July 20

A proposal to include several courses in career and technical education as a graduation requirement for students in La Jolla was bitterly opposed by parents in the affluent district north of San Diego as detailed in this article from CALIFORNIA WATCH: http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/push-career-and-technical-education-meets-parent-resistance-17150

   The New York Times has a story describing how state budgets will remain in crisis even years after the current recession, which began in late 2007, ends: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/18/us/in-report-on-states-finances-a-grim-long-term-forecast.html?_r=3&ref=us
   Valerie Strauss takes a jaundiced look at a U.S. House Appropriations subcommittee that is planning to vote on whether a person with five weeks of training should be considered “a highly qualified teacher:”  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/does-5-weeks-of-training-make-a-teacher-highly-qualified-house-panel-to-vote/2012/07/17/gJQARodPsW_blog.html?fb_ref=sm_btn_fb&fb_source=other_multiline  Her piece makes reference to a funny article about Teach for America (TFA) in the satirical newspaper “the ONION” that you can read, in full, here: http://www.theonion.com/articles/my-year-volunteering-as-a-teacher-helped-educate-a,28803/?ref=auto  Nancy Kuechle sent out an article to the discussion group while the Chief Commissar was traveling about TFA.  It not only caught Nancy’s eye but even Diane Ravitch commented on it in her personal blog: http://dianeravitch.net/2012/07/19/a-wise-tfa-teache/
   Need some more to laugh about?  Stephen Colbert has a short video (5:22 minutes) skewering the Texas Republican Party Platform for opposing the teaching of “critical thinking skills.”  http://www.good.is/post/stephen-colbert-skewers-texas-gop-s-attack-on-critical-thinking/
   Did the federal stimulus law, passed by Congress in 2009, have any impact on education?  A new study from the Center on Education Policy (CEP) reported on in Education Week says “yes:” http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2012/07/do_not_publish_till_midnight.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+CampaignK-12+%28Education+Week+Blog%3A+Politics+K-12%29
   The Obama administration is proposing a new program to create a group of master teachers to promote excellence in teaching the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and math) across the nation: http://www.siacabinetreport.com/articles/viewarticle.aspx?article=2461
   A current math teacher at Palisades Charter High School takes a look at the issue of student cheating in an op-ed piece in Tuesday’s L.A. Times: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-dorff-cheating-20120717,0,6524981.story
   Is it the role of education to turn out “thinkers or test takers?”  That’s the partial title of an extended editorial in Sunday’s Times that compares what schools in the U.S. are turning versus what China is trying to achieve: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/education/la-ed-school-creativity-20120715,0,5690286.story
   Several months ago the “Ed News” reported on a story about students posting pictures of standardized test items on various social media.  With test results soon to be released, yesterday’s L.A. Times reports on how several schools and districts are reacting to the news that some of their students are involved: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0719-state-tests-20120719,0,7856207.story  In a follow-up story the Times details how several districts were not alerted to the fact that their pupils participated in the posting of photos: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/07/schools-not-told-that-test-questions-were-posted-online.html  A student who used to attend North Hollywood High (LAUSD) has been identified as one of the people who posted pictures online of test materials: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/07/former-north-hollywood-student-posted-test-items.html
   Today’s L.A. Times reports on two foundations that are providing grant money to help underprivileged students attend after-school programs that have been decimated by budget cuts: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-afterschool-20120720,0,490915.story
   How does the largest online school program (K12 Inc) stack up against similar charter and public schools?  The answer is its students “lag behind” on measures of achievement and graduation rates according to a new study from the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) highlighted in this article from the Washington Post.  It includes a link to the full report (65 pages): http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/students-in-k12-incs-online-classes-lag-academically-study-finds/2012/07/18/gJQAMdvPuW_story.html
   And finally, should California’s 8th graders be taught Algebra I?  There’s a lot of controversy around that question.  A committee appointed by the State Dept. of Education has been given the task of providing a definitive answer to that question along with helping to implement the new Common Core Math standards according to this item from EdSource: http://www.edsource.org/today/2012/state-to-adopt-common-core-view-of-algebra-i-in-8th-grade/18041
 Enjoy the warm (hot?) weather this weekend!

Dave Alpert (’71)
Chief Commissar

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