Sunday, November 30, 2008
But hey, I still had some fun. I got to spend some quality time with some future relatives, I played Nintendo Wii, I ate a bunch of food, and I started a new book: Democracy and Education by John Dewey. It is an incredibly slow read, but from what I can tell so far, the book makes some excellent points. Assuming I finish it, I do promise to write more about it in the future.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
• Marshall Plan: Cost: $12.7 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $115.3 billion
• Louisiana Purchase: Cost: $15 million, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $217 billion
• Race to the Moon: Cost: $36.4 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $237 billion
• S&L Crisis: Cost: $153 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $256 billion
• Korean War: Cost: $54 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $454 billion
• The New Deal: Cost: $32 billion (Est), Inflation Adjusted Cost: $500 billion (Est)
• Invasion of Iraq: Cost: $551b, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $597 billion
• Vietnam War: Cost: $111 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $698 billion
• NASA: Cost: $416.7 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $851.2 billion
I am no opponent of big government, but really, fiscal conservatism has to play a role at some point.
Monday, November 24, 2008
"For the fifth straight year, Jordan McCabe will return home for the holidays and spend the night before Thanksgiving running into every smug and unlikable asshole he ever went to high school with, the 26-year-old reported Monday."
I am sure I will be feeling Jordan's pain at some point during the next month and a half.
Yep, it has come to this. This is apparently an all too common problem in Chicago Public Schools. An interesting and unfortunate statistic noted in the report: of the 50,000 special needs students in Chicago, only about 9,000 are eligible for bus services. The piece does remind parents of special needs students to have transportation services detailed in their child's IEP. Also, the article features Special Education lawyer, and one of my favorite education bloggers, Charles Fox.
On the one hand, it would be nice to see a major political figure send their children to a public school, or at least a charter school. On the other hand, it is unfair that such a decision is so open to public scrutiny, and we must all understand that the Obamas have to do what is in the best interest of their daughters. Besides, it is not like the DC public schools offers the greatest education environment.
- About a handful of movie reviews.
- More discussion on the next potential Education Secretary (assuming they aren't picked this week).
- Updating the "At-Risk" Watch.
- Whatever else pops up in education news.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
In the movie, Master Shifu (voiced by Dustin Hoffmann) has to train Po the Panda (voiced by Jack Black) how to be the next Dragon Warrior, the one that must protect their village from the wrath of Tai Lung (a white tiger voiced by Ian McShane). The problem is that Shifu does not believe Po is supposed to be the Dragon Warrior because he sees him is big, fat joke, and his selection as the Dragon Warrior was an accident. But as the movie progresses, he begins to realize that, while Po cannot be trained the way other Kung Fu warriors are trained, he can be trained. The way to do that is with food. Po, who wants nothing more in the world than to be a Kung Fu artist, is also an overeater. Shifu sees this, and alters his teaching methods a little to help Po train in the arts of Kung Fu.
As dorky as this sounds, teachers everywhere can learn from Master Shif. Look at a student's strengths, and interests, in order to better teach them content (although food may not be the best way to go about doing this, given the raising numbers in childhood obesity).
Sunday, November 16, 2008
"The NY City Department of Education under Joel Klein has been run like a ruthless dictatorship – with no input from parents or educators"
Friday, November 14, 2008
"Formerly a popular South Carolina governor — in fact, he was so popular that the state's citizens amended the constitution to allow him to run for a second term — Riley was tapped by President Bill Clinton in December 1992. Among his accomplishments, Riley spearheaded initiatives to improve academic standards, made education more accessible for lower-income families and expanded college grants and loan programs. "
Then Monday, Alexander Russo (my favorite education blogger), posted about Linda Darling-Hammond as a potential appointment to Education Secretary by Obama. Russo's post is as much about Obama as it is about Darling-Hammond. But he warns that if Darling-Hammond is Obama's nominee, there could be a backlash against her by those in the education community who believe in major reforms in education. The reason for such a backlash? She was one of the earliest critics of Teach For America:
"The possibility of Darling-Hammond being named Secretary has emerged as an especially worrisome possibility among a small but vocal group of younger, reform-minded advocates who supported Obama because he seemed reform-minded on education issues like charter schools, performance pay, and accountability. These reformistas seem to perceive Darling-Hammond as a touchy-feely anti-accountability figure who will destroy any chances that Obama will follow through on any of these initiatives."
