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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Bit of Housekeeping

I've read the comments about the new look of the blog and I agree; the white is hard on the eyes.  So Charlie and I will be tinkering around a bit so don't be surprised if we come up with something else (Blogger does give us some choices).   We're also probably going to change the font to a serif one (as my book design past tells me it's easier to read). 

Also, about the charter schools series.  I probably didn't make this clear but I had hoped that the first threads in the series would be factual and (hopefully) mostly neutral.  It is no use to all of us to have a discussion without having a clear idea of what it is we are discussing.   I am, of course, open to discussion about whether I have my facts correct.  Keep in mind, though, I am speaking of charters OVERALL and not any one particular state or charter group. 

So that first thread on What They Are got a lot of comments and discussion going about whether charters are worth it which is great but kind of throws things off-track. 

I'll try to proceed on with Charters and Special Ed (as I have found this to be a whole sub-section).   This blog tries to be an open forum but I'm hoping we keep the fact threads and their comments on track and then have a no-holds barred discussion towards the end of the series.

My goal is to educate first and then those who feel they have learned enough to form an opinion, will then feel capable of adding to the discussion. 

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

RE the new look of the site:

I like the large font - keeps the eye squints to a minimum.

Could you reverse the "Preview" and "Post Comment" buttons so they read left to right in the order of the function (one previews first, then publishes).

Thanks.

-JC.

Catherine said...

Serif - easier in print. Sans-serif - easier online.

great discussion: http://alexpoole.info/which-are-more-legible-serif-or-sans-serif-typefaces and great references.

Anonymous said...

Melissa,
I really appreciate what you are trying to do with these discussions. Charter Schools have always been a confusing conversation for me, as I feel like I don't have the basic facts to take an informed place in the debates. I'm looking forward to the rest of this series and learning more!

-regular reader

Anonymous said...

When the day comes to discuss charters, I urge everyone to keep in mind that, like corporations, they are merely a model or vehicle for delivering or accomplishing the end results of what is fed into them and who manages them.

There is, again like with corporations, a separation of identities between the charter as an entity, and the people who control & run them.

There are good charters, and there are bad charters. Many good articles have been written by Danny Weil, who was once a huge charter supporter, but now dreads the Frankenstein monsters many of them have become. In a similar vein as Diane Ravitch's change of heart concerning NCLB, after a decade of two of charters, a few do good work, most do no better than conventional schools, and a huge percentage, between 40 and 50% of charters nationwide do worse, without any public accountability like we have with a democratically elected school board.

The question is, and must remain: Why?

Can we not accomplish what charters do with site-based management and/or alt schools, without giving the reins to a small group of people, akin to a corporate board?

We must also keep in mind the immense amount of propaganda pushing the wave behind charters over the last decade.

I have a lot of examples and anecdotes that fill me with reservations about charters. But if fully informed, "charter-educated" communities still say, after all is said and done, that they would like to experiment with a charter in their neighborhood, I'll respect it completely.

Beware the snake-oil salesmen and privatizers, using terms like "parents unions" for example. Ask where those terms originated, where they have been used, and what has resulted. You may not like what you hear.

WSDWG

Anonymous said...

And here's a post from last year that's as relevant today, as back then. FYI

Seek and you shall find, Dorothy. Better grab a barf bag. You're gonna need it.

Murdoch Buys Educational Technology Company

(and Hires away Joel Klein, soon-to-be former chancellor of NY City Schools.)

(The ARIS contracts -- worth tens of millions of dollars -- and the contracts the New York City Education Department has issued for its School of One program were apparently negotiated rather than competitively bid.)

After Klein's announcement, News Corp. officials told the New York Times that Klein would advise Murdoch on a number of initiatives, including "developing business strategies for the emerging educational marketplace."

Murdoch, chairman and chief operating officer of News Corp., has taken a keen interest in education reform lately, investing in Teach for America and some charter schools.

"When it comes to K through 12 education," Murdoch said in a statement about the Wireless Generation purchase, "we see a $500 billion sector in the U.S. alone that is waiting desperately to be transformed by big breakthroughs that extend the reach of great teaching."

But ultimately, the loyalty of for-profit companies is to the bottom line and investors, not necessarily to the general good of public schools and kids. And they get their return on investment with public money.

When business people decide to get into the education world in a big way, their support for specific reform measures has to be seen through the prism of money-making opportunities, not what research says works best for kids.

It's all about the kids. Right.


WSDWG

Maureen said...

Is it possible to change the color for links once you have clicked on them? The bright blue for 'fresh' links is good, but once you've followed them the text goes to a grey that I find almost indistinguishable from the other text. Maybe it could be purple? That would make it easier to scan through the posts to find the links again. Thanks!