Daily News Roundup, April 17, 2012

Perspectives: News You Can Use
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Some of the News Fit to Print

ABOUT HIGHER ED

CONNECT THE DOTS
Nancy L. Zimpher, chancellor of the State University of New York, writes in Inside Higher Ed: A plan in Connecticut to legislate the end of most remedial education courses in public higher education has once again raised questions about why so many incoming students are not prepared for college-level work and what can be done about it. To fully comprehend and effectively address the nation’s reliance on remediation, it is important to look at some basic facts surrounding the issue. We do not have a system of public education in this country. As a nation, we have yet to connect the dots between early childhood programming, kindergarten learning, elementary and secondary education coursework, and college curriculums. Until we do, the issue of remediation – and the excessive costs associated with it in every state – will carry on.

FOR-PROFIT ISN'T A MODEL FOR COMMUNITY COLLEGES
Daniel LaVista provides this commentary in the Los Angeles Times: Mark Schneider and Lu Michelle Yin, proponents of for-profit higher education, go on the offensive in their April 11 Times Op-Ed article and criticize public community colleges for our graduation rates, which do need to improve. I have no quarrel with that fundamental truth.  However, I do take issue with those who advocate for for-profit colleges, which have been publicly exposed for their own inadequate graduation rates. I hate to use the old cliche about glass houses, but Schneider and Yin are clearly throwing stones, particularly at those of us in the California community college system. As Schneider and Yin point out, for-profit colleges have come under much negative scrutiny in the last few years. But the authors' attempt to redirect it is not persuasive. Quite simply, it's important to consider the facts.


ABOUT K-12

SCHOOL TURNAROUND PUSH STILL A WORK IN PROGRESS
The federal program providing billions of dollars to help states and districts close or remake some of their worst-performing schools remains a work in progress after two years, with more than 1,200 turnaround efforts under way but still no definitive verdict on its effectiveness. The School Improvement Grant program, supercharged by a windfall of $3 billion under the federal economic-stimulus package in 2009, has jump-started aggressive moves by states and districts. To get their share of the SIG money, they had to quickly identify some of their most academically troubled schools, craft new teacher-evaluation systems, and carve out more time for instruction, among other steps. The article is in Education Week.

REFOCUS ON CLASSROOM INSTRUCTION, BROOKINGS URGES
John Thompson blogs in This Week in Education: The contemporary data-driven "reform" movement, fundamentally, is a theoretical bank shot, where in the name of "output-based" accountability non-educators'  change the subject away from teaching and learning in order to somehow improve teaching and learning.  "Choosing Blindly," by the Brookings Foundation's Grover Whitehurst and Matthew Chingos, is a reminder that the best way to improve classroom outcomes is to concentrate on the real interactions in the classroom and not some statistical models.  The better approach, all along, would have been to target the interactions between flesh and blood students, teachers, and the learning materials that they actually use.

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