Russo goes onto explain:
"Yes, Darling-Hammond is an ed school professor who talks in nuanced, academic terms--not scripted talking points (see her debate here). Yes, she was among the first and most prominent critics of Teach For America--and still favors a more intensive, residency-based approach to training new teachers.
But she also has authored a recent study that acknowledged T.F.A. teachers were in some ways better than traditional teachers. And she has helped start several charter schools in California. Darling-Hammond says there's no real daylight between her positions and Obama's policy proposals, and I haven't seen any convincing evidence to contradict that claim.
So what's going on then? Part of it is just a knee-jerk response against someone who dared criticize T.F.A., the reformistas' most cherished accomplishment to date. Another part of it may be the desire for a younger, fresher name picked from their own ranks--D.C. superintendent Michelle Rhee, or New Leaders founder Jon Schnur."
I have been trying to figure out the genesis of this movement among different education wonks that alternative programs are better than traditional teaching colleges. I know I am a somewhat of a novice when it comes to education policy, so will someone please explain this to me? Have I waisted the past 2 1/2 years in my college program? Would I have been better off to have gone into Teach For America? Somehow, I don't think so.
Reading about this continuing debate reminded me of an editorial I read a couple of years ago when I first started attending my program, and I wanted to learn more about education policy. It is a column from George Will entitled "Ed Schools vs Education" (my apologies for this being in Word Format. It was the only way I could look it up on the internet as it is no longer easily accessible from the Newsweek archives). He begins the article with the following:
"The surest, quickest way to add quality to primary and secondary education would be addition by subtraction: Close all the schools of education."
Will believed this was because education schools are only focused on espousing progressive political beliefs, not teaching teachers how to teach. He does a good job at pointing out SOME extreme examples of teacher colleges where such activities take place. But he seems to have no problem branding ALL teacher's colleges as following this phenomena. While I can only really talk about my program, I think he is generalizing, to say the least.
By what Mr. Will and these "reformistas" appear to say, you would think that teachers all across the country are being taught to have the students sit in circles, give each other hugs, sing "Kum Bi Ya", and finger paint. True, things such as trying to promote change and fairness are themes that I have learned about in some of my classes (as if those are evil things to promote). But by and large, the overwhelming majority of what is taught in my classes are highly technical skills and techniques that are needed to teach in a variety of areas in the pubic schools (contrary to what some think, these do include the importance of discipline and accountability). We are taught how to be professional teachers, and we take it seriously. If you disagree, please speak up. I am ready to win that debate.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
- He opposes Governor Blunt's decision to take money away from MOHELA, one of many decisions I did not like from Blunt.
I like the Missouri Promise proposal, but I wish he had more to offer in terms of education policy proposals. After all, what happens at the state level in education is just as important, if not more so, than what happens at the federal level.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
"Obese children as young as 10 had the arteries of 45-year-olds and other heart abnormalities that greatly raise their risk of heart disease, say doctors who used ultrasound tests to take a peek inside."
Will he be the next Joel Klein or Michelle Rhee? That is definitely possible.
"Adams said he would not rule out St. Louis following the lead of New York City and New Orleans by perhaps integrating a charter school into a building where traditional public education is taking place."
Consider the status of New Orleans Public Schools as of June 2008:
"Three in every 10 D.C. public school students are in charters, a much larger percentage than in most cities. The New Orleans charter school penetration rate is much greater: 53 percent of the post-Katrina enrollment of 33,200 students, according to school officials. Before the hurricane, charters had about 2 percent of the city's 67,000 public students."
Is it possible that he will be considered a failure and be replaced? Absolutely, since St. Louis has had eight different superintendents since 2003.
Is it possible that he will make St. Louis schools succeed and thrive? The odds are against him, but let's hope so.
Picture is from PubDef.net
Monday, November 10, 2008
Watch CBS Videos Online
This is amazing. There is still along way to go in terms of response time and availability with this technology, but think of the possibilities for disabled individuals, including students with severe or multiple disabilities. I got this from the blog Teaching Learners with Multiple Special Needs.
NOTE: These are only movies that I have seen, so if I have omitted one that you feel deserves to be on there, it may be because I have never seen it (hey, I can't see every movie, I do have a life).
