Many Children Left Behind

Reading this collection of essays; particularly striking were several of the assertions in Deborah Meier’s piece on democracy:

We need school where strong cross-generational relationships can be built around matters of importance to the world. Schools cannot do it alone — kids also need other non-school communities — but creating such schools is a necessary start. These schools can exist only in communities that trust them. There is no shortcut. The authority needed to do the job requires trust. Trusting our schools cannot be a long-term goal in some utopian vision. If you don’t trust the babysitter, no accountability scheme will make it safe to leave your child in her hands tonight. The only alternative is to stay home.

The business world offers little guidance in this task (to build trust/community/democracy). The ways of business hardly work for business, where “buyer beware” is the primary response to demands of accountability.

There will be acrimony and there will be local fights (if we can return democracy to schools). Hurrah, not alas. It is the habits of mind necessary for practicing and resolving disagreement — the mental toughness that democracy rests on — that kids most need to learn about in school. If we all agreed about everything, we wouldn’t need democracy; we wouldn’t need to learn how people work out differences.

Meier, Deborah. “NCLB and Democracy.” In Many Children Left Behind: How the No Child Left Behind Act is Damaging our Children and our Schools, edited by Deborah Meier and George H. Wood. Boston: Beacon Press, 2004.

Terrific Stuart Ewen letter to NYT 06242007

To the Editor:

I’ve never had a problem with the idea of merit pay for teachers, just the way that it is too often distributed. In many institutions, monetary rewards are the outcome of obedience to administrators rather than excellence in teaching and scholarship.

With academic leadership increasingly falling into the hands of politically appointed micromanagers rather than serious well-qualified educators, this problem will only continue, posing a threat to academic excellence.

If administrators, trustees and legislative overseers are willing to acknowledge that they may not be the most competent arbiters of academic “merit,” then a meritocracy may be able to work.

In an environment where petty martinets are in a position to make decisions about merit, excellence will be sacrificed at the altar of subservience. This is not good for education, or for the future of a well-educated America.

Stuart Ewen
New York, June 18, 2007

Idea for next year SS methods

Use this article:

Stearns, Peter N. “Goals in History Teaching.” In Learning and reasoning in history, edited by James F. Voss and Mario Carretero. London ; Portland, OR: Woburn Press, 1998
alongside the introduction to the 1994 history standards. His critique of the standards is quite interesting (and from inside the discipline as opposed to from a political standpoint) and would provoke a solid conversation.
Funny line: “A colleague who recommended, tongue in cheek, that the responsibility for defending Western values be given for the next ten years to biology courses, to let history off the hook, was not entirely off the mark.” p.286.

Endnote: how to add multiple references from same book

From the References menu, choose New Reference

1.Enter all of the bibliographic information that the references have in common (such as the year, book title, publisher, and city for different sections from one book).
2.Close the reference when you are finished. It remains selected in the Library window.
3.Choose Ctrl-C from the Edit menu.
4.Use the Ctrl-V command to paste the reference several times, to create as many partially-filled references as you need. You should paste directly to the Library window—do not open a new reference.

Tiger Woods discussing parenting

“I know if I had to pick one thing that my parents — I was very lucky to have two great parents — I was never afraid to go fail, because I knew that I would always come home to a home of love,” Woods said early last week. “My parents loved me unconditionally, no matter what. If I went out there and I gave it my best and I screwed up, it didn’t matter.

“My parents always told me they loved me every night, every time we said goodbye,” he added. “That was just something that I was never afraid to go out there and push myself to the limit. And if I failed, so what? I always had them to pick me up. I think that’s something that not all people have, but I was lucky to have that my entire life.”

Dave Anderson, “Woods Chases Nicklaus as Father,” New York Times, June 21,2007.

Commencement Speeches

The Times featured excerpts from a number of commencement speakers. I found this quote from John Lewis to be exceptional:

Sometimes I hear some young people say nothing has changed. I feel like saying, come and walk in my shoes. In 1956, at the age of 16, being so inspired by Dr. King along with some of my brothers and sisters and first cousins, we went to the little library in Pike County, Alabama, a public library in the little town of Troy trying to get library cards, trying to check out some books. And we were told by the librarian that the library was for whites only and not for coloreds.

I never went back to that library until July 5, 1998. By that time I was a member of Congress, and I went there for a book signing of my book. Hundreds of blacks and white citizens showed up. I signed many books. In the end, they gave me a library card. It says something about the distance we’ve come and the progress we’ve made in laying down the burden of race.