U.S civics education is lacking...but at least we're not France

France's president plans to ban homework, citing the disadvantage it poses for students without a supportive home environment to aid their after-school studies. While the move would give us one less country to worry about come the next PISA administration, discouraging kids from learning outside of school for reasons of equity is perhaps the most absurd example of Achievement-Gap Mania yet.

Amidst the turmoil of Chicago Public Schools's CEO Jean-Claude Brizard's sudden resignation last week, Windy City Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced plans to make arts a "core subject." Although the news may be crowded out by the leadership changes, Chicago deserves credit for making sure the arts aren't crowded out of the curriculum.

Speaking of curriculum narrowing, civics education is wanting, according to a new report from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. Almost a dozen states don't require any civics or American-government education, and states are increasingly cutting the essay portions of the civics state tests that do exist, a trend that Americans should address this election year before civic literacy declines any further.

Education-reform groups are split over California’s Proposition 32, a “paycheck protection” measure that would keep unions from automatically deducting funds from employees’ paychecks for political purposes. Their opponents, however, are not divided, and if the practice is allowed to continue in the Golden State it will come directly at the expense of education reforms.

Many states are using NCLB waivers to set new proficiency goals for students—often different goals for students in different racial and ethnic subgroups. The fierce criticism from equity advocates over this move is a distracting exercise in idealism. As a certain incumbent said last month when asked about shifting from goals of universal proficiency to goals that differ between racial groups, "you've gotta continue to keep those high standards. But we are going to measure growth."

Quite a two-week stretch for education economists: Hard on the heels of Raj Chetty’s MacArthur award, Stanford’s Al Roth snagged a Nobel prize in economics. Don’t miss Alexander Russo’s roundup of Roth’s edu-research and commentary.

New York City’s Department of Education announced plans to petition the state for the right to certify new teachers trained by veteran Gotham educators in hard-to-fill subjects. Given the generally sorry (or at least intransigent) state of university teacher-prep programs, this is a move all urban districts (and CMOs) should emulate.

Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison and Barbara Mikulski teamed up to take a none-to-subtle shot at the ACLU in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, defending the merits of single-sex education against the ongoing attacks of educational-equality groups looking to stamp the model out. Here’s to an excellent example of sound bipartisan thinking on this issue.

The Washington Post previewed Mike's new book this week. Keep an eye on Flypaper for more on how parents should navigate the "Diverse Schools Dilemma."

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