What I read today – news roundup

Extensive and very interesting article about charter schools in today’s New York Times: 

[F}or all their support and cultural cachet, the majority of the 5,000 or so charter schools nationwide appear to be no better, and in many cases worse, than local public schools when measured by achievement on standardized tests, according to experts citing years of research. Last year one of the most comprehensive studies, by researchers from Stanford University, found that fewer than one-fifth of charter schools nationally offered a better education than comparable local schools, almost half offered an equivalent education and more than a third, 37 percent, were “significantly worse.”Although “charter schools have become a rallying cry for education reformers,” the report, by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes, warned, “this study reveals in unmistakable terms that, in the aggregate, charter students are not faring as well” as students in traditional schools.

Researchers for this study and others pointed to a successful minority of charter schools — numbering perhaps in the hundreds — and these are the ones around which celebrities and philanthropists rally, energized by their narrowing of the achievement gap between poor minority students and white students.

But with the Obama administration offering the most favorable climate yet for charter schools, the challenge of reproducing high-flying schools is giving even some advocates pause. Academically ambitious leaders of the school choice movement have come to a hard recognition: raising student achievement for poor urban children — what the most fervent call a new civil rights campaign — is enormously difficult and often expensive.  Continue  reading >>>

Good op-ed written by a teacher in today’s Chronicle Insight section, discussing the current prevalence of teacher-bashing by folks who:

[buy] into what the former Bronx history teacher and writer Tom Moore has called “The Myth of the Great Teacher” – the Hilary Swank-like heroine who never eats lunch, never stops working and has no personal life – a veritable automaton of education.

Hollywood aside, teachers often fall short of that ideal. And maybe that’s as it should be. When teachers are allowed to be human, perhaps we’ll understand that educational excellence isn’t a matter of scapegoating them. It ought to be the rational outcome of a fully funded commitment supported by parents and community members, taxpayers and lawmakers. That includes not only paying teachers more and improving working conditions but also increasing the training and pay of high-quality substitutes for those few times when teachers must be absent.
 Continue reading >>>>

A depressing SF Chronicle piece on the state of gifted and talented education in California. Unfortunately, the link won’t work until 5:00 a.m. Tuesday morning, but if you have a print copy of the paper you can read it there – page A1.

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2 responses to “What I read today – news roundup

  1. Bernal Dad

    There was also article by Charles Murray of “Bell Curve” infamy, opining that while charter schools aren’t better than regular publics, we should support them anyway because they offer choice.

    Which, considering the angst the lottery/choice system has caused in SF, struck me as naive at best and disingenuous at worst.

  2. Beatrice Motamedi, author of the commentary on teachers, is a displaced Chronicle reporter. As the wife of a fellow displaced Chronicle reporter-turned-teacher, I’m pleased that she challenged their former colleagues’ thoughtless but vigorous teacher-bashing, and did it with class. The cover headline to her commentary used the term “failing schools,” and I’m calling on the press to stop using that term. Branding a school “failing” is not in the job description of a reporter or editor, and it’s a harsh attack on the educators and students in the school.