Thursday, December 01, 2005

Par for the course

The uber-right wing WSJ editorialists praised the recent Texas Supreme Court decision in an editorial earlier this week. It appeared in the Austin Statesman today. It's an abominable article.

First of all, they claim that "Texas spends nearly $10,000 per student." According the latest statistics (from 2003) from the state's education agency, that figure is actually less than $7,000 per student (click here, see line 67). But why concern ourselves with mere facts? They're so unnecessary.

The WSJ wrote that "the judiciary has flatly rejected the core doctrine of the education establishment that more dollars equal better classroom performance." Really? Justice Hecht, writing for the majority, stated: "Public education can and often does improve with greater resources, just as it struggles when resources are withheld." Soudn like a flat rejection to you?

I could go on at length with other distortions in the editorial but you get the idea. It's a shame that facts -- and the words of the actual decision itself -- are so irrelevant to the WSJ. They have a point of view that I, of course, disagree with, but it's hard to even consider an opposing viewpoint when the opposition uses distortions as willfully (ignorantly?) as the Journal did.

It's an awful editorial that lacks evidence to support its claims. But then, what more would you expect from the Wall Street Journal editorialists? It's par for the course for them.

Moral victory

The National Council of Churches has composed a litany of moral reasons why NCLB should be opposed. It is one of the best explanations of the problems of No Child that I've ever read (and, as you might imagine, I've read a lot-- too many probably).

A sample:

The No Child Left Behind Act blames schools and teachers for many challenges that are neither of their making nor within their capacity to change. The test score focus obscures the importance of the quality of the relationship between the child and teacher. Sincere, often heroic efforts of teachers are made invisible. While the goals of the law are important—to proclaim that every child can learn, to challenge every child to dream of a bright future, and to prepare all children to contribute to society—educators also need financial and community support to accomplish these goals.

Beautiful. And the rest of it is as elegantly and succintly stated. Check it out here and the press release here. (Hat tip to Jim at Schoolsmatter, which is, by the way, one of the very best edublogs out there. Is it school smatter or schools matter? Hmmm...)

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Maybe this will give students a reason to vote...

Hey, I've got an idea to make America even greater than it already is. You ready? Here it is: Let's make college education even more expensive so that fewer people can get high paying jobs! Hell, China and India can provide all of the high-skill jobs anyway, right?

Such is the logic it seems of the Republican leadership in Congress. The new budget includes cuts to student loans so severe that "an average student borrower with $17,500 in loans would pay an estimated $5,800 in additional interest payments." Ouch.

But man, those tax cuts for the rich sure are gonna be sweet. It'll trickle down to those indebted students, right? And think how happy China and India will be!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The culture of corruption, alive and well in Ohio

Jim Horn at Schools Matter has an interesting post about uber-privatizer David Brennan. The constitutionality of his for-profit charter schools is a pending question before the Ohio Supreme Court-- the same Ohio Supreme Court that consists of six justices that have taken campaign contributions from Brennan.

Can you say "culture of corruption," boys and girls?

Monday, November 28, 2005

Things fall apart

Would it be too corny to say that our judicial system is falling apart?

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Gatesifying Austin schools

The Gates Foundation's controversial high school redesign initiative has now fully landed in Austin schools. A few years ago, the Austin school district began the redesign process, which includes splitting big schools into smaller ones, on its own. Now the Gates Foundation is helping to pay the bill; more accurately, they're paying $1.5 million of it.

Austin's NPR station broadcasted a brief story on it Friday. They mention in the story that math scores at the so-called Gates schools are flat, while reading scores are up slightly. What they don't mention is what effect, if any, the redesign process is having on holding power, or the ability of the schools to keep kids from dropping out. I haven't seen any data (I'd be appreciative if anyone who has would post a link in the comments) but my guess is that retention rates go up when the schools are smaller. Math and reading scores aside, that would be a supremely important accomplishment.

I'll be watching the Gatesifying of Austin schools closely.
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