Education: A Golden Age

“The education sector’s structure and policies will change more in the next 3 years than they changed in the last 2,500 years”

Nation-building in America

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/29/opinion/29friedman.html

Anxious in America

Tom Friedman

Just a few months ago, the consensus view was that Barack Obama would need to choose a hard-core national-security type as his vice presidential running mate to compensate for his lack of foreign policy experience and that John McCain would need a running mate who was young and sprightly to compensate for his age. Come August, though, I predict both men will be looking for a financial wizard as their running mates to help them steer America out of what could become a serious economic tailspin.

I do not believe nation-building in Iraq is going to be the issue come November — whether things get better there or worse. If they get better, we’ll ignore Iraq more; if they get worse, the next president will be under pressure to get out quicker. I think nation-building in America is going to be the issue.

It’s the state of America now that is the most gripping source of anxiety for Americans, not Al Qaeda or Iraq. Anyone who thinks they are going to win this election playing the Iraq or the terrorism card — one way or another — is, in my view, seriously deluded. Things have changed.

Up to now, the economic crisis we’ve been in has been largely a credit crisis in the capital markets, while consumer spending has kept reasonably steady, as have manufacturing and exports. But with banks still reluctant to lend even to healthy businesses, fuel and food prices soaring and home prices declining, this is starting to affect consumers, shrinking their wallets and crimping spending. Unemployment is already creeping up and manufacturing creeping down.

The straws in the wind are hard to ignore: If you visit any car dealership in America today you will see row after row of unsold S.U.V.’s. And if you own a gas guzzler already, good luck. On Thursday, The Palm Beach Post ran an article on your S.U.V. options: “Continue to spend upward of $100 for a fill-up. Sell or trade in the vehicle for a fraction of the original cost. Or hold out and park the truck in the driveway for occasional use in hopes the market will turn around.” Just be glad you don’t own a bus. Montgomery County, Md., where I live, just announced that more children were going to have to walk to school next year to save money on bus fuel.

On top of it all, our bank crisis is not over. Two weeks ago, Goldman Sachs analysts said that U.S. banks may need another $65 billion to cover more write-downs of bad mortgage-related instruments and potential new losses if consumer loans start to buckle. Since President Bush came to office, our national savings have gone from 6 percent of gross domestic product to 1 percent, and consumer debt has climbed from $8 trillion to $14 trillion.

My fellow Americans: We are a country in debt and in decline — not terminal, not irreversible, but in decline. Our political system seems incapable of producing long-range answers to big problems or big opportunities. We are the ones who need a better-functioning democracy — more than the Iraqis and Afghans. We are the ones in need of nation-building. It is our political system that is not working.

I continue to be appalled at the gap between what is clearly going to be the next great global industry — renewable energy and clean power — and the inability of Congress and the administration to put in place the bold policies we need to ensure that America leads that industry.

“America and its political leaders, after two decades of failing to come together to solve big problems, seem to have lost faith in their ability to do so,” Wall Street Journal columnist Gerald Seib noted last week. “A political system that expects failure doesn’t try very hard to produce anything else.”

We used to try harder and do better. After Sputnik, we came together as a nation and responded with a technology, infrastructure and education surge, notes Robert Hormats, vice chairman of Goldman Sachs International. After the 1973 oil crisis, we came together and made dramatic improvements in energy efficiency. After Social Security became imperiled in the early 1980s, we came together and fixed it for that moment. “But today,” added Hormats, “the political system seems incapable of producing a critical mass to support any kind of serious long-term reform.”

If the old saying — that “as General Motors goes, so goes America” — is true, then folks, we’re in a lot of trouble. General Motors’s stock-market value now stands at just $6.47 billion, compared with Toyota’s $162.6 billion. On top of it, G.M. shares sank to a 34-year low last week.

That’s us. We’re at a 34-year low. And digging out of this hole is what the next election has to be about and is going to be about — even if it is interrupted by a terrorist attack or an outbreak of war or peace in Iraq. We need nation-building at home, and we cannot wait another year to get started. Vote for the candidate who you think will do that best. Nothing else matters.

