Today’s Bookmarks from Diigo 01/30/2007

30 01 2007

*Read*Write*Learn*  Annotated(1)

Once upon a time, there was a boy named Quedstie. He was a slave for his two brothers. One day, the king announced whoever finds his crown will get three prizes. “You have three days! Go!”

  • What a great idea for a story, super creative kid!
     – post by del_ambiguity
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Water gets Oscar nod…

30 01 2007

Deepa Mehta’s ‘Water’ Goes From Being Banned to Oscar Nomination – NAM

Deepa Mehta’s ‘Water’ Goes From Being Banned to Oscar Nomination New America Media, Q&A, Sandip Roy, Posted: Jan 28, 2007Deepa Mehta’s film Water has been nominated for an Academ




Today’s Bookmarks from Diigo 01/29/2007

29 01 2007

Teacher Magazine: The Real World

  • great articel on a project-based program that champions authentic assessments over bubble-based testing
     – post by del_ambiguity

SCHOOL MATTERS: Bush Bails on Education – NAM  Annotated(6)

NCLB began auspiciously with the right emphasis on enabling urban students to improve their school performance. It provided a frame for establishing high standards for all students and making schools responsible for student progress.

But for all its good intentions, the law has created huge problems for educators, students and parents, and has failed to deliver in crucial areas.

    In a feeble attempt at a remedy, once again the Bush administration is playing the voucher card. In his speech, Bush said he wants to enable “children stuck in failing schools the right to choose some place better.”

    The Department of Education reauthorization plan allocates $4,000 scholarships for students to attend private, other public or out-of-district public schools. This does not address the problem that in many cities, there are simply no schools in which to use the scholarships. Private schools are exclusive and are not likely to accept large numbers of under-performing students from public schools. The tuition of the best private schools can range from four to seven times that of the scholarship money. And there is no sign that suburban schools with high performing students are lining up to accept these students, either.

    So far, the transfer aspect of NCLB is a failure. In 2005, nationwide, only 1 percent of eligible students chose to transfer. Critics also question spending money on busing students when funds are needed to hire better teachers, improve instruction and provide books and computers.

    Notwithstanding the need to establish stronger benchmarks for success, the testing regime established by NCLB has delivered no more than minimal results.

      In his speech, Bush cited the progress minority children had made in closing the testing score gap between them and other students. Fact-checkers working after the speech and others say that Bush’s claim that NCLB is closing the gap is exaggerated.

      Results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress in 2005 indicated that the reading scores for fourth grade Asian, Hispanic and black students went up modestly. Native American scores went down. For the eighth grade, scores for all groups except Asians went down. The achievement gap between black and white students from 2002 to 2005 widened a bit.

        For sure, teachers around the country are reeling under the weight of a testing regime. Some out of desperation are resorting to deadly drills that sap the spirit of students and deaden the joy of learning.

          Harnessed with poor teaching conditions, unruly students and inadequate training, teachers do not last. There should be more federal money going directly for salaries and training for those teachers willing to take jobs in schools with vast numbers of under-performing students.

            The war in Iraq and tax cuts for the rich have depleted the treasury, and now that the Democrats rule Congress, Bush has forsaken the route of deficit spending and is trumpeting the virtues of a balanced budget.

            Yet there is no more important challenge facing the nation than turning out, in Bush’s words, “a public with knowledge and character.” It will take more than a warmed-over NCLB to meet that challenge.

              Schools Matter  Annotated(1)

              The CBS Film You Won’t See on CBS

              Apparently it doesn’t fit the feel-good format of America’s mom, Katie Couric, and the MSM corporate fealty to the War Machine. From Josh Marshall:

              Take a look at this video segment about the war on the ground in Baghdad, The Battle for Haifa Street, little more than a mile from the Green Zone. For some reason CBS only ran it on their website. It never saw the light of day on the network news.

              Murrow rolls in his grave.

                http://www.nypost.com/php/pfriendly/print.php?url=http://www.nypost.com/seven/01282007/news/regionalnews/lost_lessons_in_test_prep_craze_regionalnews_angela_montefinise.htm  Annotated(5)

                • teaching strategies instead of just teaching….

                   – post by del_ambiguity

                January 28, 2007 — For a month, third-graders at one Brooklyn elementary school had only two social-studies lessons.

                Their teacher said she was too busy teaching kids test-taking strategies.

                  “The kids can’t tell you who the president was during the Civil War,” she said. “But they can tell you how to eliminate answers on a multiple-choice test. And as long as our test scores are up, everyone will be happy.

