May 7

Happy National Teacher Appreciation Week!
“Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.” ― Albert Einstein
   Ever heard of the Bradley Foundation?  According to this article from The Progressive it is the biggest organization that funds charter schools and supports voucher programs in the U.S.  Their agenda is to privatize the public school system and everything they do and believe in flies totally under the radar of the media.  To find out what they do and how go to:  http://www.progressive.org/bradley-foundation-spearheading-assault-on-public-schools
   There are many valid criticisms of standardized tests.  The “Ed News” has tried to highlight as many of them as possible.  But this may be a novel one.  The author of this blog, a soon-to-be journalism graduate, maintains that the tests are patently unfair since students (people) think in divergent ways (educators all know this) and the exams seem to test only a certain style of thinking.  What do you think of her argument?  http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/299-190/17281-the-cookie-cutter-testing-trend
   Last week Randi Weingarten proposed that the Common Core State Standards be delayed for a year to give schools and teachers additional time to prepare for them.  On his blog for EDUCATION WEEK, Anthony Cody not only argues against that but offers a strong critique of the entire process and raises specific concerns about the type of assessments being implemented.  If you have a little extra time be sure to check out the animation (10:48 minutes) about what motivates people:  http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/2013/05/will_a_years_delay_save_the_co.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+LivingInDialogue+%28Teacher+Magazine+Blog%3A+Living+in+Dialogue%29
   Nowadays schools seem to be singled out solely for high test scores.  On Friday California recognized a number of schools for their physical fitness, arts and career education programs.  One school in LAUSD, the Renaissance Arts Academy Charter, was commended.  Several others in L.A. County were honored according to this item in yesterday’s L.A. Times:  http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-state-recognizes-area-schools-for-physical-fitness-programs-20130504,0,4582948.story
   This Long Beach Press-Telegram story highlights an interesting study by the ACT National Curriculum Survey that looks at very different perceptions of college readiness of incoming freshman by high school teachers and college professors.  The former believe that 89% of their graduates on well prepared for post-secondary work while the latter only see 26% as ready for college-level classes.  You can read the article about the study here:  http://www.presstelegram.com/news/ci_23178279/report-high-school-teachers-and-college-professors-differ?source=rss&utm_source=feedly
   With the standardized testing season in full swing the question of test security arises.  Last year California  discovered that a number of students posted pictures of different test items on various social media.  Many schools and districts have implemented new procedures to prevent this from happening again.  This piece from yesterday’s L.A. Times has the details: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-test-photos-20130506,0,7517057.story
   Thanks to Susie Smith for sending along this uplifting link.  Yesterday PBS began a series on innovative teaching techniques around the country.  The first, featured a middle school in Portland, Maine that uses a problem-solving integrated curriculum to teach science.  You can watch the segment (11:38 minutes) and/or read the full transcript here:  http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/education/jan-june13/learning_05-06.html
   When the “Ed News” first started it promised to report on the considerable froth in the field of education and it has labored mightily to achieve that goal.  This extended essay from EDUCATION WEEK surveys the state of education today and reviews many of the issues, personalities and policy conflicts that have and continue to stir the pot:  http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2013/05/08/30debate_ep.h32.html?tkn=PXPFjHSNLg95I2tLPzckLp8amOGp2jyNFa04&cmp=clp-edweek
   California Attorney General Kamala Harris is out with some startling new statistics on student truancy in the state.  Her figures indicate that almost a third of all students were classified as truant during the 2010-11 school year and that 40% of elementary pupils met that criteria.  She discussed this troubling issue, according to this story in the SI&A CABINET REPORT, in a strongly-worded letter to district superintendents statewide last week.  The article includes a definition of how and when California classifies a student as “truant:”  http://www.siacabinetreport.com/articles/viewarticle.aspx?article=3801
   Do summer enrichment programs have any educational value for students, particularly ones from low-income and minority families?  A new study of 3 such programs (one of which was in Los Angeles) answers a resounding “yes!”  EdSource provides the specifics:  http://www.siacabinetreport.com/articles/viewarticle.aspx?article=3801  You can read the full report (42 pages) titled “Summer Matters: How Summer Learning Strengthens Students’ Success” here:  http://g.virbcdn.com/_f2/files/d0/FileItem-285234-201213Summer_Matters_CaseStudy_STC.pdf
   Valerie Strauss reprints a blog from Mike Rose a professor at the UCLA Graduate School of Education responding to the op-ed from last week’s New York Times (highlighted in the “Ed News”) titled “No Rich Child Left Behind.”  He offers some of his own thoughts and experiences in his as equally provocative piece:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/05/07/leave-no-unwealthy-child-behind/
   And finally, Happy 150th Birthday to the California Teachers Association (CTA).  The organization, founded in May, 1863, as the California Educational Society had fewer than 100 members.  Today it boasts 325,000.  This brief item from EdSource marks the occasion:  http://www.edsource.org/today/2013/california-teachers-association-turns-150/31631#.UYmMHkHn_q6
Don’t forget this Sunday is Mother’s Day.
 
Dave Alpert (’71) Chief Commissar
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