2008/06/30 Posted by | Policy | Leave a comment

CHARTERS SCORE – OUTPERFORM AGAIN IN NYC

CHARTERS SCORE

By JAMES D. MERRIMAN

www.nypost.com/seven/06252008/postopinion/opedcolumnists/charters_score_117007.htm

By JAMES D. MERRIMAN

Chancellor has brought improvement via charters and traditional public schools.
Klein: Chancellor has brought improvement via charters and traditional public schools.

June 25, 2008

THE latest New York state achievement exams once again give charter- school students, parents and staff reason to be proud.

New York City charter-school students outpaced their counterparts in the regular public schools on the state English and math exams – the only tests that all kids take.

In math, charter students in grades 3 to 8 attained 84.9 percent proficiency – versus 70.5 percent for the other public schools in the same districts, and 74.3 percent citywide.

On the English Language Arts exam, charter students achieved 67.1 percent proficiency, compared to 53.6 percent for non-charter students in the same districts, and 57.6 percent citywide.

Note, too, that charters’ 84.9 percent in math is up from 73.8 percent last year, while the English score of 67.1 is up from 56.7.

Three other facts stand out:

1) Kids attending charters don’t just outperform students in those districts’ regular public schools: The performance-gap on these exams has steadily widened over the last three years, reaching double-digit margins this year.

2) Charter students’ performance showed significant gains in the middle grades – an area where the city’s traditional public schools have been having particular trouble of late.

In grades 6, 7 and 8, nearly four out of five charter students scored as proficient on this year’s state math exam – versus 61 percent of non-charter public-school students in the same districts, and the citywide average of 66 percent.

On the English test, 63 percent of charter-school students in the middle grades were proficient, compared to 47 percent for the host districts and 52 percent citywide.

3) Charters show great promise for closing the gap in performance between African-American and Latino students on the one hand and white students on the other: More than 90 percent of New York City charter kids are African- American or Latino – yet the city’s charters came within four percentage points of matching the math-proficiency rate of white students statewide.

While remarkable, these numbers aren’t surprising. They mirror the results of each of the last four years – showing that charter-school achievement is a sustained trend.

Charters’ success here doesn’t diminish the improvements that the city’s conventional city public schools have achieved – but it does show that giving parents options pays huge dividends.

Naysayers try to minimize charters’ success by noting that other children in the district don’t benefit from charters, which educate only 18,000 of the city’s million-plus public-school kids. In fact, charters are eager to share their best innovations with traditional public schools.

In the Chancellor’s Empowerment Zone, 10 charter schools work side-by-side with the most innovative new district schools to focus their efforts on what’s working well.

Above all else, when charter schools work well, no children are losers.

Some keys to sustaining the charter movement’s progress are:

* Keep encouraging charter schools and district schools to share space: Thirty-two charters are now housed in district facilities. That’s entirely legit – these public schools serve the city’s neediest kids. And sharing space gives charters and traditional schools the chance to collaborate to make a high-quality education a reality for every school in that building.

Yet some are trying to replace such cooperation with parent-on-parent animus by banning successful charter schools from public space.

* Provide charters with funding to build and improve their facilities: The state law that authorized charters failed to provide funds to build these schools; that’s the main reason charters use space in city Department of Education buildings.

Charters have to use funds from their budget to rent or buy classroom space. Every other public school in New York benefits from generous funding for building (and re-building) schools – regardless of whether the district or school is showing results.

* Let charters operate pre-kindergarten programs and receive funding for it. Charter schools have shown that they raise student achievement – so parents should be able to enroll their children as early as possible in charter-school pre-K programs, like any other public school.

* Reauthorize mayoral control of city public schools: Mayor Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein won high praise for their stewardship of the public-school system. Their successors should have the chance to build on their accomplishments – and that includes encouraging the growth of charter schools.

The high performance of the city’s charter schools shows that something wonderful is within our reach: a system in which our students are all allowed and encouraged to succeed. Now we must forge ahead to make that a reality.

James D. Merriman is the CEO of the New York City Center for Charter School Excellence, a nonprofit committed to increasing the number of high-quality charters in the city.

2008/06/29 Posted by | Policy | 1 Comment

En ny strategi for lærerstanden

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http://e24.no/kommentar/spaltister/andersen/article2506626.ece

Espen Andersen, Handelshøyskolen BI

Hvis lærerne skal øke sin status og inntekt, må de begynne å oppføre seg som kunnskapsarbeidere, ikke som industriarbeidere slik de gjør i dag.

