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FY09 Budget Proposal Might Be Out A Little Early

Oreo013008 There's rumors on the Interwebs that the USDE unintentionally revealed its proposed FY09 budget proposals a few days ahead of time, though I can't vouch for any of it. Click below to see what's rumored to be proposed on Monday.  Make of it what you will. Thanks to them who sent this. Fun!

UPDATE:  Here is the spreadsheet with the FY09 figures still "hidden" it, courtesy of the eagle-eyed Jason Sakran at the Committee On Education Funding.  Sakran apparently was first to spy the USDE's mistake and post the news on CEF's website and to its members last week, which is how it got spread around.  Smart guy that he is, Sakran kept a version of the old spreadsheet, which has the new numbers.  [Remember, though, that these are totally unofficial and unconfirmed.  Could be just a Spellings plot to make you waste time this weekend.] Note to self: join CEF.

Download department_of_ed_state_by_state_funding_with_an_unofficial_fy2009_estimate.xls

Continue reading "FY09 Budget Proposal Might Be Out A Little Early" »

Spellings, Jessica Alba, & The Polar Bear From Golden Compass

Jessalba0129I'm still looking for pics of EdSec Spellings at the SOTU for you check out, but in the meantime thanks to readers for sending in these close-but-not-quite submissions (interpretations?) of the Spellings outfit:Polar_bear_2

On the left, you have the polar bear from Golden Compass.  This one seems a little harsh.  Spellings looked scary that night, but not quite so ferocious.

On the right, that's starlet Jessica Alba at the Sundance Film Festival (I think). Again, not quite a fair comparison, though the high-necked design does have a resemblance to the Spellings outfit. 

Facts Of The Union 2008

Troubled still by the President's assertion that NCLB is working? The folks at FactCheck.org say that he's not all wrong:

Bush2007sotu"He was mostly correct in describing progress in test scores since his No Child Left Behind Act was passed, but he overlooked some recent backsliding in reading scores and the fact that some test scores were on an upward trend before the new law went into effect." 

Harsh.  Click here (Facts of the Union 2008) for more details.

UPDATE:  Over at NPR, Larry Ambramson has something to say that many of you will like hearing better:

"Many educators dispute the effectiveness of No Child Left Behind NCLB . Teachers in particular say they re being asked to meet unrealistic standards, and have demanded more flexibility.... [Bush] didn't mention that reading scores in those grades have stagnated, despite No Child Left Behind...What he did not say is that the achievement gap between whites and minorities remains very large."

Link: NPR: Bush Lauds Progress in Iraq, Economic Plan

Alliance Bingo

Bingo The Alliance for Excellent Education (no idea) is determined to make a week out of the President's State Of The Union speech tonight, first by demanding that education be a big part of his speech (it won't) and second by encouraging us to play SOTU Bingo (sure, why not?).

Click below for the Alliance's talking points.  Click here for the Bingo thing (via Fritzwire).

Extra points for anyone who can explain what the Alliance is, how it's different from all the other education groups in DC, and why we need it.

Continue reading "Alliance Bingo" »

Don't Forget NCLB, Says Spellings -- Off To Davos

0de91567901aa7fc66d57b302ebbbe344d1A few days ago EdSec Spellings sent a letter out to the state education chiefs (Download letter.tif) telling them that the USDE is going to explore legal remedies -- no word on a specific route of appeal.  Foregoing Sundance this year, Spellings is nonetheless headed to Davos, Switzerland for the annual confab of economic powers and thinkers.

Here Come The State Of The Union & The New Budget

It's just three two weeks until the (last) GW Bush state of the union and the rollout of the FY09 budget, but this year there won't be the usual line of folks waiting for their copies of the budget documents, says Fritz of the Fritzwire:  "For the first time, hard copy versions of the Administration’s budget proposal will not be available to the public, but will be accessible in a paperless “E-Budget” format online at www.budget.gov. The online version will be fully searchable and available for downloading."

Where In The World Is Margaret Spellings?

