Poor reporting?

There’s a lead article in today’s Times describing Arne “meet the new boss, same as the old boss” Duncan’s plan to move towards closing schools as a new type of federal reform.

I have a lot to say about the feasibility of such a program — it would only work with massive financial incentives, incentives which would then flow into the hands of district administrators whose financial track record is hardly proven — but what was striking about this article is that neither the reporter nor Duncan mentioned where these schools are and which children would be affected.

There’s no mention of race or class in describing poorly performing high schools (for that matter, there’s minimal mention of how you’d define these schools: I’m sorry suburban family, your high school didn’t send enough kids to Yale this year) so it elides the fact that any program would necessarily be about Philadelphia, New York, LA: the big school districts that serve primarily poor children of color.

Categories of Thoughtfulness

Re-discovered this study by Fred Newmann on high school social studies classes.

The “six key indicators of thoughtfulness” are as follows:

1. Classroom discourse focuses on sustained examination of a few topics rather than superficial coverage of many.
2. The discourse is characterized by substantive coherence and continuity.
3. Students are given sufficient time to think before being required to answer questions.
4. The teacher presses students to clarify or justify their assertions, rather than accepting and reinforcing them indiscriminately.
5. The teacher models the characteristics of a thoughtful person.
6. Students generate original and unconventional ideas in the course of the interaction.

Newmann, F. (1990). Qualities of Thoughtful Social Studies Classes: An Empirical Profile. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 22, 253-275.

I would love

to read this essay with a group of teachers, to discuss its relevance/irrelevance.

Favorite quote:

A good job requires a field of action where you can put your best capacities to work and see an effect in the world. Academic credentials do not guarantee this.

Crawford, Matthew B. . “The Case for Working with Your Hands ” New York Times, May 24 2009, 36-41.

Cornel West spoke…

today at Saint Joe’s graduation. While it’s always fun to see an academic rock-star — is there a single historian that folks would line up to have their picture taken with — his speech was short and inspiring.

One quote I hadn’t heard before:

“justice is the public expression of love.”

Not sure I got it quite right… searching the interwebs, I come up with the following versions:

Justice is love expressing itself publicly.

Justice is what love looks like in public.

I think the second is the one from West’s written works.

The Visitor

Lost my list of 2007, 2008, 2009 films viewed; going to incorporate into main blog.

Either way, this powerful film, having watched on a Saturday evening after having read the reports of exactly what the CIA has been doing for the past five years, and I was left wondering how Americans can begin to re-build a government that stands for something.

Love your country all the time and your government when they deserve it.
Mark Twain

seamus heaney

History says, Don’t hope
On this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up,
And hope and history rhyme.

Seamus Heaney, “Voices from Lemnos,” in Opened Ground: Selected Poems, 1966-1996 (NY: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1998), 305-306.

Junior High School vs. Middle School

Someone should write an article describing the ebb and flow of that elusive facility called the junior high school or middle school or the eighth grade wing of the K-8 school. Nobody wants to teach these kids or maybe few people actually know how to teach this age; either way it’d be an interesting comparison to see when shifts in programming were about policy or research and where they were about money.