Here is our weekly roundup of interesting posts from education blogs around the country. Duncan’s imperial overreach. Rick Hess More on overreach. Hess again Public employee unions vs. Dem governors. Intercepts First year of “Teacherpocalypse” – less that 1% reduction in force. Intercepts On treating students, educators like rats in a maze. Ravitch, Bridging Differences A different take on the study Ravitch lauds. Joanne Jacobs Whatever happened to intrinsic motivation? Failing Schools The upside and downside of urban school reform. Larry Cuban Choice is not a magic integration bullet. Learning First Alliance
Anyone who has read this blog over time knows that my librul heart bleeds for school integration, and particularly socio-economic mixing of student populations. Other bloggers and commenters here have pointed out that economically integrating schools is a sweet and quaint notion, entirely impractical in an environment where neighborhoods are segregated and local control rules the day. And, some argue, since "no excuses" schools are proving that high-poverty student bodies can succeed under the right conditions, why batter one's head against the brick wall of integration? That all may be so. I believe in multiple strategies, though, so while letting a thousand "no excuses" flowers bloom, I also hope communities keep looking for creative ways to foster integration. A new article in The American Prospect highlights one community's push to socio-economically integrate its schools. Omaha might not seem the likeliest place to push an aggressive integration agenda, but the Learning Community program is unlike anything I've read about elsewhere in the country.
Marc Tucker and his National Center on Education and the Economy made a big splash back in 2006 with the publication of "Tough Choices or Tough Times," a provocative manifesto calling for a radical overhaul of public education in the U.S. Tucker's central argument was that we are falling far behind other nations because we are stuck in old paradigms about how education should look. Now, in an update of sorts, Tucker has released "Standing on the Shoulders of Giants," a 47-page paper that lays out two major and fundamental steps he believes the U.S. must begin taking immediately. Characteristically forceful and provocative, Tucker lays it out in stark terms:
It's billed as a debate, but the 35-minute session featuring Diane Ravitch and Jonathan Alter Wednesday on a local talk show was more two people filibustering than anything resembling a true give-and-take. Host David Sirota didn't pretend to be a disinterested third party, coming down, as one would expect, firmly on Ravitch's side. Listen to it here. (Thanks to GothamSchools) Still, having the two on his program was a coup of sorts. The dust-up between them began when Ravitch wrote an op-ed last week in the New York Times, in which she questioned the "miracle" mythology around certain schools, including Denver's Bruce Randolph. Alter, a long-time Newsweek correspondent who now writes for Bloomberg News, penned a column accusing Ravitch of attempting to derail current reforms. He called her "the education world’s very own Whittaker Chambers, the famous communist turned strident anti-communist of the 1940s." Neither Ravitch nor Alter broke new ground, but they spent at least 10 minutes talking about Bruce Randolph. Ravitch, the hater of standardized tests, used test scores to build her argument that Randolph is an abysmal school, while Alter said based on growth data, Randolph looks more like the shining star President Obama, Michael Bennet and others have held it up to be. If you have no opinion on the matter, have a listen. I doubt you'll feel terribly enlightened or swayed by either Ravitch or Alter. If you come down on one side or the other, then you'll probably feel your champion scored a knockout.