP group.

They appear as a small army of pre-teens in matching t-shirts, standing single-file on the right side of the escalator. Several adults walk alongside various points in the line while one leader holds court...

Republicans should be thankful that, according to Rasmussen,* education ranks only sixth out of ten issues for American voters right now, because Congressional Democrats are opening up a big lead on the issue again--fifteen points in May, up from six points in April. On only "health care" and "government ethics" are Republicans faring worse. Perhaps that's because Republicans aren't talking about the issue, while Democrats (particularly their presidential candidates) are talking about it all the time. To close this gap, the GOP needs a positive agenda on the issue--one that transcends the increasingly unpopular No Child Left Behind Act. That's a job for Senator John McCain--and his colleagues in the Republican Congressional caucus.

* Hat tip to "angryteacher" at the Buckeye State Blog.

Liam Julian

With the release of every new education report, it seems, we hear from commentators that the findings are promising but certainly do not constitute a "silver bullet" or a "panacea" for k-12's problems. No longer. This sounds like a bonafide silver bullet to me.

Liam Julian

The latest issue of Commentary contains a review of Checker's newest book, Troublemaker. It's available here for subscribers.

Baffled by America's arcane process for electing a president, the Edmonton Sun's Edward Greenspan has this to say:

One super delegate is Inez Tenenbaum, South Carolina's former education superintendent. That makes her the most super super delegate of all.

Ha! Good one, Edward! Jeff, is this sort of thing that made you want to leave Canada?

Amid all the news of doom and gloom, here's one reason for optimism: America's best spellers appear to be getting better and better. According to the Washington Post, these are some of the words which clinched the National Spelling Bee over the years:

1925: gladiolus

1932: knack

1938: sanitarium

1940: therapy

1956: condominium

1960: eudaemonic

1973: vouchsafe

1980: elucubrate

1991: antipyretic

2001: succedaneum

2004: autochthonous

2006: Ursprache

2007: serrefine

2008: guerdon

"Knack," really? Maybe the "Greatest Generation" (whose members would have been right around 12 years old in 1932) weren't our greatest spellers ever. Or maybe, what with the Great Depression and all, they had other concerns on their mind. Regardless, it's pretty cool that American students (or at least .000001 percent of them) have gotten better at something.

It seems that students at top colleges can't soon shed the feelings of anxiety that accompanied their hypercompetitive high-school careers. Our intern Amy notifies me that the stress that bears down upon aspiring college-goers can manifest itself even more intensely after one matriculates at the university of his or her choice.

Take her high-school classmate, currently studying theater at NYU, who, determined to face his demons, wrote an off-Broadway musical about the dog-eat-dog world of AP testing:


More here.

Jeff Kuhner

In response to Mike's question: "Yes."

Brian Greene, a Columbia professor who wrote two top-selling popularizations of physics, pens a passionate call for American students to rekindle their love affair with science in Sunday's New York Times.

Update: Wow--it's currently the most emailed article on Must have hit a nerve.