Det er ikke lett å være lærer om dagen. Streiken i midten av juni resulterte i at arbeidsgiversiden skal tenke over saken. PC-satsinger sliter med variable kunnskaper og dårlig implementering. Elevene og studenter surfer i vei og forlanger stadig mer tilpasset og oppdatert undervisning hvis de skal gidde å følge med. Og Matematikkforbundets test av lærerskolestudenters matematikk-kunnskaper er en årviss og populær grøsser.

Læreren var engang høyt respektert – en av få i bygda med utdannelse, gjerne en mer progressiv innstilling enn prest, fut og lensmann, som representerte en port mot en videre verden for ungdom med evner og motivasjon. I takt med befolkningens stigende utdanningsnivå er ikke lenger lærerskole noe å slå i bordet med. Økt byråkratisering, gradvis overføring av oppdrageransvar fra foreldre til skole, og manglende differensiering har gjort at lærere har falt i status. Når vi beundrer en lærer nå, er det for vedkommendes idealisme og evne til å omgås barn og ungdom, sjelden for sine kunnskaper.

Lærerne er offentlig ansatte kunnskapsarbeidere som leverer en tjeneste det er vanskelig å spesifisere og enda vanskeligere å måle. I motsetning til leger, jurister og teknologer i samme situasjon, har lærerne valgt en industriell strategi for sin interaksjon med arbeidgiver: Kollektive oppgjør, lite differensiering, krav om prosessorienterte retningslinjer slik at man måles på at man har fulgt reglene heller enn oppnådd resultater. Problemet er at man da blir å betrakte som industriarbeidere – som en relativt anonym og utbyttbar innsatsfaktor, som i hvert fall i teorien jobber innenfor en fast arbeidstid og representeres av en ikke-faglig fagforening.

De fleste lærere har imidlertid en helt annen hverdag enn industriarbeidere. De er i praksis ansvarlige for sin egen kunnskapsoppdatering, de tar med seg jobben hjem, både fysisk og mentalt, de forventes å løse problemer på bredt grunnlag og representere skolen utad i mye større grad enn hva noen forventer av en fagarbeider. Men de er ikke kompensert for verken jobben eller ansvaret, og oppfattes ikke i samme grad som kunnskapsarbeidere av verken kunder (foreldre) eller sin ledelse. Fokus er i stedet på omsorg og service – læreren skal løse foreldrenes tidsklemme og sørge for fornøyde barn i en hverdag der foreldrene har mindre og mindre uorganisert tid avkommet.

Lærerne, både i seg selv og deres fagforening, må tenke nytt. Det er på tide å slutte å betrakte seg selv som premisstakere og begynne å ta initiativet – siden intet betyr mer for barns læring enn lærerens kvalitet, er det på tide at lærere begynner å dyrke kvalitet og initiativ fremfor middelmådighet og konformitet.

Skal lærerne øke respekten for sin profesjon og bedre sine kår må de begynne å oppføre seg som de som er godt betalt og/eller høyt respekterte i samfunnet – leger, advokater, teknologer, folk med forretningsutdannelse. Her er noen konkrete tiltak:

Gjør det vanskelig å bli lærer. I dag kan man komme inn på lærerskolen hvis man kan lese og har puls. Lærerne bør insistere på høye opptakskrav og tøff utdannelse, slik at antallet utdannede lærere går ned – men deres kompetanse går opp. Samtidig må man få regelfestet at bare lærere med skikkelig utdanning skal kunne undervise i skolen – først i videregående, deretter nedover til barneskolen.

Få sentralisert skoleeierskapet. I dag er videregående skoler et fylkeskommunalt ansvar og barne- og ungdomsskolen kommunalt. Denne oppsplittingen gjør at faglige hensyn må diskuteres og prioriteres vis-a-vis mange ulike beslutningstakere, med varierende kunnskap om skole og med utdanningsnivå og -kvalitet som et av mange hensyn å ta (og kanskje ikke det som gjør seg best i en lokalvalgkamp.) Fylkeskommunene er i dag en parkeringsplass for folk som ikke får jobb andre steder og roter videregående skole til med distriktspolitiske hensyn og revirtenking. Kommuner underinvesterer systematisk i vedlikehold og oppdateringer. Statlig ansvar for alle skoler flytter diskusjonen og kriteriene dit kunnskapen og pengesekken sitter, hindrer kommuner i å tappe skolebudsjetter til fordel for andre ting, og ansvarliggjør regjeringen på en helt annen måte enn nå.

