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Standardized Childhood? Rifts In Universal Pre-K

standardized childhood.jpgThe universal pre-K juggernaut is facing a few rifts, according to this EdWeek story (Scholars Split on Pre-K Teachers With B.A.s and Richard Colvin's post in Early Stories calling Bruce Fuller the bete noir of universal pre-K. Fuller is just putting out a book called Standardized Childhood. As both pieces point out, the seeming unanimity surrounding the idea of universal pre-K leaves out key programmatic and -- even more important -- ideological issues.

Previous Post: The Coming Pre K Quality Crunch

Cloning Charters, And Letting Parents Pick Principals

D299.jpgCheck out what's going on in America's heartland, which includes the defeat of a bill to allow current charter schools to "clone" themselveswithout violating the charter cap in Chicago, as well as ongoing debate surrounding local school councils and their right to choose principals. New York City may not have community school districts anymore, but parents, community members, and a couple of teachers give principal contracts in Chicago, and have since 1988. It's amazing, and messy, and currently under seige.

Make That 13 States With Computerized Testing

computer based testing2.JPGEdWeek's Technology Counts, just out yesterday, shows that computerized testing like that Oregon was using before its troubles with Vantage Learning has been relatively slow to spread (Tracking U.S. Trends): "The number of states that offer computerized statewide assessments is relatively small, with 14 states making that opportunity available on a limited basis, such as within certain districts, or for students retaking pencil-and-paper tests. And only nine states offer computer-based testing to all students."

Make that thirteen.

Morning Round-up March 30, 2007

Study gives teachers barely passing grade in classroom USAT
The findings, published today in the weekly magazine Science, take teachers to task for spending too much time on basic reading and math skills and not enough on problem-solving, reasoning, science and social studies. They also suggest that U.S. education focuses too much on teacher qualifications and not enough on teachers being engaging and supportive.

Many Illinois schools dodge federal warning list
Almost 300,000 reading and math tests taken by Illinois students in 2006 weren't counted because the state relaxed a rule under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, allowing some schools to dodge a warning they were failing.

Child Wants Cellphone; Reception Is Mixed NYT
Should you get your 8-year-old his or her own cellphone? The trend is growing, but not without a lot of anguish among parents.

All NewsBlast, No Gadfly -- Plus Some Equity

As of Friday morning, the Forhdam Gadflies must still be perfecting their usual April Fool's wit. In the meantime, check out the latest PEN NewsBlast, which includes stories about kids being separated by race for assembly, more about how to transform low-performing schools, the usual provocative quotes and useful grant announcements, and -- most interestingly -- findings of a panel on education and American democracy: "Both Democratic and Republican pollsters reported that education is indeed a top priority of voters. However, other concerns, such as the war in Iraq, creating affordable health care, and protecting the environment compete for public attention."

Feeling empty? One weekly not enough? Click below for the EdTrust's Equity Express, which is (I think) email-only.

Continue reading "All NewsBlast, No Gadfly -- Plus Some Equity" »

Teen Tanning Is The Latest Thing States Are Banning

teentan3.jpg"No smoking. No drinking. No talking on cell phones while driving. Now, the latest no-no in state laws aimed at underage teens is indoor tanning,"begins this Stateline.org story (States say no to teen tanning). "Spurred by worries about skin cancer, Utah and Virginia this year joined 25 other states in placing limits on teens seeking a bronze glow from the ultraviolet lights of a tanning bed. North Dakota's Legislature is putting the final touches on a measure to also clamp restrictions on tanning salon patrons under age 18."

New Feature Slated For Tomorrow: The Month In Review

march_2007.gifWhat have been the biggest education stories of March? Who have been the month's biggest winners and losers? What have been the most over- and under-reported stories? What's coming up next month?

These and other mysteries will be addressed in tomorrow's "Month In Review" roundtable, in which three real live journalists -- the NY Times' Diana Jean Schemo, USA Today's Greg Toppo, and the Chicago Tribune's Stephanie Banchero -- will share their ideas and observations.

