Wednesday, August 27, 2008

It's Pretty Obvious School is Right around the Corner. If you pick up a national or local magazine or newspaper this month, it's likely to have an education story in it. It's been a total bombardment! Some of the more interesting articles I have seen are (unfortunately, most of thees articles require either a subscription to view online or a run to the local newsstand for the issue):

Harper's, September 2008 issue, "Tyranny of the Test" by high school science teacher Jeremy Miller, who worked for a year as a tutor for Kaplan. This is a pretty compelling story written from a first-person perspective. Most of it we've all heard before, but it never hurts to hear it again.

Tyranny of the Test:

The American Prospect, September 2008 issue, "How the Dems Lost on Education" by Kevin Carey. The American Prospect is a left-of-center magazine, but this article certainly doesn't have many nice things to say about one of the key constituencies of the Democratic Party, the National Education Association. In pretty much direct contrast to Miller's Harper's article, Carey provides a spirited defense of NCLB from a left-of-center perspective.

How the Dems Lost on Education:

Carey is a research and policy manager at Education Sector, an education think tank located in Washington, D.C. Here are links to Education Sector and Carey's biography.

Education Sector:

Kevin Carey:

The American Prospect also has a blog and Dana Goldstein provided this interesting entry in conjunction with the Democratic National Convention. This one is FREE folks.

"The Democratic Education Divide":

It looks as though education is going to be a hot item in this fall's election and I will keep you posted with the latest articles in the national and local press.

Dueling Executive Directors. Speaking of the local press, there was a spirited exchange in the StarTribune during the past week or so on education accountability between Minnesota Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Bill Blazar and Minnesota Association of School Administrators Executive Director (and SEE's landlord) Charlie Kyte. Blazar provided the initial comments in a piece outlining questions he believes should be asked by Minneapolis voters as they approach this November's referendum in the Minneapolis School District for $60 million (partially renewal/partially new revenue).

Blazar Editorial:

Kyte Editorial:

Frankly, I thought Bill Blazar would have more than four questions and his questions seem eminently reasonable. But there's always seems to be this undertone with folks writing from the perspective of business that insinuates that schools create an on-going stream of misinformation and verbal legerdemain that masks their basic incompetency. We know that isn't the case and I think Charlie Kyte's straightforward response speaks to that.

In my aside, I would have to say that I don't always "get" business either and I sometimes wish their books were more open to the public. I can't walk into Dick Schultz' office at Best Buy and ask for his sales per square foot at all of his retail locations and tell him, "Look, these numbers improve (and the selection gets better in the music section), or I'm heading to Circuit City from now on!" I suppose business can argue that the fact I have that choice and that they always make decisions based on objective data gives them the right to protect their data and make the decisions they want to make without my input.

I realize that we cannot treat schools on the same model as businesses and that almost any comparison is inappropriate. Everyone is a "stockholder" in public education and businesses, as well as individual voters, have a right to their expectations. At the same time, if all can criticize, all should be expected to roll up their sleeves and help make our public education system the best that it can be and compete in the global economy.

Keep Checking the Website. Deb and I are going to be posting a lot of interesting data and other things in the coming weeks and months. Hopefully, it will help every one of you make the case for education funding and reform in the months ahead.

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