Secretary Spellings is headed West this week for a slew of Washington, Oregon, and California events, according to her press folks:

CarworldWednesday, January 16: 8 a.m. PST Secretary Spellings and Governor Gregoire will host an education policy roundtable with, state legislators, educators and business leaders at Roosevelt Elementary School.  A media availability will follow. OPEN PRESS Olympia, Wash.

Thursday, January 179 a.m. PST  Secretary Spellings will deliver remarks on No Child Left Behind before the Oregon State Board of Education at the Public Services Building.  A media availability will follow. OPEN PRESS  Salem, Ore. 10:45 a.m. PSTSecretary Spellings will visit Auburn Elementary School with Oregon Superintendent of Public Instruction Susan Castillo and tour classrooms, visit with students and teachers and deliver remarks at a school assembly.  A media availability will follow. OPEN PRESS Salem, Ore. 1:10 p.m. PST Secretary Spellings will host a Hispanic Roundtable with local Hispanic leaders at the Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. OPEN PRESS Portland, Ore.

Friday, January 18: 10:30 a.m. PST Secretary Spellings and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will tour classrooms and visit with students and teachers at Otay Elementary School.  A media availability will follow. OPEN PRESS San Diego, Calif.

"A Profound And Uncomfortable Transition"

EdSec Spellings gave a speech today on NCLB, including the lines:

We’re in the midst of a profound and often uncomfortable transition. ..Today, we’re taking an honest look at our schools. ..We have to ask, which comes first, politics or kids?

I'll try to get video or audio of the speech, or someone's description of the event.  In the meantime, you can click below to see the full text, as written. 

There's also a new(?) webpage from the USDE called Mapping The Nation's Progress, which includes state- and national-level data from the past six years of NCLB. I'll give a dollar to anyone who can compare how states do on the USDE site to how they do on the EdWeek report that's just out, Quality Counts.

Continue reading ""A Profound And Uncomfortable Transition"" »

Bush Teaches Chicago Students How To Figure Out Volumes & Surface Areas

Bush_blackboardFrom this picture, it almost looks like President Bush is teaching class. Imagine:

"Now, class," said President Bush as he strode to the other side of the blackboard. 

"Pay attention.  Like I explained yesterday, here's what you need to know about calculating volumes and surface areas."

Then, a moment later:  "Xavier, give Tesha her pencil back."

Bush To Celebrate NCLB Anniv. In Chicago...And Eat Pizza

Deepdishpanpizza This is so delicious it's hard to believe it's true.  According to the Tribune's Washington DC blog, President Bush is coming to Chicago on Monday to celebrate NCLB's many achievements -- and enjoy some pizza.  I guess Chicago has become sort of mecca for NCLB implementation?  How this decision got made, I have no idea.  It's going to be a week after the Iowa caucus and the day before the New Hampshire primary.  I guess going to New York City is out for political reasons.  White House press secretary Dana Perino joked that the motivation for the visit was to have some deep dish.

"Put Your Big-Girl Panties On," Says Spellings

Slogans_spellings_3 EdSec Spellings makes it to Number Four on Time Magazine's list of T-Shirt Worthy slogans for 2007 with this instruction apparently given to incoming White House spokesperson Dana Perino on the occasion of her getting the job.

This sounds to me like a female, Texas version of the now-ubiquitous instruction that is given to "man up."

Of course, there are many women who man up more often than men, and several men I can think of who really need to put their big-girl panties on. 

Clean Up NAEP Variations Before Giving It More Work

Frisbee15150The NY Times editorial page jumps into education waters with this strangely mis-timed clunker on national testing (Test and Switch).  In it, the Times calls for various baby steps towards a rigorous and comparable national test -- a NAEP-created test offered to states, a national list of states using weak homegrown versions.  That's all well and good, I suppose, except for the fact that NAEP is having its own uniformity and rigor problems.  According to the NY Sun and... no one else ...  some districts are handing out NAEP accommodations like those cheap Frisbees they give out when a new bank branch opens on the corner. Maybe NAEP should handle that one before we give it a broader scope of work?  Or maybe I just woke up on the wrong side again.

"Porn-Named" USDE Staffer Heads North

MysterypersonHe isn't the first, and he won't be the last. 