Accountability Isn't Just For Schools, And Students

In telling the horrifying story of a student who'd pushed through all sorts of obstacles but was killed just before graduation, yesterday's Sam Freedman column in the NYT (here) is essentially a reflection on the meaning of accountability both inside schools and outside. "Jeffrey had proved accountable to the state by passing the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. But what about the accountability the state had to keep Jeffrey alive?"

Extended Learning Reality Check / Roundup

extended learning.gifExtended learning is all the rage these days, but as these posts and articles collected by contributor Regina Matthews illustrate, folks in the field aren't necessarily buying it: School districts discuss longer years (Year-Round Schooling Recommended Salt Lake Tribune) and days (Longer Day For Young Pupils? Pittsburgh Leader Times). But kids don’t like it (Students Decry Extended School Year Maine Morning Sentinel), and some adults aren't sure it's effective (Summer Academics Not Always a Good Idea, Professor Says Newswise). Among bloggers, American Thinker thinks those plans are just punishment ( A Longer School Day? ).

The $8.5 Billion Master's Degree

master's degree.jpgOver at The Quick And The Ed, Kevin Carey says that salary increases for Master's degrees make up roughly $8.5 billion per year in costs to school districts that most seem to agree doesn't help kids learn more (A Question for Teachers Unions). Via Eduwonk.

Another Set Of Experts, Another Set Of Predictions

"With Congress beginning to wade into the turbulent waters of reauthorizing No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the Title I Monitor asked five of the nation’s top education experts and policy wonks to evaluate the leading proposals submitted thus far." (Experts Weigh in on NCLB Reauthorization)

Why Research Goes Unused

AERA_07-Web.jpgHow to get more good research out to the public and to educators in the field is an important and vexing issue. Over at Paul Baker's Education PR blog, Baker (Communicating research) mentions what I hope will be a useful and engaging session at AERA that the Tribune's Stephanie Banchero and I (among others) are going to be at. I'm also doing a session later in the week about how policymakers (don't) use education research. [Apologies to Baker for getting his name wrong the first time out.]

Morning Round-up March 29, 2007

Out-of-Favor Reading Plan Rated Highly EdWeek
Reading Recovery, a popular one-to-one tutoring program that Bush administration officials sought to shut out of a high-profile federal reading program, has gotten a rare thumbs-up from the federal What Works Clearinghouse.

No Child law faces medley of changes
States are among the chief stakeholders clamoring to leave their stamp on a new version of the education law, which has riled some state lawmakers and educators to the point of rebellion over its costs, penalties and unprecedented federal oversight of school policy.

2007 All-USA Teacher Team USAT
USA TODAY seeks 20 teachers, both individuals and instructional teams, to honor as representatives of all outstanding teachers. Members of the 10th annual All-USA Teacher Team will be announced in October 2007 and will be featured in USA TODAY. Each teacher receives a trophy and a $2,500 cash award — $500 for the teachers and the remainder to the school for use as designated by the teachers.

More Obama-CAP Connections

cassandra butts.jpg
Little did I know last week (Think Tanks Battle For Candidates' Ears) that the Center on American Progress has so many Obama ties to go along with its obvious Clinton connections (ie, John Podesta). Newest on my radar is Cassandra Butts, a CAP domestic policy guru who is moonlighting as an Obama advisor on her personal time. "Yes, there is a healthy competition among the think tanks to gain the ear of presidential candidates," writes Butts in an email earlier today. "And CAP is well positioned to participate in those conversations." I'll say. Forget Hillary -- how are the other think tanks supposed to compete with that?

The Choking Game

choking game.png
The NYT gives a big writeup (Teenager Casts Light on a Shadowy Game) to "the choking game" (also known as The Fainting Game, Airplaning, Dying game, Sleeper Hold, Space Cowboy, Space Monkey, Suffocation Game, Suffocation Roulette according to Wikipedia). It's nothing new, but may be spreading (isn't everything?) via YouTube. Click below for a news video about a San Antonio student who died doing it.