Lag en faglig basert, alternativ karrierestige. En lærer som ønsker å gjøre noe mer enn å være lærer – å gjøre karriere – har i dag få muligheter uten å bli administrator. Lærerne bør kreve «superlærer»-stillinger, der de flinkeste lærerne får ansvaret for å gjøre de andre bedre. Dette er en parallell til faglig ledende stillinger i andre profesjoner, og gir de flinke lærerne en mulighet til å utvikle seg selv og andre uten å måtte slutte å gjøre det de kan best. Samtidig bør man jobbe for flere faglig baserte spesialiststillinger ute i hver enkelt skole – det gir mulighet for lønnsdifferensiering.

Oppmuntre til private alternativ. Private alternativ til offentlig skole – enten det nå er privatskoler eller lærere som er ansatt i konsulentselskaper og leier seg ut til skoler som trenger hjelp – gir lærerne flere karrieremuligheter, gir en mulighet for de som ønsker mer lønn i bytte for mindre sikkerhet, og er en utmerket brekkstang for å få opp lønninger og betingelser for de ”vanlige” lærerne. Om ønskelig kan jo fagforeningen gjøre en hestehandel som krever fagorganisering for å tillate dette.

Få inn folk med annen høyere utdannelse. Egentlig bør ikke lærerskolen være et studium i seg selv – den bør være en påbygning, fokusert på pedagogikk, til en allerede eksisterende høyere utdannelse. Ved å oppmuntre til rekruttering av folk med annen utdannelse som lærere får man inn folk med profesjonsforståelse og initiativ – og man kan, igjen, drive opp lønnsnivået for de «vanlige» lærerne.

Slåss for arbeidsvilkår i stedet for lønnstillegg. Det er ikke lett å skaffe seg kolektive lønnstillegg – og når det gis, gis det av medynk og ikke av respekt. Lærerne bør i stedet slåss for bedre datautstyr, skikkelige hjemmekontor, fine klasserom, skikkelige budsjetter til skoleturer, og – hvorfor ikke – firmabil og bonusordning. Dette muliggjør rekruttering og bedre leveranser, og man unngår sammenligning med grupper man ikke bør sammenligne seg med. Lønnsøkningene kommer de, som et resultat av tilbud og etterspørsel.

Samarbeid elektronisk om å gjøre skolen bedre. Lærernes største problem er at deres kommunikasjonsform er for forsiktig og for langsom i forhold til samfunnsutviklingen. De bør bruke Internett-verktøy – hva med et dedikert Facebook for alle norske lærere – for å utvikle undervisningsplaner, profesjonsstrategier og undervisningsmateriell som ligger i forkant av det politikere og obskure undervisningsideologier klarer å koke sammen. Neste skolereform bør komme fra lærerne selv i stedet for å bli tredd ned over hodet på dem!

Et kompetansesamfunn krever nye organisasjonsformer preget av initiativ, kvalitetsfokus og aggressiv satsing på faglig utvikling. Er lærernes nåværende organisasjoner klare for den oppgaven?

2008/06/27 Posted by | Policy | Leave a comment

Evolution of school mathematics exercises over the last 50 years

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1. Teaching Math In 1950s

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is
4/5 of the price. What is his profit ?

2. Teaching Math In 1960s

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is
4/5 of the price, or $80. What is his profit?

3. Teaching Math In 1970s

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is
$80. Did he make a profit?

4. Teaching Math In 1980s

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is
$80 and his profit is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20.

5. Teaching Math In 1990s

A logger cuts down a beautiful forest because he is selfish and
inconsiderate and cares nothing for the habitat of animals or the
preservation of our woodlands. He does this so he can make a profit of
$20. What do you think of this way of making a living? Topic for class
participation after answering the question: How did the birds and
squirrels feel as the logger cut down their homes? (There are no wrong
answers, and if you feel like crying, it’s ok. )

2008/06/26 Posted by | Policy | Leave a comment

Schools for teachers flunk math

WASHINGTON (AP) — For kids to do better in math, their teachers might have to go back to school.

