Friday, September 2, 2011

Reading Room: In defense of public education

Public education, higher, middle and lower, is under siege. I'm old enough to remember reading "Why Johnny Can't Read" (Time, 1955), but the current fever pitch reaches new levels: rants, critiques, conflict and conflicting solutions multiply. Johnny still can't read, yet there is still no agreement on the why or the how. If that was a problem in middle school, imagine Johnny in college now because, ready or not, everyone is supposed to go.

New this round are two game changers.  One is disruptive innovation in the form of advances in communication technology, learning analytics and sophisticated algorithms for learning software touted as capable of supplanting teachers or at least reducing the number needed. The other is the economy shrinking education funding. See the connection?

Enter conflicting solutions and the players bearing them ~ the tech team vs the traditionalists or New School vs Old School.
Into this atmosphere and on the heels of more tech and admin oriented studies, think tanks and conferences, come other groups representing various configurations of K-12 teachers, parents, college students - and the faculty brigade ~ teachers, unions, professional associations ~ demanding a voice. So emerges the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education supporting quality higher education according to these principlesThere will be a conference in Boston come November, not long after Campus Equity Week. You're invited to both.

Stay tuned for details. Now, do your homework, reading about education. There will be more. 

Nicole Stelle Garnett and Margaret F. Brinig (Notre Dame): Catholic Schools, Charter Schools, and Urban Neighborhoods. John Bellamy Foster (Oregon): Education and the Structural Crisis of Capital: The U.S. Case. Ready for kindergarten: Should the U.S. rethink what the first year of school should provide? Diane Ravitch, the Anti-Rhee: Michelle Rhee went from DCPS to national crusader — along the way, a 72-year old historian became her top critic. 
review of The Same Thing Over and Over: How School Reformers Get Stuck in Yesterday’s Ideas by Frederick M. HessAn interview with John Marsh, author of Class Dismissed: Why We Cannot Teach or Learn Our Way Out of Inequality. A review of Uneducated Guesses: Using Evidence to Uncover Misguided Education Policies by Howard Wainer. The World’s Schoolmaster: How a German scientist is using test data to revolutionize education. An interview with Tony Wagner, author of The Finland Phenomenon: Inside the World's Most Surprising School System. From Wired, a look at how Khan Academy is changing the rules of education (and more). 

From New Politics, Megan Behrent writes in defense of public education. Do superintendents and principals see librarians as more expendable than other school employees, and if so, why? Firing Line: Joanne Barkan on the grand coalition against teachers. Ed schools’ pedagogical puzzle: New models for teacher preparation are thinking outside the box — are they too far out? An interview with grand coalition against teachers

Ed schools’ pedagogical puzzle: New models for teacher preparation are thinking outside the box — are they too far out? Super teachers alone can't save our schools: Extraordinary educators are rare and often burn out — to save our schools, says Steven Brill, we have to demand more from ordinary teachers and their unions. A review of Class Warfare: Inside the Fight to Fix America's Schools by Steven Brill (and more). Felix Salmon on why it doesn’t matter where your kid goes to school (and more).

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