Let’s start the journey through this week’s education news with an amazing tumblr: My Hipster Teacher. While I often mock the small handlebars and tight jeans, I do appreciate a teacher whose students think he’s so cool that they started a tumblr for him.
Virginia’s governor, Bob McDonnell, is making waves with his new education reform proposals. Of particular interest to me is the repeal of the King’s Dominion law, which requires schools to begin after Labor Day. Ok, so that’s not really the most juicy reform proposal. It also includes bits on charter schools, online classes, and merit pay. Here is the Virginia Schools Insider’s post on the proposals, and here is the governor’s news release.
Here are two NYTimes articles that relate directly to the recently proposed reforms in Virginia: one examines the Idaho requirement that all students take online classes, and the other looks at how a bad charter got its approval — from the federal government. Say whaa? While reading the piece on online classes, it’s important to know that studies of innovation in schools repeatedly find that even among “innovative” charter schools, classroom practices rarely change.
(True story: I’m a Virginian at heart. True story: here’s another Virginia education blog.)
Here are some education failures. You think college is expensive now? This study puts the price tag in 2034 at a steep $422,000. Teachers in Georgia tried to incorporate history class into math class. The results were math word problems that reference slavery. Score one for a national curriculum? Staffers at a school in the Bronx are calling for the removal of their principal after he made comments about having sex with a computer and a photocopier. Nice work, principal! There’s also this morsel of a failure — a library sent the police to collect a five-year-old’s overdue books! Let’s not stop there. A student in Texas was shot and killed by police when he pointed a gun at them in his school’s hallway. If you were curious, it was a pellet gun. Dicey.
It would appear that the education reform world rang in the new year with a heavy focus on value-added (VA) estimates and the impact of financial incentives. A new study was just published that attempts to measure the impact of a teacher on adult outcomes. (I had the opportunity to listen to a talk that Rockoff, one of the authors, gave on this study. It’s truly fascinating and incredibly complex; no wonder the study has made such a splash.) And, the interblag has exploded. Shanker Blog has two recent guest posts from Ellie Fulbeck, a Penn GSE professor who wrote her dissertation on ProComp, the Denver VA program. These two posts are a great way to get a handle on the history of VA programs and the resulting evaluations.
Then, there are the other billion responses to the Chetty, Friedman, & Rockoff study. The tone of this response highlights the tension that exists between those who study education reform academically and those whose opinions are formed based on anecdotal evidence. Dismissing either side in its entirety is foolhardy, and (to me) makes it that much more important that social science academics learn to better disseminate their findings.
This post on School Finance 101 examines the Chetty et al. study from an academic perspective, but uses very little jargon. Three cheers for Bruce! (Read this post — it summarizes the findings then analyzes them.)
Gary Rubenstein took the study’s release as an opportunity to critique (and try to dispel) the oft-cited “three great teacher” rule. His piece is long, but worth reading if you’re interested in learning the origin of that pesky phrase.
And with that, we ring in the spring semester of 2012. Here’s to 16 weeks of charter school research!