Elementary-school teachers are poorly prepared by education schools to teach math, finds a study being released Thursday by the National Council on Teacher Quality.

Math relies heavily on cumulative knowledge, making the early years critical.

The study by the nonpartisan research and advocacy group comes a few months after a federal panel reported that U.S. students have widespread difficulty with fractions, a problem that arises in elementary school and prevents kids from mastering more complicated topics like algebra later on.

The report looked at 77 elementary education programs around the country, or roughly 5 percent of the institutions that offer undergraduate elementary teacher certification.

It found the programs, within colleges and universities, spend too little time on elementary math topics.

Author Julie Greenberg said education students should be taking courses that give them a deeper understanding of arithmetic and multiplication. She said the courses should explain how math concepts build upon each other and why certain ideas need to be emphasized in the classroom.

Teacher candidates know their multiplication tables, but “they don’t come to us knowing why multiplication works the way it does,” said Denise Mewborn, who heads the University of Georgia department of math and science education.

The university was cited in the report for having an “exemplary program,” while nine others met basic requirements. The rest offered too little math coursework or coursework that was considered weak, according to the report.

The University of Georgia requires teacher candidates to take courses to help them understand concepts underlying elementary-school math, as well as math courses not designed for teachers.

The report found significant differences in the number and kind of courses required by each education program.

Education schools also are not being selective enough, the report stated. Most require applicants to take an admissions test, usually around their sophomore year of college. But the test, which typically includes reading, writing and math sections, is far too easy, according to the report.

“Almost anyone can get in. Compared to the admissions standards found in other countries, American education schools set exceedingly low expectations for the mathematics knowledge that aspiring teachers must demonstrate,” said the report.

U.S. children often fall in the middle or bottom of the pack when compared to other students on international math tests.

Jane West, vice president of government relations for the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, said her organization had not received a copy of the report Wednesday. The National Council on Teacher Quality plans to release it publicly at a news conference Thursday.

The report also criticized the tests education students take when they complete their coursework, which are generally relied on by states in granting teacher licenses. In many cases, the prospective teachers are judged on an overall score only, meaning they could do badly on the math portion but still pass if they do well in the other areas.

Since states oversee the preparation of the nation’s school teachers, the report recommends they set tougher coursework and testing standards.

Francis Fennell, the past president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, said the report fails to examine the math instruction students receive while attending community colleges, where many elementary-school teachers start their higher education.

He also said the study’s authors should have surveyed teachers to get their views on how well prepared they were to teach math.

Fennell, who instructs teacher candidates in math at McDaniel College in Westminster, Md., said a common area of weakness among his students is fractions — the same subject the national math panel described as a weak area for kids. “Part of the reason the kids don’t know it is because the teachers aren’t transmitting that,” he said.

To boost teachers’ understanding of math, the math departments at universities ought to place more emphasis on training educators, Fennell added.

2008/06/26 Posted by | Policy | Leave a comment

Museums from the 1970s: factories, schools

2008/06/26 Posted by | Policy | Leave a comment

Portal – should be federal

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Our comment: given the not only federalization but globalization of education portal funding should go to a portal that is federal, otherwise a lot of work and money would probably have to go into harmonizing State portals later.

KERRY INTRODUCES LEGISLATION TO EMPOWER TEACHERS AND PREPARE STUDENTS FOR SUCCESS

BOSTON – Senator John Kerry today introduced the Empowering Teaching and Learning through Education Portals Act. The Act would provide funding for an education “portal” run by the Massachusetts Department of Education, as well as provide for similar portals in other states.

Education portals are a one-stop resource for educators, parents, and students to support teaching, learning, and leading.  A portal allows educators to quickly search for lesson plans or other resources by content standard, grade level, specific student and classroom needs, and/or topic.  A portal also provides a secure, on-line community for educators to collaborate and discuss teaching and learning and experiences, as well as serves as a vital communication tool between the school and parents.

“Few things are as important to the future of our country as the quality of our schools. The Empowering Teaching and Learning Through Education Act will help us to bridge the urban-rural educational divide that unfortunately still exists throughout our country today. This act will ensure that all districts in all corners of all the states have access to high quality resources that allow both students and teachers to grow,” said Senator Kerry.