What high-level communications guru with what Wonkette readers once called a "porn name" is leaving the USDE for the Big Apple? 

Check here at the new wiki page for communications folks to find out -- and feel free to add or correct or edit anything you'd like. 

You communications people move around like hummingbirds, always jumping to the next best job. 

Where's Margarita?

BonnOur travel-loving EdSec (apparently known to her boss as "Margarita") is off to Germany this week, with public events in Bonn on Wednesday and Thursday. 

"Wednesday, November 21 3:40 p.m. CET  Secretary Spellings will deliver remarks at the Ministerial Panel on "Relevance and Quality – What are the Challenges?" during the Third Ministerial Meeting on Education of the Broader Middle East and North Africa (BMENA) countries and the Group of Eight (G8).  On Thursday, November 22 9 a.m. CET  Secretary Spellings will be attending the Third Ministerial Meeting on Education of the Broader Middle East and North Africa (BMENA) countries and the Group of Eight (G8)." 

Germany in November -- is that a trip all her staff want to go on (side trip to Berlin!) or no (week of Thanksgiving!).  I'm thinking no.

Urban NAEP Scores Coverage

Want to know how the major papers covered the release of the urban NAEP scores yesterday?  Here you go:

2007_mr_tuda_2Urban students' scores improve AP
National praise for ATL test scores AJC
Students up in math, but not reading LAT
National data show Chicago students lagging Tribune
Little Progress for City Schools NYT
Scores on Urban NAEP Inch Up EdWeek

Broken Embargo: Early Urban NAEP Scores*

Rosalindrussellmame1109_2The new urban NAEP scores aren't supposed to be out until later this morning, but there's at least one story out already on the new results:

City Students Stalled on National Education Tests NY Sun
In the city, 41% of eighth-graders cannot perform basic reading, up from 38% in 2003, the first year scores were reported, and above the percentages in Houston and Chicago, 37% and 39% respectively. On the math test, 43% of eighth-graders scored below basic, compared with 46% in 2003.

The full results for 11 districts will be out later, and the EdSec is doing an event in Atlanta.  No, that's not a depiction of her in the poster.

*Apparently the embargo wasn't broken.  Under the somewhat made-up sounding rules of journalism, an embargo is only good if both sides agree to it ahead of time.  (That is, if you send me something under embargo but I haven't agreed ahead of time, the embargo is no good.)  Not it! 

International Ray Simon Week

Ray_simonOfficially, it's International Education Week.  But as this official schedule shows (see below), it's really Ray Simon week.  The deputy secretary must've drawn the short straw to get roped into all these events.  Or maybe Spellings does that "heads, I win -- tails you lose" thing. 

Continue reading "International Ray Simon Week" »

NAEP Goes To Atlanta

AtlantaThey're announcing the urban NAEP scores this week on Thursday morning and the EdSec is doing an event in Atlanta, one of the 11 cities participating in this pilot now in its 4th year (http://nationsreportcard.gov/.).  Watch out, teachers and parents from Venetian Elementary School.  Here she comes.

National Standards A "Giant Time-Waster," Says Spellings

Spellings "I don't think the way to do it is a one-size-fits-all national standard that morphs into a national curriculum that morphs into national textbooks," says EdSec Spellings in this US News interview. 

"It's the wrong way to go, and it's a giant time-waster."

I'm actually a proponent of national standards, and pushed for them mightily when I worked in the Senate for Jeff Bingaman.  But the politics are all wrong on this right now. 

Veto Threat Over NCLB Reauthorization

It seemed like it was coming, what with Spellings hinting at it last month and all the fun that's been had over the SCHIP veto. And this President has never lacked for confidence, warranted or not. So, yesterday, the President said he'd veto any effort to reauthorize NCLB without maintaining its main provisions (President Bush Discusses The Budget):

"We're teaching a child to read so they can pass a reading test....I believe in local control of schools. That's up to you to chart the path to excellence. But it's up to us to make sure your money is spent wisely...I believe this piece of legislation is important, and I believe it's hopeful, and I believe it's necessary to make sure we got a educated group of students who can compete in the global economy when they get older. Yes, sir."

