Some of the News Fit to Print
SYSTEM FAILURE: THE COLLAPSE OF PUBLIC EDUCATION
New York City officials openly admit that a high school diploma earned in our public schools today does not mean that a student is ready for college. In fact, 80 percent of New York public school graduates who enrolled in City University of New York community colleges last fall still needed high school level instruction—also known as remediation—in reading, writing, and especially math. Despite the department's proclamations, that percentage is up, not down, from 71 percent a few years ago. Algebra, which is a CUNY graduation requirement, is by far the most challenging for the city's public school grads: Just 14 percent pass the CUNY algebra placement exam. In an era of shrinking state funding, a flood of underprepared students is becoming a disastrous stress on the system. CUNY's community colleges have been forced to double their annual spending on remediation in just a decade, to $33 million. Faculty members have been transformed into de facto high school teachers. The article is in the Village Voice.
ABOUT HIGHER ED
WHY DO STUDENTS ENROLL IN (BUT DON’T COMPLETE) MOOC COURSES?
Less than 10 percent of MOOC students, on average, complete a course. That’s the conclusion of Katy Jordan of Open University, who published her analysis, pulled together from available data of some Massively Open Online Courses, or MOOCs. But do completion rates matter? It’s not that course completion rates don’t inform observers about the nature of MOOCs, said Michelle Rhee-Wise, who follows higher-ed developments in online and blended learning as an education senior research fellow for the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation (formerly Innosight Institute). But with no negative academic consequences from dropping out, that information is less about the effectiveness of the courses themselves, and more about the reasons people might be enrolling, she said. The article is in the MindShift blog.
ONE PRICE IN CALIFORNIA
California community colleges will not find an ally in their new system chancellor, Brice Harris, if they try to cope with crushing student demand by raising tuition for certain programs or courses. In an open letter to leaders of the system’s 112 colleges, Harris last month made clear that he is opposed to attempts at charging “differential tuition.” That includes the controversial two-tiered pricing structure that Santa Monica College proposed last year or the online bachelor’s track Coastline Community College has been developing with three public universities in other states. Harris said that such efforts, even if proposed for seemingly good reasons, go against California law and the deep commitment to affordable, open access at its community colleges. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
EXPERTS DIFFER ON ROUTE TO GETTING TALENTED TEACHERS TO MOST CHALLENGED SCHOOLS
In the ongoing struggle to boost student achievement, educational leaders should place a bigger emphasis on recruitment of talented teachers into the nation’s most challenged schools — and a “bar exam” for teachers would be a big help. So argued a scholar on educational leadership Thursday at the Center for American Progress for the release of a paper titled Getting the Best People into the Toughest Jobs. “Talent matters,” said Allan Odden, the paper’s author and director of Strategic Management of Human Capital, or SMHC, a project of the Consortium for Policy Research in Education, of which Odden is co-director. While the assertion that talent matters may seem like a straightforward proposition, Odden said talent hasn’t always ranked at the top of the nation’s education reform agenda in recent decades. Odden also argued for the need to “calibrate policy” and to get more people in America’s education establishment to see recruitment of talented teachers as “important stuff.” To recruit the best talent and manage the talent strategically, Odden said, metrics are needed to guide the management and to make important decisions about licensure, tenure, promotion, pay, dismissal and other personnel decisions. The article is in Diverse: Issues In Higher Education.
AN URBAN SCHOOL DISTRICT THAT WORKS — WITHOUT MIRACLES OR TEACH FOR AMERICA
To listen to some school reformers, you’d think there are no urban traditional public schools that are successful. Here’s a different story, adapted and excerpted from “Improbable Scholars: The Rebirth of a Great American School System And A Strategy For America’s Schools” (Oxford University Press), by David Kirp, professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He is a former newspaper editor and policy consultant, as well as the author of numerous articles in various publications and several books, including “Shakespeare, Einstein and the Bottom Line: The Marketing of Higher Education.” His new book, “Improbable Scholars,” tells the story of the public schools in Union City, N.J., where teachers do an amazing job of teaching high-poverty students without employing “miracle” reforms. The post is in The Washington Post’s The Answer Sheet blog.