Continue reading "The Choking Game" »

Sedaris Fabricated Stories, Including About School

david-sedaris.jpgClick here for news about how humorist David Sedaris may have done more than exaggerate his supposedly nonfiction stories, including one about how an elementary school in Raleigh set up a program "cynically designed to identify and cure young homosexuals by erasing their lisps."

Apparently it's not true, and the New Republic published a story about it last week called "This American Lie: A midget guitar teacher, a Macy's elf, and the truth about David Sedaris." Not that The New Republic has always been so great on facts.

WSJ Reporter John Hechinger: New Face, Familiar Name

05hechinger.jpgThere's a new Hechinger in town, or at least new to me. He's John Hechinger, who's been covering education for the Wall Street Journal for two years now (John Hechinger) and has already won some awards for his coverage.

If the name sounds familiar, that's because the Hechinger Institute at Columbia University runs seminars and briefings for education reporters, and is named after a famous NYT education editor, Fred Hechinger. Apparently, John's father. Nice.


"CREDIT THE No Child Left Behind Act for this: It helped to reveal how little learning was going on in many classrooms, especially those with poor and minority students," begins this LA Times editorial (Son of No Child Left Behind). "This is no small accomplishment. Still, the law has not yet achieved its key goals...Flaws in the law have held back real educational progress and unfairly placed blame on public-school teachers for everything but the weather."

Internet Predator Tactic Works Better For Journalists Than Gonzalez

I guess that whole Internet predator stuff only works so long, if you're an embattled US Attorney General (Gonzales Runs Out Of Conference To Avoid Scandal Questions). Would that the same were true for newspapers and TV newscasts, which insist on freaking us out all the time with the same tactic. Maybe the Internet predators are preying on all those abducted children from a decade ago. Remember them?

Illinois Goes For Broke On AYP Avoidance Strategies

Apparently not content with being the last state in the nation to turn around its 2006 test scores (they came out at roughly the same time that kids were taking the 2007 tests), Illinois has made the news again for jimmying with student eligibility criteria in ways that generally help schools pass AYP (State uses test loophole). No, it's not the subgroup size loophole -- that's so 2006. It's the date of enrollment loophole, which Illinois moved back to May 1 of the PREVIOUS year. Nice. Result? Thirteen percent of scores not counted, or 283K kids (one in four African-American kids), 53 schools made AYP that otherwise wouldn't have. Chicago Tribune.

Morning Round-up March 28, 2007

States Again Weighing Proper Enrollment Age for Kindergartners EdWeek
Lawmakers in at least three states are debating whether to move the cutoff deadline for kindergarten eligibility to an earlier date so children will be at least 5 years old when they start school.

Rural schools prepare for proposed cuts
An emergency spending measure would provide $400 million nationwide for one year, but it’s tied into a contentious Iraq war funding bill that requires President Bush to bring combat troops home next year. The Democratic-led House approved the bill Friday, 218-212, despite a veto threat from Bush.

Trying to Disarm the Dangerous World That Students Live In
Jeffrey Johnson took the standardized tests that Florida requires for promotion and graduation. He scored in the 93rd percentile in reading and the 95th in math. That same semester, he earned straight A’s. Days before commencement, at the age of 17, he was shot to death at a party during an argument about his car.

Valid And Reliable Education Coverage?

2006_11_scantron.jpgFollowing up on his efforts to debunk the Times' Reading First story, D-Ed Reckoning takes aim at the Post's recent article on testing (Round up the anti-testing nutters). "WaPo is really giving NYT a run for its money for the goofiest education articles as of late."

Agree or not with his views on testing, it's hard to argue that the piece (by Valerie Strauss) includes an expert or researcher who has anything good to say about testing. Not that I have any idea who that would be (nominations?). But at least the story identifies FairTest appropriately. So that's progress, of sorts, I guess.

Seven Years For Shoving A Hall Monitor

28359756.jpgApparently news in the Chicago Tribune of a high school student in Texas being given up to seven years in jail for pushing a hall monitor has generated quite a reaction (see here).

