News Roundup

From the New York Times:
  • an op-ed about asking students what THEY want in a high school.  The author, Susan Engel, followed a group of 8 high school students as they "designed and ran their own school within a school."  Interesting reading.  Here's a connecting lesson plan.  A couple of thoughtful parts:
An Independence Project student who had once considered dropping out of school found he couldn’t bear to stop focusing on his current history question but didn’t want to miss out on exploring a new one. When he asked the group if it would be O.K. to pursue both, another student answered, “Yeah, I think that’s what they call learning.” 

The students in the Independent Project are remarkable but not because they are exceptionally motivated or unusually talented. They are remarkable because they demonstrate the kinds of learning and personal growth that are possible when teenagers feel ownership of their high school experience, when they learn things that matter to them and when they learn together. In such a setting, school capitalizes on rather than thwarts the intensity and engagement that teenagers usually reserve for sports, protest or friendship. 

I'm wondering if this kind of learning mirrors what happens at Nova High School.
  • an article about the status of teachers in the United States.  It's talking about issues such as "recruiting more qualified candidates, training them better and paying them more."   Once again, the discussion is around how teachers in high-achieving countries like Singapore, Korea and Finland treat their teachers.   In South Korea, teachers are thought of as "nation builders."  There's a thought - education as building the foundation for everything that follows. 
I find this interesting because a scant few years ago, all Oprah had to do was say "teachers" and people were on their feet cheering.  Now we have governors raining down the bad news about public education and laying it all at the feet of teachers.  

What is also interesting here is that it isn't about how much we spend on education, it's what we spend it on.  The U.S. spends disproportionately on bus transportation and sports in schools.

From radio station KPLU:

A UW research study shows that girls start thinking math is a subject for boys as young as 7 or 8.   The study appears in the March/April issue of Child Development and involved 247 SPS elementary school students.   The crux of the study:

The UW researchers adapted the adult Implicit Association Test for children and used it to examine three concepts:
-          Gender identity, or the association of “me” with male or female.
-          Math-gender stereotype, or the association of math with male or female.
-          Math self-concept, or the association of “me” with math or reading.

From the San Francisco Chronicle, an op-ed by writer (and former teacher), Dave Eggers.  He also co-produced a documentary that is premiering May 3rd at the San Francisco Film Festival, "American Teacher."  (I'll have to see if that comes to the Seattle Film Festival in mid-May.)   The title of his op-ed is "Teacher Layoffs - a destructive annual event."  From his piece:

In the next 10 years, 1.8 million teachers will be eligible for retirement. Who will take their place? Who will accept conditions as they are? Teacher turnover is startling high, and its costs are unconscionable: Fully 46 percent of teachers leave the profession before their fifth year. Nationally, teacher turnover costs the United States $5 billion. And the costs to students attending urban schools, who most absorb the consequences of this chaos? Incalculable.

There is a ballot measure in San Francisco for new taxes to ensure teachers will keep their jobs.  I need to track that because boy, would that be a brave new sign.  

From the AP:

The state Board of Higher Education has approved a new four-year mathematics requirement for all students seeking admission to state colleges and universities in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts is a national leader in education and this shows they are serious.    
From the Huffington Post, a great story about a Chicago-area teacher who will keep his job despite years of teaching creationism in his public school biology class.  There's great footage at their School Board meeting for both sides.  What it seems to come down to is the superintendent's recommendation:  “The teacher in question is a long-standing D128 instructor. We will not be recommending his termination as this is remediable behavior.”
It would seem if he had been told not to do this for years and not changed his behavior that he could be exited. 
From the Broad Foundation, the announcement on the 10th anniversary of their Broad Prize for Urban Education, a new endowment of $40M for the award. 
This is exciting because according to the Broad stats (and Tom Payzant's recent article about the firing of Dr. Goodloe-Johnson), SPS has made great strides and better than many other urban districts.  There may be some money for us! 
Ahh, shucks, we're not even on the 75-city finalist list.  What gives?


another mom said…
Other news items, two Valerie Strauss (WAPO) blog posts : Ravitch: Actually, it’s an age of hypocrisy and meanness, and Darling-Hammond: U.S. vs highest-achieving nations in education. Both are worth reading.
Jet City mom said…
Yes I would agree that students have a vested interest in their own education & nowhere is that more apparent than by the time they are ready for high school.

When they are allowed to have input into what kind of school they attend, what sort of classes they take & who their instructor is, they will be much more engaged & successful than students who are shoved into boxes or for whom the "educational system" feels they need their studies " dumbed down" or pre-chewed.

The basic graduating requirements can be the same- but we should be looking at how we can insure a wider variety of courses & ways of showing knowledge can help them meet that goal.
Anonymous said…
UW math findings match up with previous research on girls and "math anxiety." From my former identity, at WBEZ in Chicago:

Female teachers seem to pass on anxiety about math to their girl students. Chicago researchers spell out the link in a journal article published today.

The study looked at 17 first- and second-grade teachers – all women. Researchers measured how much anxiety the teachers had about math. Then they tested math achievement for their students. At the beginning of the year, there was no correlation between the students' math skills and their teachers' math anxiety. But University of Chicago psychology professor Sian Beilock says by year's end, something happened.

BEILOCK: The higher a teacher's math anxiety, the more likely the girls in her classroom, were to be performing worse at math.

The correlation did not hold for male students – only the girls. Beilock says female students of the anxious teachers were also more likely to believe the stereotype that boys are good at math and girls are good at reading. The findings are out in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Gabriel Spitzer

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