9. Wag The Dog
8. The American President
7. The Candidate
5. Path To War
3. Primary Colors
2. The Manchurian Candidate
1. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
If you disagree with the list let me know. Like I said, I may not have seen a movie you think deserves to be on the list.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
"It’s not that [teacher] training doesn’t matter, but training on the job does seem to make a lot more sense than the traditional education school approach."
I guess I don't know how a lot of states do it, but is the author saying that traditional teaching programs don't bother with actual classroom time? Is it generally an either/or, meaning either go through a training program period, or skip training and go right into the classroom? Why not a combination of both? That is what I am currently doing (it is required in the state of Missouri). The past couple of years, I have been doing nothing but taking education classes, and in a couple of months, I am about to start working directly inside an actual classroom (student teaching/field experience).
Unless he is saying that "traditional teacher programs" do require classroom experience, but that isn't working either. If that is the case, than this really scares me:
"In general the evidence from methodologically solid studies is not encouraging in terms of the value of traditionally prepared teachers being more effective relative to those coming through other routes."
So, if what I am in is a "traditional" teacher training, am I essentially waisting my time? Is my program doing me very little good other than helping me get certification? I have to say that my training so far has given me a lot more confidence in my ability to enter a classroom and teach (certainly more confidence than before I started in my program).
I understand the current trend of looking for new and radical ways of doing things in education, and I am certainly not against that (we do need a major paradigm shift in education). But I also worry that more traditional methods might be labeled as obsolete, and thrown away. Certainly, traditional teaching programs (like, I suppose, the one I am in) still holds some merit and credibility. Perhaps I am just hoping that my current program is actually going to help me be a better teacher.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
I will throw out my own three names: Linda Darling-Hammond, Michael Johnston, and Christopher Edley. All three were education advisers to Obama during the primaries. Whenever one looks at potential appointments to anything, always check out the advisers.
Friday, November 7, 2008
For my first movie review, I will be discussing a romantic comedy that was recently put out in the theaters. I hope my review is done with the amount of class and sophistication that a film of this caliber deserves. I am reviewing . . .
"[Academy President David C. Banks] said Mr. Obama’s victory offered minority children a new sense of possibility.
'It raises a level of hope for young men of color who I think have been besieged by a culture of low expectations,' he said in an interview. 'Part of our model at One Hundred Black Men is ‘Boys will be what they see,’ and it’s hard for kids to dream about things they’ve never seen.'"
"As the results of the election sank in Wednesday, teachers in high school classrooms across the USA found themselves debriefing a group of young people who are, by all accounts, more informed and civic-minded than any in recent memory. They came of age after 9/11, after all."
I understand the temptation to question the intelligence of youth, as so many have done throughout history. But this article gives me hope, and reassures my skepticism of "the dumbest generation". Another part of the article I like follows the quote above:
"But they're also less obsessed with race than their parents and more cynical about the world and the ability of government to change it for the better."
The matter of their color-blindness is a positive, but also not that surprising. As far as being more cynical goes, this might actually be a positive. Being a civic-minded generation is good, but doesn't necessarily translate into civic-action. Cynicism, by-itself, isn't good because it might only lead to apathy. But civic-mindedness AND cynicism together can (and I believe will) translate into a passion to try to change things in our government, and the world, "for the better". Perhaps this is what we saw with this past election. Here is another part of the article that helps explain the high voter turnout among youth, which voted overwhelmingly for Obama:
"For much of the past 20 years, school districts nationwide have pushed parents to hold off registering their children for kindergarten until they're 6 years old. In many cases, schools even prohibit parents from enrolling 5-year-olds if their birthday falls late in the year.
As a result, perhaps as many as half of the nation's 3.2 million high school seniors on Nov. 4 were eligible to vote, making discussions in high school classes more urgent."
Think twice before branding out nation's youth as stupid or ignorant about what is going on in the world. It seems they have already started to make their mark.
- repeal the current individual maximum loss limit for gambling;
- prohibit any future loss limits;
- require identification to enter the gambling area only if necessary to establish that an individual is at least 21 years old;
- restrict the number of casinos to those already built or being built;
- increase the casino gambling tax from 20% to 21%;
- create a new specific education fund from gambling tax proceeds generated as a result of this measure called the "Schools First Elementary and Secondary Education Improvement Fund";
- and require annual audits of this fund?
