Blog: The Educated Reporter
If you are a Chicago reporter and free on Friday, June 11, you should head to Marquette Park to see a group of students from Gage Park High School—a place that is typically in the news either for murdered students or horrid test scores—launch a different kind of memorial, a high-tech kiosk commemorating the housing rights marches of 1966. Civil rights leaders, including Jesse Jackson Sr., will be on hand for the dedication.
… or purposely hyperbolic? He wrote in today’s column on education reform, “In every other job in this country, people are measured by whether they produce results.” Why does he need to say that? Whether or not you think it should be the case, it is just not true. Also, among smart reformers, there is not consensus that once “mediocrity infects a school culture, it’s nearly always best to simply replace the existing school with another,” as he wrote.
When I was at Wesleyan, the college did not give me credit for my jobs as a record store clerk, pizza slinger and Friendly’s waitress. So maybe the reason this story, about Wal-Mart employees getting college credit for ringing up customers, rubs me wrong is because I am jealous?
I am frequently asked what the U.S. dropout rate is. That’s like asking how you make chocolate ice cream; there are so many possible methods and outcomes. It is easy for me to make recommendations when it comes to ice cream: Alton Brown if you have a lot of time or David Lebovitz if you don’t. Graduation rates, however, are more complicated.
I wish someone would write a story about teachers like my sister-in-law. Since getting her master’s about six years ago, she has had to teach a new grade level every year and switched schools nearly as often. No matter that she has ELL certification, no matter that she is great at her job—last hired, first fired, rinse and repeat, every single year. Even before budget cuts spread throughout the country, northeastern Illinois schools, whose taxpayers fought every levy, had pared back, then back some more.
If I were to ever write another book, it would be about college. I won’t get any more specific than that—idea poachers and all—except to say it would be a far fuller picture of the entire student experience than a “year in the life of a sorority” book. Teaching and learning and all that important stuff.
Now that we are starting to see more staff churn in the name of turnaround—such as was explained by Toni Konz in this Louisville Courier-Journal piece this week—I imagine (I hope) reporters will pursue comprehensive stories about what reforms look like from that point. How are the new teachers selected? How do you go about changing culture? How are all the educators in the building trained for the new challenge?
A new report in California shows a significant drop in the number of people entering teacher preparation programs in that state. You can’t blame someone for bypassing teaching these days, as it is far from a sure bet at employment. I am curious if this trend is reflected elsewhere, and what it means for improving teacher quality at the beginning of the pipeline. Are universities able to be as selective as before, which, some would argue, was not that selective to begin with?