"A 14-year-old black girl from the small Texas town of Paris, was sent to a youth prison for up to 7 years for shoving a hall monitor at her high school. A 14-year-old white girl, convicted of arson for burning down her family's house, was sentenced by the same Paris judge to probation."

How Reading First Is Like Gonzalez-Gate

Maybe Colvin was right. Reading this headline from Jim Romenesko's MediaNews site (US attorneys scandal intrigues journalists, but not the public), I can't help but think about the Reading First scandal. Like "Gonzalez-Gate," Reading First may in the end be more interesting to some (education insiders) than others (mainstream journalists and the public).

Even if the public isn't that interested, at least Gonzalez-Gate is interesting to reporters and their editors. Despite recent coverage from the Times and most recently AP, the story hasn't exactly taken off like education stories sometimes do. (Just last year, there was the AYP "loophole" story, remember? Ah, those were the days.)

Previous Posts: What Makes A "Real"Education Story?, Reading First Defenders, Unite, Reading First Finally Makes It As A Mainstream Story, Lessons From Reading First: No One Cares About Local Control Anymore.

Sometimes I Just Can't Believe What I'm Reading

eia_logo_small.jpgOver at EIA, Mike says he likes my Hype Warning System, which I appreciate.

"I need something similar for stories I read this week," he says (Sometimes I Just Can't Believe What I'm Reading). "Maybe a scale of 1 to 4 eyeballs popping out of heads, or double-, triple-, and quadruple-takes."

Mayoral Control -- What Happens Next?

To me, the most interesting point made in this impressive USA Today roundup of mayoral control from last week (More mayors move to take over schools) is the reminder that mayoral control has risen during a time of unusual mayoral longevity. What happens in places like Chicago and Boston and New York when City Hall isn't occupied by the same person for a long period of time? It's a good, though not immediate, question.

What Passes For Journalism

I've got nothing against any of the three blogs mentioned in this Fast Times article about "front of the class" education blogs. The three -- 2¢ Worth, Moving At The Speed Of Creativity, and JoanneJacobs -- are all good blogs. But the article (here) written by Michael Prospero is just so slim and shallow it's frightening. I should talk, I know.

Education's Ethanol

ethanol2.jpgThere was a guy on last night's PBS News Hour (President Urges Ethanol Cars) making the case that, when it comes down to it, ethanol is a mighty weak strategy for energy conservation -- -- a highly subsidized, but ultimately too weak a solution for the underlying problem.

This made me wonder, what's education's version of ethanol -- propped up by government or private subsidies but ultimately too small or weak to get the real job done? I'm guessing lots of ideas and programs come to mind.

Morning Round-up March 27, 2007

School strives to provide safe haven USAT
A troubled kid who straightened out after less than a year at the school, Vic was on track to graduate and study accounting. Last fall, in USA TODAY's first story on Talent Development, he cited the school's "positive peer pressure" as helping him finally get focused on school.

Tennessee Lawmakers Push to Restore Civics Education to School Curriculums WaPo
Since the federal No Child Left Behind law was passed in 2002, schools have focused on reading and math, and that has squeezed out other subjects like arts, music and civics, educators say. So lawmakers in Tennessee and other states have proposed bills this year to save civics.

Many teachers see failure in students' future USAT
In all, 23.6% of public school teachers at all levels say success in college would elude most students in their school. An additional 18% say they aren't sure.

Milken Education Empire Getting Bigger

Though the title of this NYT story (Milken Wants to Sell Stake in His Education Company) makes it sound like Michael Milken is getting out of education, actually he's just bringing more people in -- to the tune of $1B in new investments, half of which is already in hand according to the article. Knowledge Universe, the private -sector education group Milken runs, owns KinderCare and has a big stake in Nobel Learning Communities.

Getting "UnSpun"

Tired of not knowing what to believe and suspecting that you're being manipulated? Me, too. Oh, you mean about all those think tank reports? I thought we were talking about something else. Read FactCheck.org's new book, UnSpun, which tells you how to know when you're being spun, and what to do about it. Like they say, "you're entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts."