Bush's No-Name Cabinet

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Slate magazine recently ran this piece about how unknown most of Bush's cabinet are, even compared to other unknown cabinets (A Bush Cabinet quiz). Much of it is due to the fact that, so late into a second term, only the most desperate opportunists are clamoring to join the Administration. The other, according to the article, is that so much of Bush's domestic agenda (such as it is) came from Karl Rove, not the DPC (currently headed by Karl Zinsmeister) or the departments themselves.

Spellings Spills To National Journal

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There's not much that's really new or interesting in too many education stories these days, but not so in National Journal's Q and A with Secretary Spellings from Friday (Improving on '99.9% Pure' $$). In an interview with reporter Lisa Caruso (pictured), Spellings mocks multiple measures as do-it-yourself school reform, says that more money for NCLB will only come with a new iteration of the law, walks back from earlier statements about preferring current law to the Miller proposal, declines to apologize for the infamous Ivory Soap remark, and explains the origin of her Bush nickname. That's good stuff. The only thing missing from Caruso's piece is an in-depth analysis of what Spellings was wearing. (The black pantsuit? The big broach?) Find a friend who has a subscription. Related post here.

President Announces New NCLB Strategery

From the White House NCLB event going on right about now:

"Secretary Spellings and I are so pleased to welcome you all to the Roosevelt Room. With us today are a group of concerned citizens from a variety of groups, here to discuss the No Child Left Behind Act. People around this table care deeply about making sure every child gets a good education. We're deeply concerned about school systems that don't focus on each individual. Some school systems are just moving kids through, and as a result, our education system is letting too many children down, too many families without hope.

"So we're going to strategize [see, he almost said it] and work together to make sure the No Child Left Behind Act is reauthorized and made stronger. And so I want to thank you all for coming. I love your passion. I appreciate the fact that you care deeply about the future of this country, and that you believe, like I believe, every child can learn and we have an obligation to teach every child how to read and write and add and subtract.

"So thank you for joining us. We'll see you all in the Rose Garden here in a minute."

White House NCLB Event Later Today

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I don't know who the attendees are yet, but the President and the EdSec are doing a White House event on NCLB today in the Roosevelt Room, followed by a Rose Garden statement by the Prez. Stay tuned. Could be fun. Feel free to email snarky comments or fashion tidbits if you're there. That's what BlackBerrys are for. (thisweekineducation at gmail dot com, or 312-286-9242)

George W. Bush Was "Mainstreamed," Says Conservative Columnist

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Everyone hates conservative columnist Ann Coulter right now (she recently joked that perhaps women shouldn't get to vote). But she did write something a little funnier in her new book: "“President George W. Bush is evidently the first mentally retarded person to get a Harvard M.B.A., graduate from the U.S. Air Force Flight School, be elected governor of Texas and then be elected President of the United States twice. I Guess that's what they call 'mainstreaming.'” Yikes.

Will Universal Preschool Get "S-CHIPed"?

Universal preschool is going to be education campaign issue Number One, says Richard Whitmire (Preschool) based on all the proposals out there. Many would agree with him. But the recent Presidential veto of the S-CHIP shows that it might not be so easy to get something done. President Bush vetoed the S-CHIP on the grounds that it doesn't focus on the poorest kids who already have preschool and creates a major new "entitlement" program. Of course, politics play a part and Bush will not be there in the future, but the struggle shows just how difficult it is to get new programs created even when little kids are involved.

SecState Rice Visits Harlem School

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"The secretary and the veteran Democratic congressman made a bit of an odd couple in the school, also known as the Harriet Tubman School, which is in his district, just steps from his local office...But to hear her explain it, the success of schools is as much a part of national security as, say, negotiations with the Iraqi government." (From Capitol to Halls of the Nation’s Future NYT)

Where's Spellings?

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In China, of course -- not in time to help the women's World Cup team (they lost on Friday to Brazil) but rather to help out with that whole Special Olympics thing.

Plural Speech Gaffes For Bush

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As if the President's mis-statement ("Childrens learn") yesterday wasn't enough, a draft of President Bush's speech to the U.N. General Assembly was posted online with phonetic spellings and other markings that weren't supposed to be seen by anyone outside the administration (Thanks to Bush, bloggers are hooked on phonics USA Today).