In the end, I left the Prop A part of my ballot blank because I believe that when someone truly cannot make up their mind about something in an election (as I couldn't here), their is no point in forcing yourself to take a side. I apologize to anyone who is offended by my indecisiveness. Now I kind of know what it is like to be one of those undecided voters you see on cable news panels that seem so damn clueless. I would like to think of myself as more informed than then though.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
ABC and Politico has speculated three other potential names: University of Oklahoma President and former Senator David Boren, Former New Jersey Governor Tom Kean (R-NJ), and Rep. George Miller (D-CA).
My favorite suggestion so far has been . . . William Ayers. HA! That comes from conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly. She wrote that before the election, so I wonder whether or not she actually believes that or if she was trying to put more fear into the conservative base. Perhaps a little of both.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Well, to say that I am feeling ecstatic is an understatement. Truth be told, I am probably more proud than I have ever been to be an American today.
History has been made on a number of fronts. First, of course, is the fact that he have elected an African-American to the White House. It isn't just a major racial barrier that has been torn down, but it is a sign of hope to young children from culturally diverse backgrounds all over America that they can become anything they want to. Second, it is a sign that our reputation and popularity around the world will be restored to what it was before the Bush administration. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, it is a bold move away from the past eight years and a sign that, yes, we are ready for change. I realize that what I am about to say is contradictory to my agnostic beliefs but:
God Bless America!
Now, as Jed Bartlett would say, "What's Next?"
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
As encouraging as the polls are, don't let that stop you from voting. Don't for a second think "Obama is going to win anyways, so why bother?" That kind of thinking isn't just lazy, it's also dangerous. Don't get complacent, this country needs YOU to go out and VOTE! It is your civic duty, and perhaps the most important right you have as an American. This country cannot afford 4 more years of Republican control because people got too comfortable. Change is needed, but it will not happen unless you stand up and do what is necessary.
GO BARACK THE VOTE!!!
I have just finished voting with my fiance today, and now I am encouraging everyone who is eligable, and who hasn't voted yet, to go out and vote. It doesn't matter how long the lines are, what your schedule looks like, or whatever lame excuse you may have. Unless it is a life and death emergency, and you are eligable, there is no reason you shouldn't go out and vote. People have died for this right. It is perhaps the most important right we as Americans have. Polling hours across the country can be found here. If you have problems at your voting stations, contact either your local or state election officials, or go to the media and expose these problems. And remember, when you step in the booth, think long and hard about what YOU want. It is YOUR choice, and YOUR right as an America.
NOW GO AND VOTE!
Monday, November 3, 2008
Basically, there isn't that much different between the candidates on education, but Obama is slightly better on the issues. Both believe in charter schools, but McCain falls more in line with the school choice crowd. Both believe in merit pay, but Obama believes more in professional development. Both like No Child Left Behind and believe greater measurement of progress, but Obama actually wants to put more funding into implementation. Beyond that, they are mostly the same on education. The only issue that there seems to be a real difference on is early childhood education. McCain believes some money should go to certain "Centers of Excellence" for the better performing Head Start Programs (rather than helping the entire Head Start program). Obama wants to put $10 billion towards voluntary, universal preschool. When it comes to education, Obama has my vote (he has my vote anyways, but only a little when it comes to education).
Ultimately, both candidates want to put more funding into education (although Obama wants to put a little more). But here is the sad truth the way I see it: whoever is the next President of the United States, education will not get the amount nearly the attention by the federal government as it should.
Before 9/11, it looked like education was going to be the top domestic priority, maybe the top overall priority, in the country (granted, with a bad piece of legislation). After 9/11, we had to adjust out priorities more towards security and foreign policy (and rightly so at the time). But since then, we haven't gone back, and our public schools have not gotten the kind of attention it deserves form the federal government. And it doesn't look like it will anytime soon. Not as long as we have a growing deficit, a devastating tax cut for the upper class, and two wars (one of which should have never been started in the first place).
The only way our government can ever really help education in the United States is to realign our priorities. This means realigning the way we spend money (i.e. get out of Iraq, cut the military budget in a reasonable manner, get rid of the Bush tax cuts). More of our money should be geared not just towards funding and reforming reduction, but funding and reforming other programs (which thus carries over to education). I have written about this before, and will continue to write about it in the future. To borrow from James Carville a little: It's Society Stupid (not just education). Until we figure that out, our education system is destined to continue to fail us.
For more on education positions by the candidates visit Obama's website, McCain's website, the New York Times, and CNN.