August 23

The “Ed News” is out a day early to accommodate some weekend travel plans by the Chief Commissar.  The next edition should hit your in-boxes on its regular publication date of Aug. 28th.
   And now to the latest news.  Here’s an intriguing suggestion for lowering the unemployment rate in the U.S.–spend $20 billion on public education.  What do you think of the logic of that idea?  http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/11031-to-end-the-jobs-recession-invest-an-extra-$20-billion-in-public-education
   Several parents have joined a lawsuit filed by the ACLU against the Clovis Unified School District (Fresno County) claiming that the district’s abstinence only sex-education curriculum is not based on sound scientific evidence.  The suit further contends that textbooks used in the classes are in violation of state law.  You can read all the details in this L.A. Times story from yesterday’s paper: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-sex-ed-20120822,0,2353275.story
   Both Valerie Strauss and Diane Ravitch had posts on the 44th annual Phi Delta Kappan/Gallup poll, released yesterday, on American attitudes towards public education.  Valerie Strauss: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/poll-americans-views-on-public-education/2012/08/22/37203c5a-ebcf-11e1-aca7-272630dfd152_blog.html   Diane Ravitch: http://dianeravitch.net/2012/08/22/what-we-can-learn-from-the-new-pdkgallup-poll/  You can read the full report (18 pages) here.  The questions, answers and results are quite fascinating: http://www.pdkintl.org/poll/docs/2012-Gallup-poll-full-report.pdf
   Another (new) study raises the issue of whether 8th graders should be taking Algebra I.  This one was written by researchers from the California Dept. of Education and the UC Davis Ed Department.  Their report is highlighted in this article from EdSource.  It contains a link to the full study (16 pages): http://www.edsource.org/today/2012/another-study-questions-states-push-for-8th-grade-algebra/19289
   In the past week or so the “Ed News” has been following the fate of the revitalized state legislative bill AB 5 which would require negotiations between school districts and their teachers’ unions over the contents of new teacher evaluations.  That bill is scheduled for a vote in the State Senate this week.  If it passes it would go to the governor’s desk for approval or rejection.  Catch all the details in this piece from radio station KPCC: http://www.scpr.org/news/2012/08/22/33982/state-senate-could-weigh-teacher-evaluations-soon/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+893KpccSouthernCaliforniaNews-Education+%28KPCC%3A+Education+News%29
   The California Dept. of Education, yesterday, released the 2012 CAHSEE (California High School Exit Exam) results.  95% of the class of 2012 passed.  That’s an improvement of .8% from the previous year.  You can read the “Press Release” and all the accompanying data on their website: http://www.cde.ca.gov/nr/ne/yr12/yr12rel77.asp  An article in today’s L.A. Times discussed how students in LAUSD fared: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0823-exit-exam-20120823,0,5593398.story
   A couple of weeks ago the “Ed News” publicized (out of a sense of alarm) an ad for a concert called “Teachers Rock” that was promoting the upcoming pro “parent-trigger” film “Won’t Back Down.”   The concert was sponsored by the militantly anti-union Walmart Corporation and a right-wing entertainment company.  This commentary, from In These Times, takes a look at what the Aug. 14 concert was really trying to do to teachers and public education: http://truth-out.org/news/item/11048-walmart-right-wing-media-company-hold-star-studded-benefit-promoting-education-reform-film
   How many of you, in high school or college, stayed up late the night before to cram for an exam or to finish a paper or project that was due the next day?  Come on, admit it!  You know you did.  Did you realize that strategy was actually counterproductive?  A recently released study from UCLA used 535 students from 3 L.A. area high schools to conclude that giving up sleep makes it harder for students to understand material in class the next day.  Yesterday’s L.A. Times had the disconcerting details: http://www.latimes.com/news/science/la-sci-sleep-study-sacrifice-20120822,0,6937722.story
   A senior activity at Canyon High School (Orange Unified) in Anaheim Hills was cancelled after is was found to be demeaning to Hispanic students and to Latino culture according to a story in today’s Times: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0823-high-school-event-20120823,0,5135884.story
   An editorial in the same paper takes a look at the controversial issue of making it easier to fire teachers in light of the cheating scandal at the now-closed Crescendo charter schools.  It explains why due process for teachers is still fundamental and extremely important: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/editorials/la-ed-crescendo-charter-cheating-20120823,0,7087034.story
   Three letter writers to the L.A. Times reacted to the Sunday op-ed regarding the difficulty of retaining good teachers that was noted in Tuesday’s “Ed News:” http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/letters/la-le-0823-thursday-teachers-20120823,0,4920884.story
  America is facing a falling share of global college graduates and that bodes ill for our economic standing in the world according to a new study highlighted in this piece from ThinkProgress. The report analyzes data from the past decade and makes projections out to 2020. The effect of budget cuts to early childhood and K-12 education are also discussed: http://truth-out.org/news/item/11044-how-americas-falling-share-of-global-college-graduates-threatens-future-economic-competitiveness
   A new online poll from PACE/USC Rossier School of Education shows voter preferences for the two initiatives (Prop 30 and 38) on the November ballot that will boost state revenue and funding for schools.  The poll results are from the San Jose Mercury News: http://www.mercurynews.com/california-budget/ci_21374874/california-voters-prefer-gov-jerry-browns-tax-measure?source=rss  The poll also included attitudes on what is being taught in California schools and what are the goals of public schools which the SI&A Cabinet Report focused on: http://www.siacabinetreport.com/articles/viewarticle.aspx?article=2504
   And finally, on the lighter (and fun) side: the August 13 & 20 (double) issue of Newsweek contains its annual college rankings.  The magazine rates a number of schools on numerous categories, i.e., easiest, most stressful, top sororities, most liberal, most rowdy, etc.  In the “Most Beautiful” category at #6 (out of 25) was, none other than, OCCIDENTAL COLLEGE!  You can seen the rating and a great photo of Thorne Hall here: http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/galleries/2012/08/05/college-rankings-2012-most-beautiful-schools-photos.html#slide21  Oxy also rated #25 (out of 25) for “Most Liberal:” http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/galleries/2012/08/05/college-rankings-2012-most-liberal-schools-photos.html#slide2   You can check out the criteria for the “Most Beautiful category at http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/galleries/2012/08/05/college-rankings-2012-most-beautiful-schools-photos.html  For the “Most Liberal” http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/galleries/2012/08/05/college-rankings-2012-most-liberal-schools-photos.html   If you’d like to peruse the entire report, go to: http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/features/2012/college-rankings.html

 

 

Dave Alpert (’71) Chief Commissar

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