The Washington Post has launched a snow cleanup page and it can be really helpful for schools trying to organize big dig-outs this weekend. School personnel are working frantically to clean up parking lots, sidewalks, street curbs and other snow-covered areas so that school can finally resume on Tuesday--assuming there isn’t another snow storm with its eye on our region (and there just might be).
By Will Fitzhugh. North Carolina, like Maryland before it, may deal with the difficulty history teachers have in "covering" United States History in one year in high school, by moving the first year (1620-1877) down tothe middle school. This will make it likely that our high school graduates will now be even more ignorant of our nation’s founding and early history. One argument they advance is that it will make our history "more relevant" to their students because it will be "closer" to their own lives. The logical end of this approach will be, I suppose, to constrict the teaching of U.S. history to the latest results for American Idol.
If you live in West Virginia, your child needs to score at least 203 on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which is used to screen for candidates for the National Merit Scholarship program. But if you live in Virginia, that score has to be at least 221, as it is in Washington D.C., Maryland, Massachusetts and New Jersey. New York’s cutoff score is 218. In fact, the cutoff scores vary in each state, and they vary from year to year. Some college admissions counselors think this is patently unfair, and that a national scholarship program should use the same criteria for everyone.
There is a joke among families who spend $30,000 or so send their kids to private schools that the more they pay in tuition, the fewer days their kids are in class. There is no ratio of dollars to school days, but at least some private schools don’t have to stay open as long as public schools do each year.
By George H. Wood and Pedro Antonio Noguera. The legitimate federal role in public education is to insure that all children have equal access to public schooling. As with voting rights and rights to non-discrimination in employment and housing, the federal government protects all citizens by ensuring equal access to those things that enable us to enjoy the fruits of our Constitutional form of government. A high-quality education is one of those rights. Thus, while the federal government provides less than 10% of the national education budget, it can leverage that funding to ensure equitable access to a quality education for all children. To that end, The Forum for Education and Democracy recommends that any reconsideration of the federal education law include the following.
A friend told me that her son had applied to half a dozen colleges and universities for this coming fall. She has become worried that he won’t get into any of them and should have applied to more. What can he do? It turns out that there are scores of fine schools still accepting applications. In some cases, you have only days to finish the application, and in others, a lot longer. (See list below.)
I asked teachers to tell me what they really think about how the school year will be affected by the unscheduled vacation from school because of the snow. Following are a few responses that cover a range of thought. For example, Patrick Welsh, an English teacher at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, thinks the snow vacation shows "how bankrupt high schools are." Read more.
I do not advocate using the following information to get your kids to start early on their 2010-11 college applications. But in the interests of transparency, I will tell you that the people who run the Common Application--a generic application to college accepted at nearly 400 schools--have told guidance counselors that the essay prompts on this year’s application will be carried over for next admissions season.
I found myself between arguments about what kids should and shouldn’t be doing while schools are closed because of the back-to-back snow storms that have left the Washington D.C. region paralyzed--for days on end. I’ve been writing about this issue , suggesting that kids should in fact do something other than playing video games. I've also asked kids of different ages whether they think they should be studying, and, knowing that they just had Christmas break and that spring break beckons, they invariably giggle somewhat sheepishly and say “yes.”
Even as Loudoun County public schools officials were deciding yesterday to close schools for the rest of the week, their counterparts in Montgomery County were holding out hope that the storm forecast for today and tomorrow might veer away from the region. No such luck. That’s why Superintendent Jerry Weast bowed to reality today and decided to close for the rest of the week on the recommendation of his chief operating officer, Larry Bowers.
| February 9, 2010; 5:13 PM ET |
Categories: D.C. Schools, Fairfax County Public Schools, Learning, Montgomery County Public Schools | Tags: schools closed
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Kids don't have to spend every minute of the day on Facebook or playing video games. D.C. Public Schools has put together a great list of activities, including visiting a museum online, watching animals through the National Zoo’s webcams,and spending time on educational websites.Many of these are aimed at younger kids, but there's enough here for all students of all ages.