Reform-Minded Union Leader Named To Broad Board

broad foundation.jpg
Like them or loathe them (I know people on both sides), give credit to the folks at the Broad Foundation for at least trying to address what's going on at the core of the education machine (political leadership, district leadership, school leadership). Give them credit, too, for this week naming maverick SEIU president Andy Stern to their board of governors, along with Rod Paige. See here for a good overview from last year in EdWeek. See below for the full press release.

Continue reading "Reform-Minded Union Leader Named To Broad Board" »

"Citizen Journalism" At Work On The Education Beat

For the second time in recent months, the folks who read and comment on my Chicago blog have -- with very little help from me -- surfaced some serious problems going on in a school. Both times, it started with an email from a reader raising a concern or posing a question for discussion on the blog. Both times, the participants themselves -- the teachers, parents, and administrators directly involved -- have ended up writing in to relate their experiences. Check it out here. For some background on crowdsourced journalism, link here. Or for more on citizen journalism, here's the Wiki entry.

Sometimes, at least, teachers, parents, and community members can get to a story earlier and in more depth than already-stretched professional reporters. But I'm not sure they can pull it all together into any coherent shape, or push it forward. Is any of this happening where you are?

Business-Minded Blog Joins The Fray

Those of you interested in the business side of education may want to check out Marc Dean Millot's new blog, Edbizbuzz. He's taking a business look at NCLB reauthorization proposals, and has interesting and controversial things to say, like Big Grant to KIPP Houston Dooms Charters to the Margins.

Monday Morning Blog Round-Up

We check them out ... them so you don't have to:teen sex.jpg

Deadbeat Parent Mugshots Coming To Pizza Boxes Huffington Post: Customers at some suburban pizza parlors are getting something extra with their pepperoni and mushrooms.
Kennedy on NCLB AFT Blog: So why would Sen. Kennedy write this op-ed now?
Fooling the College Board Inside Higher Ed: An MIT professor coached student on how to get a good score on a lousy essay -- and pulled it off.
Associated Press Series on Unions Mike Antonucci: There's something for every viewpoint here and well worth the time to read them all.
Here's what teen sex really looks like Get On The Bus: That spider web at the top of this post is teen sex.
Charter Lotteries Eduwonk: There is a long two part debate about how public charter school admission lotteries (the random selection mechanism for over-subscribed schools) should be.
Accountability and Head Start Early Stories: I'd like to see a story done this spring that tells me how the NRS actually works in practice, by going out and observing the administration of the test.
Keeping the customers captive Joanne Jacobs: Some 15,000 children applied for 5,000 slots for new charter students [in Illinois].
Whole-wheat lunchroom Hall Monitor: “If they want certain kinds of food for their children, why don’t they pack their lunch?” she says.

"The Craze That Overtook The 5th and 6th Grade"

thisAmericanLife.jpgOnce in a while, strange little crazes start in schools, often making adults crazy in the process. Showing his roots as an education reporter, This American Life's Ira Glass included a segment about a video-making craze that overtook one set of kids in the show's video premier, which aired last week. Not surprisingly, the craze turned out badly, and the grownups had to step in. It's shown here for free: Video: embedded. I think you can also watch the full segment online here.

Morning Round-up March 26, 2007

Experts: Testing companies "buckling" under weight of NCLB CNN.com
A handful of companies create, print and score most of the tests in the U.S. and they're struggling with a workload that has exploded since President Bush signed the education reform package in 2002.

Failing Schools See a Solution in Longer Day
States and school districts nationwide are moving to lengthen the day at struggling schools, spurred by grim test results suggesting that more than 10,000 schools are likely to be declared failing under federal law next year.

To Be AP, Courses Must Pass Muster WaPo
The College Board, publisher of college-preparatory exams, is auditing every Advanced Placement course in the nation, asking teachers of an estimated 130,000 AP courses to furnish written proof by June 1 that the courses they teach are worthy of the brand.