The Act supports high quality teaching, professional development and retention of teachers and promotes an on-line support network and learning community for teachers and administrators. It also provides coaching and guidance to teachers to address the challenges of teaching a diverse student body.

Kerry’s legislation will help Massachusetts come up with the funding needed to improve its educational systems.  The Act establishes annual competitive grants that will provide funding for states that wish to implement and maintain education portals.  The legislation also provides new tax incentives to private organizations that support state education portal efforts.

2008/06/26 Posted by | Policy | Leave a comment

SETDA bandwidth timeline recommendation: need to be brought in line with global lead

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State Educational Technology Directors Association Vision 20/20: “High-Speed Broadband Access for All Kids: Breaking through the Barriers”
http://www.setda.org/web/guest/class2020actionplan

Key recommendations include:
In a technology-rich learning environment for the next 2-3 years, SETDA recommends:

  • An external Internet connection to the Internet Service Provider of 10 Mbps per 1,000 students/staff
  • Internal wide area network connections from the district to each school between schools of at least 100 Mbps per 1,000 students/staff

In a technology-rich learning environment for the next 5-7 years, SETDA recommends:

  • An external Internet connection to the Internet Service Provider of 100 Mbps per 1,000 students/staff
  • Internal wide area network connections from the district to each school between schools of at least 1 Gbps per 1,000 students/staff

Our comments: In 2-3 years probably some 50% of all Grade 5-12 students will receive instruction in at least one subject from a teacher who is not local.  This instruction typically equates to a continuous during-daytime-education-hours bandwidth (to the external Internet) of about 400Mbps downstream and 50Mbps upstream per 1,000 students.

If the typical school external Internet connection even 2-3 years from now (a very long web 2.0 time) is only 10 Mbps per 1,000 students/staff then there will be a huge surge of students (an increasing number of whom already have more than 10Mbps at home – each) using their education vouchers largely to pay for home-based instruction, spending a much reduced amount of time on school premises.

Some European reports, in comparison, already in 2003 specified 500Kbps (bi-directional) per student – 500Mbps per 1,000 students – as the appropriate external Internet bandwidth for 2008.  The European countries aren’t quite there yet, but at least the typical (northern European) school external Internet connection is now, as of 2008, at about 100Mbps per 1,000 students (all over fiber and easily increased).

We urge SETDA to make the 5-7 year recommendations 2-3 year ones.

About bandwidth’s importance for global competitiveness see Clyde Prestowitz: http://www.oplan.org/documents/articles/america-s-technology-future-at-risk-broadband-and-investment-strategies-to-refire-innovation/fss_download/file

2008/06/25 Posted by | Policy | Leave a comment

Obama no Bloomberg yet in the area of education: still too much “all things to all people”

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http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080616/NEWS06/80616041/1118/RSS

This agenda starts with education. Whether you’re conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat, practically every economist agrees that in this digital age, a highly-educated and skilled workforce will be the key not only to individual opportunity, but to the overall success of our economy as well. We cannot be satisfied until every child in America – and I mean every child – has the same chances for a good education that we want for our own children.

And yet, despite this consensus, we continually fail to deliver. A few years ago, I visited a high school outside Chicago. The number one concern I heard from those students was that the school district couldn’t afford to keep teachers for a full day, so school let out at 1:30 every afternoon. That cut out critical classes like science and labs. Imagine that – these kids wanted more school. They knew they were being short-changed. Unfortunately, stories like this can be found across America. Only 20 percent of students are prepared to take college classes in English, math and science. We have one of the highest dropout rates of any industrialized nation, and barely one tenth of our low-income students will graduate from college. That will cripple their ability to keep pace in this global economy, and compromise our ability to compete as a nation.

Senator McCain doesn’t talk about education much. But I don’t accept the status quo.

Our comment: The Bush Administration’s No Child Left Behind legislation started an era of accountability.  NCLB was not the status quo.  McCain could make a contributions by not turning back the clock.

It is morally unacceptable and economically untenable. It’s time to make an historic commitment to education–…

Our comment: continuing the previous Administration’s commitment

… a real commitment that will require new resources and new reforms.

We can start by investing $10 billion to guarantee access to quality, affordable, early childhood education for every child in America. Every dollar that we spend on these programs puts our children on a path to success, while saving us as much as $10 in reduced health care costs, crime, and welfare later on.

