Ed. Note: The email version of this edition of the Gadfly Weekly failed to identify sections of this week's editorials by Chester E. Finn, Jr. and Peter Meyer as quotations from other authors. We have great respect for the work of the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Mark Bauerlein, and would never want to imply that it was our own. We apologize for the mistake.
Pundits and politicians have cited the loss of manufacturing jobs as a sign of American economic decline for decades now, but a recent Washington Post article suggests that the problem is an under-skilled workforce, not a lack of opportunity. With that in mind, Checker and Peter square off this week to debate whether a renewed and revised focus on vocational education is the key to the U.S.'s economic future.
21st-century VocEd could be key to future economic prosperity
By Chester E. Finn, Jr.
I’m a huge fan of high-quality liberal-arts education for everybody and really do think it would go far to prepare better citizens, neighbors, and consumer/transmitters of America’s cultural heritage and democratic underpinnings. I’m also an acolyte...
Embracing the Common Core - Michael Cohen Presentation
February 16, 2012
Mike Cohen, president of Achieve, speaks at Embracing the Common Core: Helping Students Thrive to the specifics of PARCC (the assessment consortia Ohio joined last fall) and warned that the implementation of the new standards in ELA and math will not be easy and that districts should start the implementation process now.
Embracing the Common Core - Stan Heffner Presentation
February 16, 2012
Among the speakers at Embracing the Common Core on February 15, 2012, was State Superintendent Stan Heffner who stressed that the system Ohio currently has is letting kids down and not preparing them for the future. He went on to emphasize that the Common Core gives us the opportunity and chance to do better for our kids and we must capitalize on that.
Mike sat down with Fordham’s new school choice czar, Adam Emerson, to question just how flexible ESEA flexibility turned out to be and to ponder Obama’s abandonment of the D.C. voucher program. Amber looks at a new study on how much value principals add while Chris learns that they sometimes need to bob and weave when handing out teacher evaluations.
I’ve posted before about the unusual interpretations and suggestions for implementing the Common Core standards that are popping up across the country. Earlier this week, more evidence emerged that when it comes to organizations peddling Common Core implementation resources and strategies, the buyer should beware.
When it comes to organizations peddling Common Core implementation resources and strategies, the buyer should beware.
Eye on Education, a publishing company that provides “busy educators with practical information” on a host of topics (professional development, school improvement, student assessment, data analysis, and on), released a report this week authored by Lauren Davis that highlights “5 Things Every Teacher Should be Doing to Meet the Common Core State Standards”:
Lead High-Level, Text-Based Discussions
Focus on Process, Not Just Content
Create Assignments for Real Audiences and with Real Purpose
Teach Argument, Not Persuasion
Increase Text Complexity
At first glance, this appears to be pointed in the right direction. After all, nearly every point includes quotes from the standards themselves or from the publisher’s criteria released by David Coleman and Sue Pimentel.
While waiting for the ESEA waiver announcement, Mike and Janie get to look at the week’s more entertaining edu-news, from trials for tardiness to a pot problem in the Rockies. Amber talks pensions and Chris wonders if “walking it off” isn’t always the best idea.
What's holding back America's science performance?
February 07, 2012
While business leaders rue the lack of American workers skilled enough in math and science to meet the needs of an increasingly high-tech economy, the situation may be growing even grimmer. The latest installment of TIMSS showed stagnation in U.S. science achievement, and the 2009 NAEP science assessment found that only 21 percent of American twelfth-graders met the proficiency bar. Yet while the gravity of the problem is clear, the root cause is not. Is our science curriculum lacking? Is it being squeezed out by an emphasis on math and reading? Is there a problem with our pedagogy? Are our teachers ill-prepared? Or are we simply expecting too little of teachers and students alike?
Coinciding with its new review of state science standards, The Thomas B. Fordham Institute will bring together experts with very different perspectives to engage this crucial question: "What's holding back America's science performance?"
Watch the discussion with UVA psychologist Dan Willingham, NCTQ President Kate Walsh, Fordham's Kathleen Porter-Magee, Project Lead the Way's Anne Jones, and Achieve, Inc.'s Stephen Pruitt and join the conversation on Fordham LIVE!
Last week, I wrote a post about how reading instruction would change when aligned to the Common Core. Specifically, I outlined the vision of “close reading” that has been promoted by David Coleman and Sue Pimentel, the two chief architects of the CCSS ELA standards, which puts the focus on reading and re-reading grade-appropriate texts and using effective, text-dependent questions to guide lessons and class discussions.
The vision is compelling—I believe in the power of close reading and I also agree with Coleman’s point (made clearer in his comment on the post I wrote) that reading strategies are important only inasmuch as they are used to support comprehension of difficult texts. (They are not, in other words, an end in themselves.)
Its hard not to be biased in favor of one’s own interpretations of a text when it repeated back to you.
That said, there is one part of Coleman’s vision—specifically, his rejection of using “pre-reading” strategies to help prepare and provide context to students before they dive in to a complex text—that is likely to send shock waves into reading classrooms around the country,...
Mike and Rick channel the shock jock king as they discuss the
implications of Fordham’s science standards report (which made an
appearance on the Stern show) and the latest NCLB waiver craziness.
Amber looks at the recent MDRC study and Chris learns never to call a
Catherine Gewertz at Curriculum Matters penned a post describing a meeting of chief academic officers from 14 urban school districts who came together to discuss how to help teachers implement the Common Core. According to Gewertz, the CAOs spent “hours exploring one facet of the common standards: its requirement that students—and teachers—engage in ‘close reading’ of text.”
It is exactly this “close reading” that Common Core supporters hope will usher in a new era of reading instruction—one where teachers select grade-appropriate texts for all students; where they have students read and reread those texts—perhaps more times than even makes sense or feels comfortable—to support deep comprehension and analysis; and where they push students to engage in the text itself—in the author’s words, not in how those words make us feel.
Common Core challenges us to help students (and teachers) understand that reading is not about them.
The reality is that the Common Core challenges us to help students (and teachers) understand that reading is not about them. Of course, what students read will often touch them, sometimes even change them. But that will happen only if, while they’re reading, they deeply understand and absorb the words and images in...