"Childrens Do Learn," Says President In Latest Education-Related "Bushism"

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The Washington Post would probably not have written about the Bush education event today in New York if Bush hadn't yet again mangled the English language. During the event, he reportedly said "Childrens do learn" -- a reworking of his famous 2002 Bushism "is our children learning?" ( No Child Left Behind Is Working). Via Eduwonk.

NAEP Scores Vs. Little Rock

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It's a tough call, I guess -- stay in town and spin the news about the latest NAEP scores that are out today, or go to Little Rock to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the beginning of school integration? Well, Spellings is staying in town, and Deputy Secretary of Education Ray Simon is going to Arkansas. Not that the EdSec doesn't like herself some travel, of course. Later this fall she's scheduled to go to Shanghai for a Special Olympics shindig.

No More "Federal Building Number 6"

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First they renamed National Airport in DC as Reagan National. Now the USDE administrative building in Washington has been renamed after President Lyndon Baines Johnson (yes, the same guy who got the Space Center named after him, too). Soon, you'll be hearing folks saying, "See you over at the LBJ Building." Or, "The meeting with the Secretary has been changed to 10 am at the LBJ Building." Read all about it here. Via the FritzWire.

Spellings Rocks Cleveland -- Gets Good Press

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There seems to be no end of the positive press that EdSec Spellings is able to muster, even now with her efforts to revamp NCLB seemingly in shambles. Here Washington Whispers -- which only last week reported that she was going to run for Governor in Texas -- mysteriously decides that a ho-hum trip to Cleveland is worthy of not only a mention but an illustration.

Neil Bush's School Scam: The "Other" USDE Scandal

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"An independent watchdog agency has asked the Department of Education to investigate why President Bush's younger brother, Neil, has received money earmarked for the president's signature education initiative to sell a curriculum program that has not been subjected to the rigorous evaluation it deserves," according too this story (Why is Bush's kid brother getting federal bucks?). "CREW says nearly $1 million has been spent on the systems in 16 school districts, mostly in Texas, where George W. Bush served as governor before his election in 2000, and Florida, where brother Jeb Bush is governor."

Spellings Playing For A Stalemate?

Read all the way to the end of this NPR piece (Hill Panel Ponders Future of NCLB) and you'll see first word I've heard of that Spellings is saying she'd rather have the current NCLB than the Miller draft. Saber-rattling? Maybe. But for those who are most worried about multiple measures and all the rest, it's going to be a serious consideration.

Can Spellings Stay Focused?

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A few weeks ago, word was that she was being sought to head the University of Houston (Spellings For President). Now the rumor is that she wants an even bigger Texas job (Governor Spellings?). Next week, who knows? None of it's likely to pan out, and -- fun as it is to speculate -- it doesn't help her do her job if everyone's focused on where she's going next.

Spellings Urged Early Rumsfeld Firing, Book Says

Way back at the beginning of 2006, EdSec Spellings was apparently called into the Oval Office to give counsel on what to do about former Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld -- and she recommended his termination, according to this book excerpt sent in by a friend. Who knew? Not that it made much difference. He resigned the day after the November elections. But at least we know she voted the right way.

Still Spinning The News On His Way Out The Door

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Karl Rove is still pushing NCLB during his farewell tour, even though the stats he cites have been widely challenged and the political support for NCLB has shifted. “Rove said he believes history eventually will vindicate Bush. As one example of the reason, he cited improvements in reading and math scores since the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act — a piece of legislation that even leading Republicans now view as flawed."

Meanwhile, Yahoo News dredges up this overview of where other Texans from the early Bush years have gone (Departures diminish Texas flavor at White House). Who's next?

More Departures: McLane Out At USDE Press Office

Today is Katherine McLane's last day as Press Secretary for the EdSec, she says. Heading back to Austin to work for the Lance Armstrong Foundation is the given reason. Time to go may be the implicit one. Interim press secty will be Samara Yudof. Mclane was in the job just over a year, according to this press release. Want to know more? Check out her astrology reading from Capitol Weekly. Congrats, condolences to McLane and Yudof.