Poor Behavior Is Linked to Time in Day Care NYT
A much-anticipated report from the largest and longest-running study of American child care has found that keeping a preschooler in a day care center for a year or more increased the likelihood that the child would become disruptive in class — and that the effect persisted through the sixth grade.

The Week In Review (March 19-25)

Who's On Your Hitlist?
Peppermint & Stinky Shoes
The Wisdom Of Children (In Three Parts)

"Bloody Claws" -- Impressions Of NCLB's Logo
What Educators Can Learn From "American Idol"
american idol.png
School Reform May Go Better Out Of The Limelight
Former USDE Deputy Sec. Turns Self In, Pays Up
Where's Maggie?
Think Tanks Battle For Candidates' Ears

State Supe Says Testing Co. Threatened State
More Hearings Than You Can Shake A Stick At
GOP Hopefuls ore Supportive Of NCLB Than Others

ed_gl_nclb_logo new.gifMEDIA WATCH
Sex Predator Scare Tactics Not Just For Journalists Anymore
NCLB Is Falling Apart, Again. Not.
The Return Of The Hype Warning System
In Praise Of Education Journalism
Exit Exam Database, 1977-2007

Think Tanks Battle For Candidates' Ears


This notice from the Center on American Progress Action Fund reminds me that the Center, like pretty much every think tank and advocacy outfit in town, is vying for visibility and at least the appearance of influence over the Presidential candidates and their positions. ("Look, candidate X has proposed something like what we told him or her to!")

However, contrary to early impressions (mine, at least), it seems like CAP is not just going to be Hillary's shop. Obama and staff have participated in CAP education events, as well. Which makes sense, given all the Clintonistas and experience they have over there (Cindy Brown, et al). But that means that other folks (Brookings/ Hamilton, CEP, Alliance4Ed, New America, Ed Sector) may have to fight tooth and nail to be in the game. To the extent that there is a game. Or I'm totally wrong.

Previous Posts: Battling Democratic Think Tanks: EPI vs. Brookings, Not Another Center-Left Think Tank. and Piling On The Democratic Think Tanks.

Where's Maggie?

I'm not entirely sure what to make of it, but I'm hearing that EdSec Spellings' agenda for this morning includes not only her public appearance and speech at a big teachers conference in NYC but also a private meeting on technology, ed tech, and competitiveness issues, which haven't really been her strong suit. If you're there, and bored, snap a pic of the proceedings on your cameraphone or send us a text message at thisweekineducation@gmail.com

Who's On Your Hitlist?

"On MySpace three weeks ago, one student told anyone who cared to read, “I made a hit list.” The student added, “It was so fun to write their names down saying I want them dead.” Readers took turns guessing the names on the list." From Hitlists, a disturbing but generally hype-free NYT article that explores the topic while making clear that there's not much correlation between the lists and actual violence. Below is an example: hit list.jpg

Exit Exam Database, 1977-2007

state hs exams.gif

Check it out -- Sherman Dorn has found the State High School Exit Examination database -- looks very useful. From a quick look at the map of who has and doesn't have them, it seems like midwestern and plains states have resisted the exams, which are common south, west, and to some extent in the NE.

Sex Predator Scare Tactics

It's not just newspapers and TV news that like to use scare tactics to scare and distract us with stories about kids and sex and drugs. According to this from the Huffington Post, embattled AG Al Gonzalez is going to "talk with local media in dozens of cities Friday about keeping kids safe from sexual predators." Conveniently, this means getting out of DC (Gonzales PR Strategy).

In Praise Of Education Journalism

There's not a lot of praise out there for the hard work that education reporters do, so here's Mike Antonucci in praise of a couple of education stories:

Scott Elliott and William Hershey of the Dayton Daily News examine the conventional wisdom that school district consolidation saves money, and conclude the savings are ephemeral.

Alison Kepner of the Wilmington News Journal looks at efforts in Delaware and elsewhere to create a teacher career ladder that doesn't lead to administration.

