"Pupils 'distressed over spelling'"

Whitminster Endowed Church of England Primary, near Stroud, no longer gives children spelling lists for homework.

Parents found out about the plan in a letter, saying many pupils found the activity "unnecessarily distressing".

To:?????????????????????? Andrew Rotherham, Jonathan Schnur, Michael Johnston,

???????????????????????????????? Robert Gordon

From:?????????????? Mike Petrilli

Re:????????????????????????David Axelrod's statements about Reading First

Good morning, gentlemen. As key advisors to Senator Barack Obama, as well as bona fide education reformers, I urge you to correct the statements made by campaign manager David Axelrod on Sunday's Meet the Press, which were highlighted in yesterday's Education Daily.

Although David Axelrod, an advisor for Democratic presidential candidate Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, did not specifically name the Reading First program when asked Sunday on Meet the Press about programs Obama would cut in light of the economic crisis, [Richard Long of the International Reading Association] said Axelrod alluded to it.

"We're going to have to look at the budget, and Sen. Obama said he's going to go through it line by line, and he's going to get rid of things that don't work," Axelrod said on the TV show. "We have, for example, a reading program that was installed by the Bush administration that turned out to be a big boondoggle. It's not helping any kids learn. We ought to say, ???That doesn't work, let's get rid of it.'"

While taking a ...

Whew, it's quite an issue this week, folks. Announcing the release of our Red Tape Report pilot study on--you guessed it--red tape, Amber explains??the study's framework and invites your feedback (email all comments to [email protected]). Then Stafford investigates the GPA and some worrisome recent conversations on its calculation; perchance it's time for a standard GPA metric? What would such a metric look like? These questions and more... Further in, ??you'll find Massachusetts ratcheting up its graduation standards and a look at the much hallowed, but perhaps biased, NACAC study on standardized tests for college admission. Add to all this a rather stupendous podcast, and the flatscreen TVs (and on-site dry cleaning) of the LAUSD headquarters, and you may have your socks blown right off! It's all??here....

It is only once in a rare blue moon that we get news like this. The irony is almost palpable. Detractors jump up and down with glee. Latent metaphors abound. It's simply... beautiful.

What has me roaring with laughter before lunch?

The funders of Ed in '08, also known as Strong American Schools, are cuttin' the dough. Oh yes, that's right, the Gates and Broad Foundations have decided Ed in '08 is kaput!

But with Nov. 4 looming, education appears to have relatively low visibility. And the Gates and Broad family foundations have stopped contributing to the [Ed in ???08] campaign after putting in a total of about $24 million.

I hate to say "we told you so," (actually, I have no problem saying this at all) but really, we did. And if killing the initiative wasn't enough, the excuses are PRICELESS.

"If we spend less than the maximum, it is because it is a reflection of the strategies we are executing," said Marie Groark, senior program officer with the Gates Foundation. She acknowledged that it's a tough environment for the issue to gain traction. "We are aware that there are significant competing priorities on


Economist Roland Fryer's Educational Innovation Laboratory is off to the races, thanks to the Broad Foundation, experimenting with new ways of incentivizing kids to learn in three big cities (New York , Chicago, Washington ). In D.C., the plan involves paying students in fifteen middle schools up to $1500 a year if they (a) attend, (b) behave and (c) get good grades.

I'm a longtime believer in giving young people real-world incentives to study hard and do well in school, though I've long supposed that means doing a better job of hinging promotion, graduation, college admission and jobs on school success. I don't have any big problem with more immediate and kid-like rewards, either, such as taking students with perfect attendance records to a theme park at the end of the year or giving pizzas to those who read more books .

Paying them cold cash to do the right thing gives me pause, however. It's fundamentally??amoral. It creates??weird and perverse incentives for pupils and teachers alike. It could get very expensive, using serious money that might otherwise go into better teachers, better textbooks, longer times, more instructional technology, etc. (Chicago has about 125,000 students...

Check it out.

*??And maybe even a religion.

Last night: "Science should be taught in science class."--Sarah Palin

August 2005: "Science class is for science"--The Education Gadfly

Now that the financial markets have steadied themselves a bit, and Congressional leaders have started putting Humpty-Dumpty together again, it's easier to look at the demise of the bailout bill on Monday with cool detachment. And what's clear is that three factions were responsible for the bill's defeat: liberals, conservatives, and members from swing districts, particularly freshmen. What's interesting to me is that these were the same factions that rebelled against Chairman George Miller's No Child Left Behind reauthorization bill last year--and that would likely kill a similar bill today if it were brought to the floor.

Seven years ago, when the original NCLB made its way through Congress, it benefited from strong presidential leadership (in the wake of 9/11), plus liberal and conservative bases mostly willing to go along with their party bosses. Obviously those dynamics have changed.

As I write, leaders in Congress are working to tweak the bailout plan to get a few more votes on either side of the aisle so the bill can make it out of the House. Likewise, what would it take for an NCLB reauthorization bill to succeed? It seems to me that there are two choices for Democratic leaders,...

Cram schools seem to be popping up everywhere. Korea has them as does Flushing, Queens. The newest market? India. But where Korean schools are a post graduate addendum to improve university entrance exam scores, Indian cram schools are a high school addition. The goal is admission to one of the highly selective Indian Institutes of Technology and the cram schools only teach what will be on the test: math, physics and chemistry.??Traditional Indian public schools are complaining that the best and brightest are leaving their ranks for these schools (uh, hello? maybe these students are leaving for a reason?). On top of it all, these students still have to graduate from high school--while attending cram school at the same time, it seems.??

Local schools [in Kota, the cram capital] also have benefited: Cram students have to attend regular classes so they can pass their high-school exams and graduate. Some high schools have early morning classes so cram students can finish early and move on to cramming.??

Kota is in the throes of natural urban renewal as a result of the cram schools' popularity. The hoards of students need places to live, supplies and meals to keep...