Spellings For President

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...University of Houston president, that is. From an eagle-eyed reader I learn that the Houston Chronicle is trying to draft her into the search for a new head of the school (Margaret Spellings our nominee for UH chancellor-president). "The Chronicle's editorial board, which includes four UH alumni, thinks the best qualified potential candidate is a University of Houston graduate, as well as the highest ranking federal education official..." She is "well-respected by both Republicans and Democrats, public school officials and teacher union leaders. She understands the full spectrum of public education, from preschool to graduate study, and recently proposed the administration's Plan for Higher Education, which aims to improve accessibility and affordability of college education."

Spellings Off To UNESCO

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"The President intends to nominate Margaret Spellings, of Texas, to be a Representative of the United States to the 34th General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, for the duration of the conference." (Personnel Announcement)

The Two Margaret Spellings

On your left, you have US EdSec Margaret Spellings -- complete with pearls, flag in the background, and that cute smile with her tongue. On your right, you have the somewhat frumpier Simpsons version of the Secretary, who looks (like many Simpsons characters) a little transgendered. Sorry, Madame Secretary -- it was the best I could do.

EdSec Wants More "Pocket Protector" Skills

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According to this press release, EdSec Spellings thinks employers wants more kids with "pocket protector" skills, which means (a) geeks, (b) people who know not to put inky pens in their pockets, (c) something having to do with pocket pool, or (d) all of the above.

Here's the quote: "Employers today need workers with 'pocket-protector' skills, creative problem-solvers with strong math and science backgrounds," said Secretary Spellings. "The more students we train to be entrepreneurs and creative problem solvers, the more jobs they'll create, and the greater ability they'll have to improve the quality of life for others."

Spellings & Rove, Sitting In A Tree? As If.

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Thinking she was going to talk student lending or something, EdSec Spellings instead got some surprise questions about her former suitor, Karl Rove, from the Washington Post editorial board -- a conversation that eventually led to her tearing up (though not over Rove, thankfully (A Pop Quiz for the Education Secretary (Washington Post)).

Rod Paige, Beauty Contest Judge

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What to do if you're no longer the Education Secretary and can't judge schools anymore? Judge beauty contests, of course. In Mississippi. That's what Rod Paige is doing these days, according to this Sun Herald story (Miss Heritage is the new Miss Mississippi). Better to judge than be judged, I guess.

Aspen-Bound EdSec

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Early summer in Aspen is not a bad place to be, so it's no surprise that the EdSec is going to be there this week, ostensibly for an Aspen Institute confab on the 5th and 6th -- one session on education, and the other on women in politics. Nice work if you can get it.

Briggs Nominated & Confirmed For USDE Post

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I'm not sure why anyone would want to stay in the USDE so late in the game and when the chips are down as they are now, but I guess some people are loyal that way and a promotion doesn't hurt. Congrats, condolences, per usual.

Over-Reacting On Deseg Implications?

Maybe those legal affairs correspondents went a little overboard about the deseg case last week, says Jeff Rosen in the Sunday NY Times: Can a Law Change a Society?

Citizen's Commission On Supreme Court Decision: Deseg Not Outlawed

Here's an email from CCCR honcho Dianne Piche that highlights the idea that yesterday's decision doesn't make it illegal or impossible to promote school integration:

"All programs that consider race in order to foster diversity have NOT been outlawed. The votes were 5-4 against the Seattle and Louisville school districts AND 5-4 in favor of legal principles favoring diversity. This so-called “split court” is not unlike the famous “Bakke” decision in the late 1970s, where the Court struck down an affirmative action policy with respect to admissions to the University of California-Davis medical school, while at the same time setting forth legal principles enabling some forms of affirmative action to be preserved."

Read the full email below [a letter to Piche's grad students].

Continue reading "Citizen's Commission On Supreme Court Decision: Deseg Not Outlawed" »

Students Explain Torture Letter Delivered To President Bush

Watch three of the 50 Presidential Scholars who signed and delivered a letter to GWB during the Monday NCLB event:

Or, if you're more into text, read an explanation of what happened and why here.

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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.