Tuesday, October 12, 2010

ED NEWS WRAP UP: Manifestos, talented teachers, test scores and taxpayers

Education Writers Association | posted by Lori Crouch | http://bit.ly/bUPO2E

Monday, October 11, 2010 | It was a busy weekend in ed news.

Sixteen urban schools superintendents wrote a "manifesto" on how to fix America's schools and the Washington Post's Outlook section printed it this weekend. [http://bit.ly/dej7RJ] Their prescriptions weren't the most surprising: eliminating seniority, getting rid of "poorly performing" teachers, allowing more school choice, closing down failing schools, offering pay-for-performance and other financial incentives. The Post's Answer Sheet blogger, Valerie Strauss, found the manifesto "bankrupt," and regularly featured Answer Sheet guest blogger Dan Willingham found it tepid.

Outlook ran another opinion piece on how the U.S. doesn't attract its top talent to teaching. While that's a shocker to no one, the article by Peter Kihm and Matt Miller put the issue in context by comparing our ability to attract the best and brightest with Singapore, South Korea and Finland.

And the New York Times put out a front page heavy hitter by Jennifer Medina, examining New York's flawed accountability system. The brevity of the test and predictable test subjects recycled year after year made it easy to game the system.

And finally, in higher education news, the American Institutes for Research put out an estimate on how much college dropouts cost U.S. and state taxpayers. The $9.2 billion total pricetag prompted Clifford Adelman, a research associate at the Institute for Higher Education Policy, to cry foul. According to Adelman, the federal tracking system doesn't follow students when they leave one college for another, thus inflating that dropout number.

So what do you think of this weekend's newsmakers? Should the manifesto be taken seriously? Is there anything the U.S. can do to attract its top talent to teaching? Can we even afford to pay teachers what starting lawyers make? Should New York residents be worried that students' test scores may not actually gauge what they have learned? And how accurate is the federal Integrated Postsecondary Educational Data System?

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