                  “That’s education?”

                  The teacher, who requested anonymity, said she was ordered by her principal to “forget about everything except test prep” over the four weeks prior to this month’s statewide English tests.

                  “All anyone cares about now are test scores,” she lamented.

                    Since the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 brought high-stakes testing to the nation, city teachers have complained that statewide tests and test preparation have dominated class time. Now, they say, the situation is getting worse.

                      Another teacher called it “institutionalized child abuse.”

                      There are no systemwide rules for test prep. Individual schools decide how much is necessary.

                      Principals are partially evaluated on test scores, so “naturally, they want the scores up, [and] that’s our priority,” one teacher said. “Actual education is second.”

                        Tests are crucial because they “give schools valuable information that they use to pinpoint students’ strengths and weaknesses and create academic plans to address them,” said city Department of Education spokesman Andrew Jacob.

                          Schools Matter: Testing and the “Darkest Underbelly”  Annotated(5)

                          In the meantime, of course, there are the millions of children, parents, and teachers who are being sacrificed each year in order to attain the assured failure that has been planned for them. The choking canaries in this dark poisonous mine are, of course, the poor, the disabled, the immigrant, the minority–the ones supposedly for whom the title of this legislation was stolen from the Children’s Defense Fund. No Child Left Behind, indeed.

                            Bush and Spellings have shown zero interest in acknowledging the impossibility of children reaching their 100% proficiency target in math and reading by 2014.

                              At this time, about 40 percent of our student body is special-needs students. One part of the No Child Left Behind Act requires special education students to meet the same benchmarks as their counterparts in general education.

                                A little-known aspect of this policy is that a school can be judged deficient solely on the basis of the Education Department’s judgment that special education students are not successful on state assessments. This indeed is the mechanism by which Campus West was designated as needing improvement. The policy of judging an entire school program by measuring special education student achievement on standardized testing precipitates much more negative fallout than the simple label implies.

                                  Lastly, and the reason for this explanatory piece, the policy of judging a school by the success of its special education students on standardized tests affects student responses to their educational program. One bright student, perhaps reflecting her parent’s comments, was recently overheard: “Campus West is a “bad’ school because we have “dumb’ kids taking these [standardized] tests.”

                                  Much more could be said, but to me, this statement reflects the darkest underbelly of the unwarranted use of standardized testing and provides its own commentary.





                                    NCLB from the State of the Union

                                    29 01 2007

                                    SCHOOL MATTERS: Bush Bails on Education – NAM

                                    NCLB began auspiciously with the right emphasis on enabling urban students to improve their school performance. It provided a frame for establishing high standards for all students and making schools responsible for student progress.

                                    But for all its good intentions, the law has created huge problems for educators, students and parents, and has failed to deliver in crucial areas.

                                    In a feeble attempt at a remedy, once again the Bush administration is playing the voucher card. In his speech, Bush said he wants to enable "children stuck in failing schools the right to choose some place better."

                                    The Department of Education reauthorization plan allocates $4,000 scholarships for students to attend private, other public or out-of-district public schools. This does not address the problem that in many cities, there are simply no schools in which to use the scholarships. Private schools are exclusive and are not likely to accept large numbers of under-performing students from public schools. The tuition of the best private schools can range from four to seven times that of the scholarship money. And there is no sign that suburban schools with high performing students are lining up to accept these students, either.

                                    So far, the transfer aspect of NCLB is a failure. In 2005, nationwide, only 1 percent of eligible students chose to transfer. Critics also question spending money on busing students when funds are needed to hire better teachers, improve instruction and provide books and computers.

                                    Notwithstanding the need to establish stronger benchmarks for success, the testing regime established by NCLB has delivered no more than minimal results.

                                    In his speech, Bush cited the progress minority children had made in closing the testing score gap between them and other students. Fact-checkers working after the speech and others say that Bush’s claim that NCLB is closing the gap is exaggerated.

                                    Results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress in 2005 indicated that the reading scores for fourth grade Asian, Hispanic and black students went up modestly. Native American scores went down. For the eighth grade, scores for all groups except Asians went down. The achievement gap between black and white students from 2002 to 2005 widened a bit.

                                    For sure, teachers around the country are reeling under the weight of a testing regime. Some out of desperation are resorting to deadly drills that sap the spirit of students and deaden the joy of learning.
                                    Harnessed with poor teaching conditions, unruly students and inadequate training, teachers do not last. There should be more federal money going directly for salaries and training for those teachers willing to take jobs in schools with vast numbers of under-performing students.
                                    The war in Iraq and tax cuts for the rich have depleted the treasury, and now that the Democrats rule Congress, Bush has forsaken the route of deficit spending and is trumpeting the virtues of a balanced budget.

