Feudin' on the Reform Front. In the wake of the ruling in the Vergara case in California and the filing of a similar case in New York City, the temperature surrounding the education reform debate--especially as it relates to teacher tenure in staffing decisions--is heating up a bit. Well, actually more than a bit as evidenced by this article by Jonathan Chait in The Daily Intelligencer. The latest kerfuffle and resulting Twitter war surrounds comments by Dr. Diane Ravitch regarding former CNN anchor Campbell Brown, who is now involved in efforts to revamp teacher tenure laws.
I'll just link the article and let everyone form their own opinion about Ravitch's comments and the charges and counter-charges that emerged after those comments. Chait admits that he has a bias in the debate (his wife wrote the recently-issued report by the Center for American Progress outlining how difficult it can be to get rid of ineffective teachers) and, as a result, his comments border on snarky at some junctures. That's not to say that his points aren't without merit (but again, Ravitch's points have merit as well).
New York Magazine Daily Intelligencer article: http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2014/07/ravitch-campbell-brown-too-pretty-to-be-smart.html
Here is a link to the report cited in the article from the Center for American Progress: http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/education/report/2010/03/10/7525/removing-chronically-ineffective-teachers/
Reichgott on Charter Schools. Former State Senator Ember Reichgott, the chief author of Minnesota's charter school legislation passed in 1991 (the first charter school law in the nation) has been travelling the country for the past year-and-a-half talking about charter school laws throughout the country (and probably promoting her book "Zero Chance of Passage: The Pioneering Charter School Story) and working to confront issues that are cropping up in the discussion surrounding charter schools.
Beth Hawkins published this article in today's MinnPost in which former Senator Reichgott Junge talks about some of the charges that charter school opponents raise in the discussion about charter school achievement and whether or not charter schools are a threat to traditional public schools. In reading the article, I was glad to see that Reichgott Junge didn't invoke the "parents are more satisfied with their choice" line that drives me up a wall. Maybe it's just me, but satisfaction alone should account for much of anything if enhancing achievement and fostering innovation are the goals of the program. It's like someone going on a high-fat, high-sodium diet which would likely result in health issues going to the doctor and saying "Hey, I was really satisfied with that diet!"
Anyway, here is the link to the article: http://www.minnpost.com/learning-curve/2014/07/ember-reichgott-junge-confronts-seven-myths-and-misconceptions-about-charter-
And here is a link to Reichgott Junge's book: http://www.amazon.com/Zero-Chance-Passage-Pioneering-Charter/dp/1592984762
Another Interesting Study. The one really great thing about the non-session pace of business is the fact that I get to dive into articles and studies that add new perspectives to my thinking. Governing magazine published this article today about a Johns Hopkins University study released in June that certainly adds credence to the points of many who contend the discussion of achievement and the achievement gap go well beyond what happens in schools. I mentioned Diane Ravitch earlier in this entry, but she, like many others, point out the difficulties experienced by many families throughout the country, especially poorer families in urban areas, and how those difficulties contribute to educational deficits. The study zeroes in on the issue of affordable housing and how affordable housing helps provide families stability and this stability then shows up in higher test scores by students in these families. For the most part, the findings are self-evident, but it is always helpful when data is provided that shows that the issues surrounding achievement are about more than simply schools and school structure.
Governing article: http://www.governing.com/topics/health-human-services/gov-affordable-housing-equals-smarter-kids.html
Johns Hopkins link: http://releases.jhu.edu/2014/06/09/affordable-housing-linked-to-childrens-intellectual-ability/