The Washington Post published an article last Wednesday about a study from UCLA’s Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles [11 mb pdf], which analyzed charter schools across the country and found them to be substantially more racially isolated than traditional public schools. The study has received quite a bit of attention as well as pushback from charter school advocates. Today, the University of Colorado at Boulder's education policy center, along with its partner policy center at Arizona State University, is releasing a study that, coincidentally, asks some of the same questions as did the UCLA study. Our study provides a comprehensive examination of enrollment patterns in schools operated by private corporations and finds these schools to be segregated by race, family income, disabilities, and English language learner status. As compared with their local public school districts, these schools operated by Education Management Organizations, or EMOs, are substantially more segregated, and the strong segregative pattern found in 2001 is virtually unchanged through 2007.
I’m not likely to make any friends among kids with this, but teachers should give some work for their students to do while schools are closed because of the snow. If teachers can’t find a way to reach their students, it wouldn’t kill parents to make sure their kids pick up a book. Some teachers have already posted assignments on their school’s website for kids to complete and return either when they get back to school or by email before then. This is routine at many schools and there’s no reason they can’t do that now. One teacher at a private school in Montgomery County, knowing that all of her students have computers, is holding class online for two hours today and is letting kids off the hook only if their parents provide a valid reason.
A 40-minute phone conversation this morning among Loudoun County Public Schools Supt. Edgar B. Hatrick, senior staff and transportation and maintenance workers in the field persuaded Hatrick that there was no safe way to open schools this week--especially with predictions...
| February 8, 2010; 4:20 PM ET |
Categories: D.C. Schools, Fairfax County Public Schools, Montgomery County Public Schools | Tags: school closings
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I have long wondered why the National Merit scholarship program had so much cache, given the criteria necessary for winning. The program is a competition in which kids become eligible if they do well on the PSAT, or Preliminary SAT test that they generally take in 11th grade. Any regular reader to this blog will know that I do not look kindly on anything in education that relies on a single standardized test score. Here is a critique of the program that I recently read and wanted to share. It was written by Jonathan Reider, director of college counseling at San Francisco University High School. This is how he starts: "National Merit status is a good example of the Platonic distinction between attractive illusion and truth."
| February 8, 2010; 2:28 PM ET |
Categories: College Admissions, SAT and ACT, Standardized Tests | Tags: National Merit Program, college admissions
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By Daniel Willingham. You have probably heard about the retraction by the medical journal Lancet of a 1998 article linking a routine childhood vaccination with autism. This retraction made me think of the fact that such retractions are never seen in Education journals. Retractions in medical journals are rare. According to a report in the Journal of Medical Ethics, during the decade 1995-2004, 0.0065% of articles were later retracted. That percentage has been increasing in the last few decades. A search of the best-known education database (ERIC) showed just one retraction, and that was from an experimental psychology journal catalogued in ERIC.
I asked Montgomery County schools officials to explain who is responsible for challenging fliers that non-profit groups are permitted to send home with students four times a year. The issue arose when my colleague Michael Birnbaum reported that were passed out to some Montgomery County high school students from an organization that insists that therapy can turn gays into heterosexuals. It turns out that it is up to school principals to raise any concerns about the material. The fliers in question, from the group Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays, were distributed at Churchill High School and other schools last week under a district rule that allows non-profit groups from distributing information that is not deemed to be hate speech.
I don’t know what happened in the two hours between the announcement by D.C. Public Schools that schools would open two hours late Monday, and the announcement by D.C. Public Schools that schools would be closed (like all the other school districts in the region as well as the federal government), but clearly, we’ve got a problem here. Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad that D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee reconsidered the decision and came to the conclusion that the better part of valor here was not putting kids and adults at risk by braving snow and ice-filled streets to get to school. But the process that resulted in the initial decision needs to be reviewed. So, for that matter, does the decision to keep administrative offices open tomorrow one hour late, without any hint of leniency for those who can't get there.
Sometimes bucking a trend shows leadership, courage and smarts. And sometimes it suggests the opposite. This is one of those “opposite” times. D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, presumably with the approval of Mayor Adrian Fenty, has decided to do something that every other school district—and the federal government—realized is a bad idea: Open tomorrow.
How hard can it be to decide whether to close a school for bad weather? To find out I called a household where the husband and wife both make the decisions for the two private D.C. schools they head--Georgetown Day School and Beauvoir, the National Cathedral elementary school. There are factors that go into the decision that you might never consider.
| February 7, 2010; 2:39 PM ET |
Categories: D.C. Schools, Fairfax County Public Schools, Montgomery County Public Schools, Private Schools | Tags: closing schools
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