                                    Yet there is no more important challenge facing the nation than turning out, in Bush’s words, "a public with knowledge and character." It will take more than a warmed-over NCLB to meet that challenge.





                                    Testing in NYC

                                    29 01 2007

                                    http://www.nypost.com/php/pfriendly/print.php?url=http://www.nypost.com/seven/01282007/news/regionalnews/lost_lessons_in_test_prep_craze_regionalnews_angela_montefinise.htm

                                    • teaching strategies instead of just teaching….

                                       – post by del_ambiguity

                                    January 28, 2007 — For a month, third-graders at one Brooklyn elementary school had only two social-studies lessons.

                                    Their teacher said she was too busy teaching kids test-taking strategies.

                                    "The kids can’t tell you who the president was during the Civil War," she said. "But they can tell you how to eliminate answers on a multiple-choice test. And as long as our test scores are up, everyone will be happy.

                                    "That’s education?"

                                    The teacher, who requested anonymity, said she was ordered by her principal to "forget about everything except test prep" over the four weeks prior to this month’s statewide English tests.

                                    "All anyone cares about now are test scores," she lamented.

                                    Since the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 brought high-stakes testing to the nation, city teachers have complained that statewide tests and test preparation have dominated class time. Now, they say, the situation is getting worse.

                                    Another teacher called it "institutionalized child abuse."

                                    There are no systemwide rules for test prep. Individual schools decide how much is necessary.

                                    Principals are partially evaluated on test scores, so "naturally, they want the scores up, [and] that’s our priority," one teacher said. "Actual education is second."

                                    Tests are crucial because they "give schools valuable information that they use to pinpoint students’ strengths and weaknesses and create academic plans to address them," said city Department of Education spokesman Andrew Jacob.




                                    NCLB- commentary re: special ed

                                    29 01 2007

                                    Schools Matter: Testing and the "Darkest Underbelly"

                                    In the meantime, of course, there are the millions of children, parents, and teachers who are being sacrificed each year in order to attain the assured failure that has been planned for them. The choking canaries in this dark poisonous mine are, of course, the poor, the disabled, the immigrant, the minority–the ones supposedly for whom the title of this legislation was stolen from the Children’s Defense Fund. No Child Left Behind, indeed.
                                    Bush and Spellings have shown zero interest in acknowledging the impossibility of children reaching their 100% proficiency target in math and reading by 2014.
                                    At this time, about 40 percent of our student body is special-needs students. One part of the No Child Left Behind Act requires special education students to meet the same benchmarks as their counterparts in general education.
                                    A little-known aspect of this policy is that a school can be judged deficient solely on the basis of the Education Department’s judgment that special education students are not successful on state assessments. This indeed is the mechanism by which Campus West was designated as needing improvement. The policy of judging an entire school program by measuring special education student achievement on standardized testing precipitates much more negative fallout than the simple label implies.

                                    Lastly, and the reason for this explanatory piece, the policy of judging a school by the success of its special education students on standardized tests affects student responses to their educational program. One bright student, perhaps reflecting her parent’s comments, was recently overheard: "Campus West is a "bad’ school because we have "dumb’ kids taking these [standardized] tests."

                                    Much more could be said, but to me, this statement reflects the darkest underbelly of the unwarranted use of standardized testing and provides its own commentary.





                                    Today’s Bookmarks from Diigo 01/26/2007

                                    26 01 2007

                                    Future School  Annotated(10)

                                    You’ve been writing about our educational system for decades. What’s the most pressing need in public education right now?

                                    Shut down the public education system.

                                    That’s pretty radical.

                                    I’m roughly quoting (Microsoft chairman) Bill Gates, who said, “We don’t need to reform the system; we need to replace the system.”

                                    Why not just readjust what we have in place now? Do we really need to start from the ground up?

                                    We should be thinking from the ground up. That’s different from changing everything. However, we first have to understand how we got the education system that we now have. Teachers are wonderful, and there are hundreds of thousands of them who are creative and terrific, but they are operating in a system that is completely out of time. It is a system designed to produce industrial workers.

                                    Let’s look back at the history of public education in the United States. You have to go back a little over a century. For many years, there was a debate about whether we should even have public education. Some parents wanted kids to go to school and get an education; others said, “We can’t afford that. We need them to work. They have to work in the field, because otherwise we starve.” There was a big debate. Late in the 1800s, during the Industrial Revolution, business leaders began complaining about all these rural kids who were pouring into the cities and going to work in our factories. Business leaders said that these kids were no good, and that what they needed was an educational system that would produce “industrial discipline.”

