Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Top recent education headlines

On national education policy
Congress too split to revise No Child Left Behind, Rep. John Yarmuth says, Lousiville Courier-Journal
Saying that Congress it too dysfunctional to come to an agreement, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth said Monday he doubts the federal No Child Left Behind law will be revamped anytime soon.

Speaking at the “Kentucky Leads the Nation” roundtable in Shelby County, where educators and policy makers are working to help the state’s school districts navigate federal education law and challenges, Yarmuth said he can’t imagine the Republicans and Democrats coming together on the issue this close to a presidential election.

That means it is likely that Kentucky education officials will be relying on the federal Department of Education to grant a waiver if they don’t want to continue offering both state and federal proficiency tests to students. [...]

Column: Why DREAM Act is right for U.S., young people, USA Today
At Miami-Dade Community College's commencement ceremonies last month, 181 students marched across the stage, each carrying the flag of a different country. As each student stepped on the stage, individuals cheered for the flag that represented their heritage. But when the last flag went across the stage — the American flag — everyone applauded.

The scene reminded President Obama, who was there as the commencement speaker, of our national motto —E pluribus unum— out of many, one. The graduation is also a reminder that first-generation Americans are hard-working and understand the value of education. With degrees from Miami-Dade, some of those graduates will become nurses, IT professionals, and the next generation of entrepreneurs and business owners. Others will enroll in four-year universities and graduate ready to be teachers, engineers and leaders in their communities. By earning postsecondary degrees, they will earn 30% to 70% more than high school graduates. With that earning power, they will buy homes, cars and other goods to drive economic growth. [...]

On education access
Some thoughts about school and the struggles black kids face. Lots of folks with lots of experience have lots of opinions about what to do to better educate young African-American males. Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates recently offered yet another glimpse into the issue, suggesting in a piece for the website The Root that the need is dire, which of course it is.

But for many of us in education — and to my mind that includes parents, family and friends — the problem is more than knowing what's needed. It's knowing how to get it done and make it work, how to get young African-American men not only interested but engaged in learning, and enjoying rather than dreading the journey. That requires a lot of commitment from them and from us, and there are no shortcuts. [...]

On higher education
College price calculators may not paint complete picture, Seattle Times
When the annual college search season gets under way this fall, parents and students will have a new tool at their disposal.

By the end of October, the nation's colleges and universities will be offering net price calculators on their websites, providing an easier way to compare attendance costs from one school to the next. At least, that's the goal of the federal law requiring the calculators.

Most higher education experts like the idea behind the new rule, which should give students and families a better idea of college costs much earlier in the game. But they also see potential for problems with the fledgling rule. [...]

Even for Cashiers, College Pays Off, New York Times
ALMOST a century ago, the United States decided to make high school nearly universal. Around the same time, much of Europe decided that universal high school was a waste. Not everybody, European intellectuals argued, should go to high school.

It’s clear who made the right decision. The educated American masses helped create the American century, as the economists Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz have written. The new ranks of high school graduates made factories more efficient and new industries possible.

Today, we are having an updated version of the same debate. Television, newspapers and blogs are filled with the case against college for the masses: It saddles students with debt; it does not guarantee a good job; it isn’t necessary for many jobs. Not everybody, the skeptics say, should go to college. [...]

If you're feeling behind in the national debate over whether college is still "worth it," here's a quick refresher:

Opening arguments
FOR: The more education you have attained, the more likely you are to be employed and earn a higher salary.

AGAINST: College is too expensive, the pay-off is too risky, and the learning experience is woefully inadequate.

FOR: If college is so worthless, how come 86% of grads say that college has been a good investment for them personally?

AGAINST: The college payoff has hit a wall. Graduates are seeing slowing wage gains even as the cost of college is increasing four times faster than wage growth. [...]

On education reform
School Reform, Chicago Style, Wall Street Journal
CHICAGO—At 7:15 on a chilly May morning, Marshall Metro High School attendance clerk Karin Henry punched numbers into a telephone, her red nails clacking as she dialed.

"Good morning, Miss MeMe," she said to Barbara "MeMe" Diamond, a 17-year-old junior with a habit of oversleeping. "This is Ms. Henry, your stalker."

The timing of the call was key. Earlier in the year, Ms. Henry and a co-worker were spending nearly two hours a day calling every student who hadn't checked into school by 9:30 a.m. But weekly data tracked by their office found that only about 9% of those students ever arrived. So they changed tactics, zeroing in on habitual latecomers like MeMe, and delivering wake-up calls starting at 6:30. On that May morning, 19 of the 26 students called showed up. [...]

On school funding
Supreme Court to hear arguments on school funding, Seattle PI
CHIMACUM, Wash. (AP) — Stephanie McCleary has known about the disparities between rich and poor school districts for most of her life, how cities with a robust local tax base can pay for fancy microscopes and video cameras and the newest laptop computers, while small towns like Chimacum — where she works and her kids go to school — can't afford window blinds or parts to fix classroom heaters and may need a grant to buy a new battery and pads for a donated portable defibrillator.

She was 13 years old when the Washington Supreme Court decided the state was not fulfilling its duty to the children of Washington by forcing school districts to use local dollars to make up for the money they weren't getting from the state. More than 30 years later, the mother of two school-age children has her name on a similar case about to be heard by the state's highest court. [...]

In Lean Times, Schools Squeeze Out Librarians, New York Times
Budget belt-tightening threatens to send school librarians the way of the card catalog.

The schools superintendent in Lancaster, Pa., said he had to eliminate 15 of the district’s 20 librarians to save full-day kindergarten classes.

In the Salem-Keizer school district in Oregon, all 48 elementary and middle school librarians would lose their jobs under a budget proposal that faces a vote next week.

In Illinois’s School District 90, which spans several rural and suburban communities in the southern part of the state, parent volunteers have been running the libraries in the district’s seven schools since September, in what the schools superintendent, Todd Koehl, described as “a last-ditch effort” to avoid closing their doors. [...]

Friday, June 17, 2011

Give BIG June 23

The Alliance for Education and The Seattle Foundation team up for the GiveBIG Challenge

On June 23, 2011, there's an exciting event that will amplify the impact of your gift to us.

GiveBIG is a community-wide giving challenge created by The Seattle Foundation that will increase the size of your donation to us.  This new, one-day, online charitable giving event will rally together our community on behalf of the amazing nonprofit organizations in King County
Mark your calendar! Donate to the Alliance for Education between 7 a.m. and midnight on June 23.

Thank you in advance for giving big. With your help we can ensure that all students in Seattle Public Schools are prepared for college, career, and life.

PS: You can learn more about GiveBIG online at