Pennsylvania Schools’ Funding Fight Pits District Against Charter -

This might be a crazy idea, but I've wondered for a while how communities would perceive charters if charter schools could only be approved if there is a plan in place to reduce resources at the competing public schools. After all, we aren't in a period of student enrollment growth in most districts, so more students in charters means fewer in public schools. If this is *really* about school choice, then perhaps communities should vote on initiatives worded like: "Do you wish to close public school programs A, B, and C, including the loss of teachers X, Y, and Z, in order to free up resources to start a charter school?" The proverbial cake and eating too certainly aren't coexisting in this economy, so maybe it's best to lay out those details ahead of time.

Pelham Math Committee Misrepresents Statistics in “Math War” over Curriculum | mathlovergrowsup

I like that this post is a fairly careful critique of a critique of research, but I still can't help but gravitate to the comments where judgments are made from seeing on video of one child do one problem. It's amazing how much research we'll dismiss while accepting other evidence so small.

Wall Street steps in when Ivy League fails - The Washington Post

Ezra Klein says smart kids from top colleges are heading into finance because we haven't prepared them to do much else, and few other areas of the economy recruit as well as business and finance. Is he right? I'm not sure, but I think he's on to something. Maybe my evidence is mostly anecdotal, but I've certainly seen students drift to the money in college. Then again, I've seen other students do exactly the opposite when the realize making money with other peoples' money just doesn't satisfy their visions of the type of person they want to be.

‘You are so smart…why did you become a teacher?’ - The Answer Sheet - The Washington Post

I'm hoping some of my School and Society students respond to this article. They know what it's like to be tested, but having grown up with that reality they might put more faith in test results than many skeptics do. After all, it was their positive performance on many tests that positioned them to become the college students they've become.

Murphy: Higher ed in Colorado seeing higher costs than at Laramie - The Denver Post

Questions for my School and Society students: For most college-bound students in Colorado, it will soon be cheaper to attend Wyoming than either CSU or CU-Boulder. Would you go to Wyoming if it were cheaper? If not, how much cheaper would it have to be? Other than cost, what would be part of your decision-making process?

Lawmakers propose scaling back 'zero tolerance' in schools |

This isn't the greatest article on zero tolerance policies, but I'm glad that there's a legislative-level effort to see how the unintended consequences of such policies have done a lot of harm.

On Keeping Pledges » the scottbot irregular

I love that people are signing petitions that push #openaccess, but that kind of action needs to be complimented by stories of people's decisions to publish or not publish based on access policies. This is one of those stories.

Mooresville School District, a Laptop Success Story -

"It's not about the box. It's about changing the culture of instruction -- preparing students for their future, not our past." Right. In the past we might have helped prepare students to work on an assembly line. This sounds more like we're preparing them for the exciting, wonderful world of data entry. I'm glad the NYT at least put a hint of doubt at the end of the article, but I'd rather see a skilled ethnographer's take on what life is like for these students.

Amidst Chaos, 15 Minutes of Quiet Time Helps Focus Students | MindShift

I typically don't go for things like this. A little too touchy-feely for me. But I've been around enough kids to know that many of them don't have the luxury to just sit, in quiet, and not be bothered. Home is stressful. School is stressful. Sleep is hard to come by. Maybe a little quiet time at school goes along way towards feeling safe and in control.

Colleges sell naming rights to bathrooms | Inside Higher Ed

So a few institutions of higher education, including my very own University of Colorado at Boulder, have sold the naming rights to a bathroom. Is selling the naming rights to any part of an educational institution okay? If so, which parts? Where do we draw a line between keeping tuition lower and embarrassing the institution?

Savage Inequalities: Bookapocalypse « prettylittlebanana

I had my School and Society class look at this story, asking them, "Do you think studying ethic groups can cause resentment and division? If so, how can that be used for good rather than evil? If not, what is the study of ethic groups meant to cause?" They were against the censorship, although some admitted that yes, teaching about racial and cultural division will surely lead to recognition of that division. But of course, we can't expect to simply get past what divides us by ignoring it.

Education Gap Grows Between Rich and Poor, Studies Show -

Have we somehow managed to trade one achievement gap for another? The question I'm posing to my School and Society class this week: "Is an achievement gap based on class any better or worse than one based on race? When is it okay to have an achievement gap?"

