Saturday, February 02, 2008

The news that didn't fit from Feb 3rd!

In Lars and the Real Girl, Bianca - the inanimate sex toy (but not sex object) heroine of the movie becomes so popular in the small Minnesota town she lives in that she is elected to the school board. Anyone who has spent any time with me in a room with a microphone with me has heard the quote from Mark Twain: "First God created idiots; that was for practice. Then He created school boards."

In his Atlantic article Matt Miller goes all Shakespearian on us, paraphrasing Dick the Butcher in Henry VI to advocate for nationalizing public education. Matt plays a centrist on the radio but this is radical thinking …though I'm sure the right and the left will immediately send him to the other side of the room! It is a discussion worth having however (Barack?... Hillary?... John?... Mitt?... Roy Romer and ED in '08?... [note the alphabetical order]) —though I contend the way to begin is create a Constitutional Guarantee of Public Education: A Child's Right to Learn. And build from there.

FIRST, KILL ALL THE SCHOOL BOARDS: A Modest Proposal to Fix the Schools
by Matt Miller | January/February 2008 Atlantic MonthlyHorace Mann, the Father of American Public Education was on the unpopular side of America’s tradition of radical localism when it came to schools. His efforts in the 1840's made Massachusetts a model for taxpayer-funded schools and state-sponsored teacher training, yet the national obsession with local control—not incidentally, an almost uniquely American obsession—still dominates U.S. education to this day. For much of the 150 or so years between Mann’s era and now, the system served us adequately: during that time, we extended more schooling to more people than any nation had before and rose to superpower status. But let’s look at what local control gives us today, in the “flat” world in which our students will have to compete.

The United States spends more than nearly every other nation on schools, but out of 29 developed countries in a 2003 assessment, we ranked 24th in math and in problem-solving, 18th in science, and 15th in reading. Half of all black and Latino students in the U.S. don’t graduate on time (or ever) from high school. As of 2005, about 70 percent of eighth-graders were not proficient in reading. By the end of eighth grade, what passes for a math curriculum in America is two years behind that of other countries.

Dismal fact after dismal fact; by now, they are hardly news. But in the 25 years since the landmark report A Nation at Risk sounded the alarm about our educational mediocrity, America’s response has been scattershot and ineffective, orchestrated mainly by some 15,000 school districts acting alone, with help more recently from the states. When you look at what local control of education has wrought, the conclusion is inescapable: we must carry Mann’s insights to their logical end and nationalize our schools, to some degree. [more]

Sick animals were abused to get them to stand up to pass inspection, undercover video shows + STATE URGES SCHOOLS BAN SUSPECT BEEF: L.A. Unified will offer substitute items after discovering that a supplier butchered weak and ill cattle

The San Fernando Valley Business Journal reports that the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education has decided to adopt a more stringent standard than required by California law for building new schools near sources of airborne pollution.

STEREOTYPES, SILENCE, AND SPEAKING OUT: Asian American Students in Education
from Rethinking Schools Online: Volume 22 No. 2 - Winter 2007/2008
There's no so such thing as a positive stereotype. Yet, when it comes to Asian Americans and education, labeling these students as quiet, industrious, and obedient, hinders student achievement. Reinforcing these stereotypes disassociates Asian American students from their peers in other minority groups, as well as eliminates the need to discuss societal obstacles such as racism and poverty.

In "YOU'RE ASIAN, HOW COULD YOU FAIL MATH?" educators Wayne Au and Benji Chang show the negative effects surrounding the racist myth of the "Model Minority".

With her essay "TAKING A CHANCE WITH WORDS", Carol A. Tateishi, director of the Bay Area Writing Project, looks at the consequences of a significant number of Asian American students do not participate or participate minimally in the everyday classroom discourse.

MARNESBA TILLMON TACKETT, 99; civil rights activist helped desegregate L.A. schools
In the 1950s, black students in Los Angeles were forced to learn in segregated public schools so overcrowded they offered only half-day sessions, while white classrooms had empty chairs.

Mrs. Tackett, a civil rights activist who worked to eliminate inequities in education and played a key role in the battle over desegregation in Los Angeles public schools died Dec. 17 at her home in Los Angeles.

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