[ECP] K12 Newsletters Headlines and Resourcses

  • From: "K.E." <admin@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: K12NewsLetters@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 02 Apr 2010 10:04:29 -0500


Happy Reading


Student Privacy and Higher Education When it comes to your student's personal 
information, who's in charge? Citizens have lost Control over their children's 
information. Thanks to the 1974 federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy 
Act schools are allowed to sell (designate as public record) as much student 
data as they want to directories, yearbooks. Student data warehouses exist in 
at least 20 states. Statewide data systems that could be linked are on the way.

On March 12, the Texas Board of Education put forward a series of changes to 
the state's history and social sciences curricula whose "overall effect, if the 
changes are approved in May, will to be to yank public education to the right," 
writes The Economist. Salient among these is that Thomas Jefferson, in the 
words of the magazine, has "gotten the boot," since he is "suspiciously 
secular." Milton Friedman and Friedrich von Hayek will join Adam Smith, John 
Maynard Keynes, and Karl Marx in the annals of economics, and the politically 
unpopular terms "capitalism" and "free market" will be replaced with "free 
enterprise" -- which The Economist finds "inexplicable." The proposed changes 
have elicited national concern, since Texas is one of the country's largest 
textbook markets and therefore accommodated by scholastic publishers. It is 
quite clear, says The Economist, how the proposed edits came about. Over the 
years, Republicans have worked to "stack the deck" with social conservatives. 
School board elections are small-money races -- "a clever bit of political 
strategy, and Democrats could do it too if they put their mind to it." In the 
meantime, even some Texas Republicans are growing weary of the board's antics, 
with several of the farthest-right members ousted in favor of less-far-right 

Two features have regularly marked the history of U.S. public schools, writes 
education historian Diane Ravitch in an op-ed in The Los Angeles Times. One 
"big idea" has often captivated policymakers and the public, offering a "sure 
fix" to problems facing the education system. Again and again, the "miracle 
cure" doesn't work. We are at one of these junctures, she thinks, dominated by 
the widespread notions that school choice, test-driven accountability, and the 
resulting competition will radically improve student achievement. Ravitch 
concedes she once adhered to these beliefs, but has since been persuaded by 
empirical evidence these reforms do not work. Undeterred, and with a 
"confidence bordering on recklessness, the Obama administration is plunging 
ahead, pushing an aggressive program of school reform -- codified in its 
signature Race to the Top program -- that relies on the power of incentives and 
competition." Ravitch reiterates the common criticism that charters are not 
compelled to take all comers, and predicts their proliferation, along with 
performance-based pay for teachers, will lead to a survival-of-the-fittest 
education system: "If our goal is to destroy public education in America, this 
is precisely the right path."
Read more: 

A new way of teaching physics ­ developed by a Bergen County teacher ­ could 
offer a solution to American students' poor performance in math and science. 
Goodman, New Jersey's 2005 teacher of the year, developed the curriculum in his 
Teterboro classroom. A fast-talking former audio company engineer, he was 
attracted to the idea that schools have taught sciences in the wrong order for 
generations. More than 20 times as many students in his classes took and passed 
the Advanced Placement physics test as is typical for New Jersey. Goodman 
partnered with colleges, unions and high schools to create a curriculum that 
could be easily adapted to any classroom.

A new report from the Center on Education Policy (CEP) finds that girls now 
perform as well as boys on state math tests, but boys consistently trail girls 
on state reading tests, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. "In no state in 
the country are boys doing better than girls in reading at the elementary, 
middle, or high school level," said Jack Jennings, CEP's president. "It is a 
clear and unmistakable trend." Researchers examined math and reading tests 
given in all 50 states between 2002 and 2008, focusing on differences in actual 
scores as well as proficiency levels between genders at the fourth, eighth, and 
10th or 11th grades. The shift in reading performance raises questions about 
classroom changes over time, says Susan Neuman of the University of Michigan, a 
former assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Education. She pointed to 
an emphasis on storybook-type reading and a reduction in physical activity in 
elementary schools as two factors that could disadvantage boys, who tend to 
prefer nonfiction and have energy that is best channeled into exploratory 
activities. "I think we need to re-evaluate our curricula, re-evaluate how we 
are managing our classrooms," Neuman said.

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