What should we be teaching? « The Window

I think we have a long way to go before we naturally accept standards of process over standards of content. Too much of what we think of school is about textbooks, tests, lectures, etc. that focus on the what, not the how. Still I'm throwing this prompt out there for my School and Society students: If you asked most people today, "What were you taught in school," you'd likely get responses matching the subjects or courses they took: history, math, geography, English, etc. This list is very different. Do you think there's anything the list leaves out, or includes unnecessarily? Do you think teaching these "survival skills" directly is possible?

Always Formative: Product Placement

Jason Buell's post about who gets chosen to speak about education issues reminded me of a lesson from Lawrence Lessig's latest book, Republic Lost. When looking at the influence of money in politics, Lessig claims perceptions are just as important as reality. Our members of Congress don't need to be bribed or break laws for us to lose faith in the system. Similarly, Jason isn't saying that the panelists chosen at this conference to speak about equity weren't qualified to do so, or had some subversive coordinated agenda in mind. Instead, it's the appearance of dishonesty and collusion among groups in power that shake our faith in any solution they might suggest.

Mathematics Education: Being Outwitted by Stupidity | Education News

Wow, the comments following this article are like a Math Wars All-Star Game, and both sides struggle to set up straw men fast enough to knock them back down again.

But here's what really makes me mean: It's not that many of the commenters aren't trying to cite and link to research, because many of them are. But the research they should be linking to can't be linked to, because our silly academic publishing system keeps that locked away from the public eye. For example, commenter EANelson says, "For the cognitive science of learning (and teaching) math, see" It's a two page article with very few references, and at best it's a commentary piece, not anything close to a comprehensive take on the cognitive science of learning and teaching math. In contrast, consider a 2007 research handbook chapter written by Douglas Clements and Julie Sarama. Even after limiting themselves to just the cognitive science of learning math in early childhood, their summary of peer-reviewed research goes on for 95 very dense pages. But EANelson couldn't have linked to it, and neither (legally) can I. So while I dislike seeing the straw-man arguments, in some ways I can't blame them when the research community hasn't opened up all their results for the world to see.

(By the way, the article itself was based off think tank research, which often is available for public view and scrutiny. For my thoughts on that, see

Shop is Not a Four-Letter Word | Edutopia

Last Tuesday the students in my School and Society class had a conversation about whether or not they felt like attending college was a choice. Most of them come from privileged backgrounds, with college-educated parents, and not going to college simply wasn't a part of their culture. We'll talk a lot about expectations within cultures in that class, and I'm sure those discussions will include ideas and topics they've never had to think about before. I'm hoping the college decision is a good place to start that process.

The conversation also led to talking about the value of vocational classes. In short, I'm pro-vocational, and I dislike the "college-prep-or-you're-a-failure" culture in many schools. While I didn't take any shop classes in high school (music was my primary elective), I learned a lot through helping my father, a trained mechanic and all-around handy guy. I've fixed appliances and engines, built a garage, shingled roofs, and learned a lot of other valuable skills that I wouldn't trade for college-prep knowledge.

Douglas County school board members endorse Romney - The Denver Post

Should school boards be endorsing presidential candidates? That's the question I've posed to my School and Society class, and I'm curious to see their responses.

Khan Academy: It’s Different This Time « Mathalicious

Great commentary on Khan Academy by @Mathalicious. He seems to hit all the right points: the task design isn't very good; Erlwanger and Benny showed us how this didn't work 40 years ago; no matter how much we love technology, education remains a human endeavour; and even though Sal Khan is a great guy providing a great resource -- for free -- we must remind ourselves of how much better we can and should be doing.

Coming Apart by Charles Murray - Quiz

This is a bizarre quiz if I've ever seen one. According to Charles Murray (for some, a cringe-worthy preface to any statement), my score of 46 describes me as either first-generation middle-class with working-class parents (true, assuming a decent income following grad school) or first-generation upper-middle-class with middle-class parents (false). Fortunately, I can easily solidify my working-class credentials with a bus trip to Branson and a day of indiscriminate TV watching. After taking Derek Briggs's Measurement in Survey Research class, I really question the choice of items and the validity of the survey, but I'm pretty sure using the term "validity" in this discussion would nullify all the points I earned on the Murray-Meter.