The dirty dark secret of NCLB is that we may know how to identify the worst performing schools, but no one (yet) knows how to turn them around in any consistent and reliable way. And I mean no one. Not the Gates Foundation to date. Not most charter programs. No one.
That’s from a review of Diane Ravitch’s new book renouncing No Child Left Behind and most of the data-driven approaches that created it. It’s that “consistent and reliable way” that gets me. After all the money flung at the problem where are we? And if all we got from NCLB was a way to identify the worst-performing schools – I’ll bet that a candid interview with the central staff of each school district in America could have done that in a year for a lot less – we’ve always known which were the worst schools in any system. I taught high school Latin part-time in two radically different districts in Georgia – Atlanta City and Cobb County – and there was certainly a clear idea of which middle schools that fed us were the worst.
Joanne Jacobs round up some reactions to the proposed national standards.
In a savage attack, Andrew Grant, chairman of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC), compared the Government’s crackdown on independent schools’ charitable status to Henry VIII’s seizure of land and property in the 1500s.
. . .
He compared the move to Henry VIII’s decision in the 1530s to shut down English monasteries and nunneries, confiscating all land and property for the crown. It was sold to pay for Government expenditure.
Addressing headmasters on Monday, Mr Grant said: “Let’s be clear: the threat that currently underlies the Charity Commission’s guidance is the well-tried mediaeval one of confiscation of land and property and it looks no less crude and ugly under the rose of Labour than it did under the rose of Tudor. Down in St Albans, we’ve been there before, of course, in 1539, when the monastery was dissolved.”
By any stretch of the historiographical imagination, of course, Henry VIII is Renaissance or Early Modern. Keep your objurgations more current, Mr. Grant!
Then there’s this interesting bit of academic class warfare:
The comments came as the University and College Union, which represents lecturers, said private schools’ charitable status should be abolished. It claimed the £100m a year saving could pay for 20,000 extra university places.
Lost in all the denouncing and investigating was the fact that Bush’s speech itself, like Obama’s today, was entirely unremarkable. “Block out the kids who think it’s not cool to be smart,” the president told students. “If someone goofs off today, are they cool? Are they still cool years from now, when they’re stuck in a dead end job. Don’t let peer pressure stand between you and your dreams.
No one’s interested in education – just in scoring points.
American college freshmen know fewer facts about science than do their Chinese counterparts, according to a new study, but both groups have a comparably poor ability to reason scientifically.
In other words, the Americans tested were bone ignorant and the Chinese at least knew some facts. A lot of facts, if you trust the test scores. I think I’d rather teach a class of freshmen to reason who knew things than to teach a class who knew nothing both facts and how to reason – but maybe that’s just me. Now this sounds likely:
Lei Bao, the study’s lead author and director of Ohio State University’s Physics Education Research Group, said this runs contrary to the commonly held belief that reasoning skills develop as students are “rigorously taught the facts.”
O.K. – reasoning skills do not come automatically with learning facts. But unless you can show that teaching the Chinese students lots of facts made it harder to later teach them scientific reasoning I’m not sure this study proves that Chinese secondary science education is anything like as bad as that in America, which that first paragraph suggests. Go look at the comparative scores!
The Chicago Public Schools, bailiwick of the man soon to be Secretary of Education*, spent $67,000 on Cappuccino machines. Perhaps they were bought to stock kitchens in vocational schools, training future baristas (as we all know there are never trainees at Starbucks, after all).
Well, no. Go read it all at Joanne Jacobs.
*No, it’s not his direct fault, but he’s certainly fair game for mockery.
Los Angeles Unified’s new arts school will have a very expensive “world-class” building — but the school won’t enroll the most talented students, reports the LA Times. In fact, students with artistic, musical and dramatic talent will be urged to go elsewhere.
The plastic pumpkin shells we supplied were tossed aside in favor of pillow cases, which were then tossed aside in favor of barrel-sized black drawstring Glad bags. The kids returned, eyes glowing neon with avarice. “Look at how much I got!” was answered by, “Pssh. Wimp. Look at how much I got!” which invariably garnered the whining response, “Hey, they got more than me!” which brought me into the conversation. “I. More than I.”
That’s when the orange lightbulb came on. We could reclaim the Catholicity of Halloween AND AT THE SAME TIME wage a holy war against avarice.
I went to the basement and got an industrial-sized Rubbermaid storage bin, then placed it on the table. Surrounded by eight variously-towering mountains of candy.
“Put it all in.”
The silence was more intense than anything our family had achieved in church.
“Like this — ” I grabbed two fistfuls from random piles. “Put all the candy in the bin. All of it.”
1. Please tell Juan to recycle the plastic.
2. Henry’s mother is going to the political rally.
3. The labor union was organized and everyone was happy.
4. By travelling to South America, Robert broadened his perspective.
5. Let’s foment a violent revolution against the capitalist oppressors.
1. The centurion bravely slaughtered the barbarian.
2. The batallion invested the hill fort by digging a trench around it and flinging stones upon the Gauls with their catapaults.
3. The doughty lad caught the wild horse and tamed it.
4. Having burnt the Carthagian ship with Greek Fire, the trireme captured the survivors and enslaved them.
5. The soldier was at peace because he knew his duty.
In another blow to the language of love, the Rwandan government has decided to change instruction in schools from French to English.
All government employees are now required to learn English, and everyone here from lawmakers to taxi drivers to students to businesspeople seems to believe that the usefulness of French, introduced by Belgian colonizers, is coming to an end.
“When you look at the French-speaking countries — it’s really just France, and a small part of Belgium and a small part of Switzerland,” Theoneste Mutsindashyaka, Rwanda’s state minister for education, said in English. “Most countries worldwide, they speak English. Even in China, they speak English. Even Belgium, if you go to the Flemish areas, they speak English, not French.”
. . .
As a minor bonus, Mutsindashyaka — who is in charge of rolling out the English-language curriculum for 2.6 million students and 50,000 teachers — said he was happily surprised to find that English textbooks are far cheaper than French ones. A fourth-grade English math book costs 70 cents, for instance, compared with $4 for the French version.
Economies of scale, I guess. Further: I thought I’d google around on the issue and found this blog: The Worldwide Decline of French, whose tagline describes it thus: “This is the only web log to specialize in the declining use of the French language, both globally and within France itself. We use recent and less recent web articles, blog entries and books written in French, English, German and other languages to document the failure of costly Francophonie policies in- and outside France.”
Here’s the Unfrench Frenchman on Rwanda.
So it is with huge grief-filled disappointment that I discovered that the Obamas send their children to the University of Chicago Laboratory School (by 5th grade, tuition equals $20,286 a year). The school’s Web site quotes all that ridiculous John Dewey nonsense about developing character while, of course, isolating your children from the poor. A pox on them and, while we’re at it, a pox on John Dewey! I’m sick to death of those inspirational Dewey quotes littering the Web sites of $20,000-plus-a-year private schools, all those gentle duo-tone-photographed murmurings about “building critical thinking and fostering democratic citizenship” in their cherished students, living large on their $20,000-a-year island.
The Methodist Church chimes just rang six o’clock – and then played the bit of Brahms’ First Symphony which some of my readers know by heart as the Bright School Song. There – bet you’re humming already, Shelton! Follow the link and you can download the music for Country Gardens, too!