I’d like to start off this week’s edition of Friday Ed Bites with a song.
Did you know that President Obama’s State of the Union was Tuesday night? He talked about education, and now reformers everywhere are abuzz. Citing the Chetty et al. study, asking states to require attendance until the age of 18, and a call for more school autonomy. . . no wonder people are reacting! The Quick & the Ed put together 7 responses to the SOTU. I’d like to call particular attention to Rick Hess’s response — his points are sadly true.
One last thing about the SOTU: apparently it was written at an eighth grade reading level. The break-down of his sentence structure was particularly fascinating. (Honestly, I wasn’t that taken with his speech. Though, I experienced the disillusionment of Obama when I first began to understand RttT.)
Speaking of middle schoolers, here is a selection of podcasts from eighth graders at Kempsville Middle School in Virginia Beach, Va. A heartbreaking reminder of the struggles of middle school.
In case you haven’t noticed, charter schools are (and will continue to be) a hot-button issue. Two recent pieces debate whether charter schools exacerbate neighborhood segregation. Bloomberg News published their piece in December, aptly titled “Segregated Charter Schools Evoke Separate but Equal Era in U.S.“. The second piece is a follow-up response from Joe Nathan, one of the first proponents of charter schools. His early ’90s book entitled Charter Schools is among the first cheerleader pieces for the movement. A word of caution: charter school proponents quickly rely on the underlying theory of charter schools in their rhetoric. Don’t take theory as action — many of the theoretical assumptions are never actualized.
If you have any interest in the role of technology in the classroom, you should read this Andy Rotherham piece. Yes, technology can help a student expand upon her learning, but should it ever replace the teacher? He even mentions the historical roots of supplanting teachers through new technology. Thank you, Andy. Thank you for referencing the history that Brill-style reformers love to forget. I could go on, but this isn’t meant to be a history lesson. Instead, I’ll just recommend David Tyack’s The One Best System: A History of American Urban Education. You’ll feel your preconceived notions shattering to the ground in front of you.
On the flip side, technology is a game-changer. Here are two pieces on Sebastian Thrun’s new online university, Udacity. (In case you don’t know, Thrun is the Stanford professor who, with Google’s Peter Norvig, offered a free online artificial intelligence class to 160,000+ students.) Choice quote from the NPR article: “Thrun says Stanford’s mission is to attract the top 1 percent of students from all over the world and bring them to campus, but Udacity’s mission is different. He’s striving for free, quality education for all, anywhere.” Nice work, Thrun.
That’s it. A few rambles, some contrasting opinions, and a little Lady Gaga. Now go forth and educate.