                                      How does that system fit into a world where assembly lines have gone away?

                                      It doesn’t. The public school system is designed to produce a workforce for an economy that will not be there. And therefore, with all the best intentions in the world, we’re stealing the kids’ future.

                                      Do I have all the answers for how to replace it? No. But it seems to me that before we can get serious about creating an appropriate education system for the world that’s coming and that these kids will have to operate within, we have to ask some really fundamental questions. And some of these questions are scary. For example: Should education be compulsory? And, if so, for who? Why does everybody have to start at age five? Maybe some kids should start at age eight and work fast. Or vice versa. Why is everything massified in the system, rather than individualized in the system? New technologies make possible customization in a way that the old system — everybody reading the same textbook at the same time — did not offer.

                                      • kjhaflkjashfakj hskdjfha lkjfhslkjhf a hkljsh kljash
                                         – post by del_ambiguity
                                      Today, we have a big controversy about all the charter schools that are springing up. The school system people hate them because they’re taking money from them. I say we should radically multiply charter schools, because they begin to provide a degree of diversity in the system that has not been present. Diversify the system.

                                        It’s a tough juxtaposition. So, what to do? Suppose you were made head of the U.S. Department of Education. What would be the first items on your agenda?

                                        The first thing I’d say: “I want to hear something I haven’t heard before.” I just hear the same ideas over and over and over again. I meet teachers who are good and well intentioned and smart, but they can’t try new things, because there are too many rules. They tell me that “the bureaucratic rules make it impossible for me to do what you’re suggesting.”

                                          We’re holding forty or fifty million kids prisoner for x hours a week. And the teacher is given a set of rules as to what you’re going to say to the students, how you’re going to treat them, what you want the output to be, and let no child be left behind. But there’s a very narrow set of outcomes. I think you have to open the system to new ideas.

                                            You need to find out what each student loves. If you want kids to really learn, they’ve got to love something.

                                              Integrate the curricula.

                                              Yeah — the culture, the technology, all these things.

                                              Like real life.

                                              Like real life, yes! And, like in real life, there is an enormous, enormous bank of knowledge in the community that we can tap into. So, why shouldn’t a kid who’s interested in mechanical things or engines or technology meet people from the community who do that kind of stuff, and who are excited about what they are doing and where it’s going? But at the rate of change, the actual skills that we teach, or that they learn by themselves, about how to us his gizmo or that gizmo, that’s going to be obsolete — who knows? — in five years or in five minutes.

                                              So, that’s another thing: Much of what we’re transmitting is doomed to obsolescence at a far more rapid rate than ever before. And that knowledge becomes what we call obsoledge: obsolete knowledge. We have this enormous bank of obsolete knowledge in our heads, in our books, and in our culture. When change was slower, obsoledge didn’t pile up as quickly. Now, because everything is in rapid change, the amount of obsolete knowledge that we have — and that we teach — is greater and greater and greater. We’re drowning in obsolete information. We make big decisions — personal decisions — based on it, and public and political decisions based on it.

                                                The textbooks are the same for every child; every child gets the same textbook. Why should that be? Why shouldn’t some kids get a textbook — and you can do this online a lot more easily than you can in print — why shouldn’t a kid who’s interested in one particular thing, whether it’s painting or drama, or this or that, get a different version of the textbook than the kid sitting in the next seat, who is interested in engineering?

                                                  I think that schools have to be completely integrated into the community, to take advantage of the skills in the community. So, there ought to be business offices in the school, from various kinds of business in the community.

                                                    How does the role of the teacher change?

                                                    I think (and this is not going to sit very well with the union) that maybe teaching shouldn’t be a lifetime career. Maybe it’s important for teachers to quit for three or four years and go do something else and come back. They’ll come back with better ideas. They’ll come back with ideas about how the outside world works, in ways that would not have been available to them if they were in the classroom the whole time. So, let’s sit down as a culture, as a society, and say, “Teachers, parents, people outside, how do we completely rethink this? We’re going to create a new system from ground zero, and what new ideas have you got?” And collect those new ideas. That would be a very healthy thing for the country to do.

                                                    You’re advocating for fundamental radical changes. Are you an optimist when it comes to public education?

                                                    I just feel it’s inevitable that there will have to be change. The only question is whether we’re going to do it starting now, or whether we’re going to wait for catastrophe.