Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A School Choice Win in Washington

The Washington Post published an excellent editorial yesterday praising the city's voucher program and advocating for its renewal.

This is notable for two reasons. Firstly, it's an extremely compelling editorial and secondly, The Washington Post is a somewhat unlikely supporter of this issue. So congratulations to them for bucking the trend and speaking out for this program and the kids that are in it.

I am truly heartened by this city's renewed focus on the future of its children. Mayor Fenty and Chancellor Rhee have brought an amazing fresh breath of reform to Washington and they deserve considerable admiration for their commitment to improving the education of DC's kids.

Now, time will tell if our children's education will ultimately triumph over the status quo and the forces that keep it in place. Luckily, the WTU is embroiled in a nasty lawsuit right now, so maybe they will be distracted from this issue. One can only hope.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Study: Take That, Other Studies!

The Cato Institute released a study today criticizing other studies.


Entitled, "Dismal Science: The Shortcomings of U.S. School Choice Research and How to Address Them," the report points out the flaws in school choice research, focusing in particular on the lack study on the ways that school choice programs affect the education market.

I haven't read the entire report yet, so my comments have to be limited, but I was always under the impression that markets were infrequently addressed because most programs aren't large enough to create systemic market impact. My two cents.

Monday, April 14, 2008

More on Cool V. School

Mr. AB of From the TFA Trenches comments on the San Jose Mercury News article that I wrote about last week. The best part is this:

"Get this straight and send it to your friends: Children of color don’t devalue a good education and therefore fail to get it, they’re never given it and eventually, sensibly, stop caring.

By the time San Jose’s Latino population gets to high school, they will have endured nine years of being told they are failures, of listening to the devaluation of their home language, of watching all fun be stripped from their education, and of receiving sub-par instruction from inadequate teachers. It is a testament to the triumph of the human spirit that any child of color graduates from a high-challenge school at all."

Check out his entire post here. And thanks to dy/dan for the tip-off.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Latinos: Can You "Behave" in School?

I feel like I've spent much of this week ranting about racism in education, but here's another great example (unfortunately): Fairfax County Virginia's "Behavior Study," which ruled that Black and Hispanic kids behave worse and have worse "moral character" than White and Asian students. 

Some brave School Board members are protesting the "study," which was conducted by surveying teachers and asking them to judge the moral character of their students. The results were disaggregated by race and then presented as a staff report. 

For the past few decades, educators have worked to convince the public that all children - regardless of their race or economic background - can learn. And now, they're recanting that statement. Talk about a step backwards. 

Update: The Fairfax County School Board has decided to suspend voting on the report. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Too Cool for School?

Today, Eduwonk's guestblogger J.B. Schramm asks the question, "How Can We Make Going to College Cool?" 

Schramm claims that high school students are more likely to attend college if their friends also plan to attend. Therefore, according to his logic, "positive peer pressure" is the solution to getting kids to go to college. You have to make college cool, or so he writes, because then, kids will want to go. 

One problem: minority and low-income kids don't avoid in college because "it's uncool." They do not enroll because it is expensive, the admissions process is confusing, or they are not academically-prepared for the work, amongst other reasons. These students understand the value of a college degree - it doesn't have to be "cool" - but they are up against a lot of obstacles in reaching that degree. 

It is important to have a "college culture" within schools - and especially important in low-income, high minority schools. But peer pressure isn't enough. Schools need to give our students the practical skills and strategies that will help them understand how to apply to college, get in, and stay through graduation. Kids understand the value of college - let's teach them how to get there. 

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Dropout Crisis: Not a Problem After All

So, maybe this whole dropout thing isn't as terrible as we thought. 

Or so says Steve Blow in his Dallas Morning News article, published yesterday. 

"Here's my guess," he writes, "Most kids who drop out manage to become productive citizens anyway." Later in the article, Blow declares, "Look around. Lots and lots of jobs require only a basic academic education. Let's tailor some schools to match those students and those jobs." 

He's right - there are a lot of jobs that require only a basic education. But are those the jobs that provide livable salaries, that come with health care benefits, that include a 401k plan? 

Most likely not. 

The point of education - which Blow misses - is to give our children options for the future. We must prepare them for any career path that they choose. Students should be equally prepared to choose to become auto mechanics as they would be to become pre-med students. There is nothing wrong with having a job that doesn't require a lot of education, but children must be able to opt out of these jobs and not be forced into them. 

I'm pretty sure that Blow has never heard the phrase, "the soft racism of low expectations." Unfortunately, that is just what he is promoting. 

The Daily Grito is back, new and improved!

The Daily Grito has returned from its brief hiatus - and we are ready to make some changes to our blog! 

Firstly, we will begin to post regularly three times per week: on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. These postings will cover all of the weekly news and information about education reform and the Latino community. 

Secondly, we will be partnering with some new guestbloggers to provide you with even more commentary on education reform. More news about that to follow. 

Thirdly, we will now offer periodic interviews and analyses of educational issues. We will also switch the Friday blog round up to be a periodic feature. 

We look forward to all of these changes and the improvements that they will offer to our blog. We hope that you do too!