Blog: The Educated Reporter
Katy bar the door: Rick Hess is blogging! Rick is skeptical of fads (no matter which “side” they emerge from), well-informed and sometimes very right. Like, how can I not be excited to hear him articulate this?:
“For what it’s worth, I find K-12 schooling to be one of the few places in life where we suffer a shortage of cynics and skeptics. The cost is a dearth of observers willing to deliver some bitter medicine to a sector gorged on saccharine sentiment.”
Once all students graduate high school able to enter college without needing remedial classes, then we can talk about getting rid of senior year. But I missed the part where we educated students so well that they couldn’t possibly benefit from a fourth year of high school. If senior year is a waste of time, wouldn’t the right answer be making it better, rather than trying to save money by canning it?
Just so you know where I am coming from: I grew up playing and watching lots of sports, and will never forget the lineup of the 1982 Milwaukee Brewers, but in my adulthood I have grown ambivalent if not a bit hostile to the attention and money Americans expend on professional and pseudo-professional (i.e. college) athletics.
This week’s New York Times Magazine has an enlightening piece by Russell Shorto about the frighteningly political process for curriculum adoption in Texas—which has ripples throughout the country, because as the Lone Star State goes, so go textbook publishers everywhere.
Knowing nothing but the zillion things I have read, and setting aside that the charter schools themselves are somewhat of a mystery to me, I think the Harlem Children’s Zone is all sorts of awesome.
A new study from the Civil Rights Project has gotten people talking—or should I say snickering? At National Journal, the analysts pile on, criticizing (fairly so) that the report’s main point is a heaping helping of No Duh: Schools designed as alternatives for children in overwhelmingly minority areas have student populations that are—get this!—overwhelmingly minority.
Does anybody ever read a press release? Is that even a remotely effective way to get your message out to journalists? Do PR people think about whether the recipients of their releases would really, truly be interested in them? Did the person who sent me a release about this have any idea I would only publicize it in order to mock it? (Oh, any press is good press, I know.)
I introduced Milo to coloring, thinking it would be a great activity for him to do independently while I cooked or cleaned or otherwise paid him no mind. Of course it didn’t work out that way, because while he (literally) loves crayons to bits—and don’t get me started with his unhealthy obsession with BATH CRAYONS—he sees coloring as a team sport. “Draw blue bawoon!” “Draw M!” “Draw green car!” I draw something, he bids bye-bye and scribbles over it, and it all starts over again.
An interesting point made in a letter to Romenesko by writer David Macaray: Why do journalists so often preface “teachers union” with the word “powerful”? Whether or not they are powerful, we don’t use that formulation with other institutions that clearly are.
There is so much rhetorical sloppiness swirling around NCLB right now, it is impossible to know what anyone is talking about. Duncan complains that the current law is too prescriptive, but comments indicate new approaches that are even moreso. He calls 100 percent proficiency a utopian goal but wants to replace it with what he says is a higher bar: career and college readiness. How to judge that students are college-ready if not by giving them a test and seeing if 100 percent pass it? You’re awarded money if you make progress, and money if you’re failing.
My first job in journalism, junior year in college, was an internship with the Wall Street Journal editorial page in Brussels. I was so clueless going into my interview that for my writing sample I brought an essay criticizing Ronald Reagan. David Brooks, sitting under a portrait of Margaret Thatcher, said, “We like Reagan here.” I got the job anyway.