Morning Roundup March 23, 2007

State Takes Control of Troubled Public Schools in St. Louis NYT
A spokesman for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Jim Morris, said the three-member panel was expected to run the district for the next six years, although the State Board of Education could elect to extend the panel’s term indefinitely.

NY battles student loan kickbacks CNN.com
Last week, Cuomo announced that an investigation into student lending practices, spanning hundreds of colleges and at least six lenders, found that lenders routinely paid kickbacks to colleges and their employees for steering business their way. These are among several practices that may violate state law, Cuomo said.

More States Raise Dropout Age to 18 NPR
A growing number of states are raising the high-school dropout age to 18. Supporters say the new laws will reduce the dropout rate. But some educators fear the measures will be ineffective, while costing the schools more money.

A Week In The Life Of Chicago Schools

crains story.gifThree big issues in and around Chicago these days are whether to ban "cloned" charter schools -- spinoffs and other campuses created to get around the 630-school charter cap (Banning Cloned Charters), whether a local columnist went too far in bashing local school councils for their occasional troubles running schools (Did The Tribune's Eric Zorn Go "Agley" In Criticizing Local School Councils?), and the resentments of public school parents when private school parents try and get their kids into elite public high schools (When Private School Parents Go Public).  See picture, right.

Click on a link to see the details, or go to District 299 for more than you could ever want to know.

GOP Hopefuls More Supportive Of NCLB Than Others

Scroll down today's edition of The Hill and you'll see an interesting little bit about where the GOP presidential hopefuls stand on NCLB (GOP candidates divided on No Child Left Behind), which points out that, in contrast to some House Republicans, the main GOP contenders (McCain, Romney, and to some extent Giuliani) are much more "muted in their criticism of what has been heralded as one of the Bush administration’s flagship achievements."

Morning Round-up March 22, 2007

Bill Would Protect Against Cuts WaPo
Virginia Sens. John W. Warner and James Webb introduced legislation yesterday to protect the state's schools from Bush administration threats to withhold millions of dollars in aid in a clash over federal testing rules.

Utah heats up over long-simmering school voucher debate
For one thing, the law has hurdles to clear: Opponents have launched a petition drive to postpone it and let voters decide the issue in 2008; legal challenges are also likely.

Gates Foundation to Give D.C. Students Push to College WaPo
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will announce today a $122 million investment to create a new crop of high school and college scholars among some of the city's poorest and lowest-achieving students. It is the foundation's largest investment to date in D.C. education and one of the largest grants it has made for education.

NCLB Is Falling Apart, Again. Not.

Having lived through the last five years of "sky is falling" news about NCLB's imminent demise -- look back and you'll see it's been about to fall apart since almost the beginning -- I'm deeply skeptical about the premise of Gail Russell Chaddock's Christian Science Monitor piece ('No Child Left Behind' losing steam).

To be sure, NCLB isn't winning any popularity contents. But it never really did. Moreover, the piece leaves out just how awkward it would for many Republicans to buck their President and explain why they voted for NCLB in the first place. There's lots of jockeying going on, which I'm sure Gail knows but doesn't get into the piece. Speaking of which, giving a prominent quote to the Fordham Foundation's Checker Finn, who's currently flopped against NCLB (and had an awkward time of it), doesn't do much for me and should have been flagged.

Peppermint & Stinky Shoes: These Smells Don't Go Together

You know it's a slow week when nobody can resist peppermint and stinky feet stories:

peppermints.gif"A middle school in Maryland is using a unique method to help kids do better on their tests" (School Backs Peppermint for Student Alertness NPR). I think they got it from here: "Along with smart teaching, careful preparation, a good night's sleep and a full stomach, peppermint candies are said to improve test performance" (The power of peppermint is put to the test Wash Post).

"Thirteen-year-old Katharine Tuck's sneakers smell as bad as they look. Now, the Utah seventh grader is $2,500 richer because of it" (13-year-old wins rotten sneaker contest AP).



Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in This Week In Education are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.