We can fix the failures of No Child Left Behind,…

Our comment: use of “failures” creating unproductive partisanship

… while focusing on accountability. That means providing the funding that was promised. More importantly, it means reaching high standards, but not by relying on a single, high stakes standardized test that distorts how teachers teach.  Instead, we need to work with governors, educators and especially teachers to develop better assessment tools that effectively measure student achievement…

Our comment: blatantly pandering to the education establishment

…, and encourage the kinds of research, scientific investigation, and problem-solving that our children will need to compete.

And we need to recruit an army of new teachers.

Our comment: pandering to the education establishment

I’ll make this pledge as President – if you commit your life to teaching, America will pay for your college education. We’ll recruit teachers in math and science, and deploy them to under-staffed school districts in our inner cities and rural America.

Our comment: as our readers know there are several profound subsector developments on the way, and sending a few new graduates to poor areas improves an underperforming sector only modestly.

We’ll expand mentoring programs that pair experienced teachers with new recruits.

Our comment: pandering to the education establishment.  Surveys show that the efficacy of Western teachers, unlike that of teachers in some other parts of the world, typically doesn’t improve much after the first 2-3 years.

And when our teachers succeed, I won’t just talk about how great they are – I’ll reward their greatness with better pay and more support.

Our: “I”? In the new education sector the subject allocation and pay of teachers is determined by how students allocate their education voucher dollars.

But research shows that resources alone won’t create the schools that we need to help our children succeed. We also need to encourage innovation – by adopting curricula and the school calendar to the needs of the 21st century; by updating the schools of education that produce most of our teachers; by welcoming charter schools within the public schools system, and streamlining the certification process for engineers or businesspeople who want to shift careers and teach.

Our comment: All very good; the one key development not mentioned at all is that students from 2007 on  choose among teachers all over the world, and that the introduction of voucher systems automatically follow from this.

We must also challenge the system that prevents us from promoting and rewarding excellence in teaching. We cannot ask our teachers to perform the impossible – to teach poorly prepared children with inadequate resources, and then punish them when children perform poorly on a standardized test. But if we give teachers the resources they need; if we pay them more, and give them time for professional development; if they are given ownership over the design of better assessment tools and a creative curricula; if we shape reforms with teachers rather than imposing changes on teachers, then it is fair to expect better results. Where there are teachers who are still struggling and underperforming, we should provide them with individual help and support. And if they’re still underperforming after that, we should find a quick and fair way to put another teacher in that classroom. Our children deserve no less.

Our comment: if if if if if… As any diligent education sector observer knows massive gains can be achieved by applying commonplace management principles immediately.

2008/06/25 Posted by | Policy | Leave a comment

Nye skoler i skandinaviske hovedsteder for spesielt akademisk interesserte unge barn

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Global Education vurderer å starte, høsten 2009 (i Norge rett etter at den nye regjeringen er på plass), en barneskole (for oss betyr det 1.-4. utdanningsår; vi regner 5. år som første ungdomsskoleår) for akademisk interesserte barn i de skandinaviske hovedstedene.

Fokus vil være på analytisk trening gjennom rik matematikkopplæring og på tidlig opplæring i 2. fremmedspråk (nok med kinesisk som det topprangerte slike).

Vi kan forestille oss at det blir opptak til 1., 2., og 3. utdanningsår – opptak da etter ferdighet, ikke alder.

I forbindelse med interesse-kartleggingen mottar vi gjerne tilbakemeldinger til educationagoldenage@gmail.com.

2008/06/25 Posted by | Policy | Leave a comment

No Child Left Behind and high-achieving students

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Laura Vanderkam, http://giftedexchange.blogspot.com/2008/06/did-nclb-hurt-gifted-students.html

“This week, the Fordham Institute released a new report on “High Achieving Students in the Era of No Child Left Behind.”

For the Fordham report, authors Tom Loveless, Steve Farkas, and Ann Duffett looked at how students in the 90th percentile and the 10th percentile scored on the NAEP (the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or “the nation’s report card”). They particularly focused on scores since 2002, which is roughly when the current national focus on accountability began. They also surveyed teachers about their time and priorities.

This is the major finding: Congress passed NCLB with the goal of narrowing the achievement gap. That has, in fact, happened over the past 5-6 years. Here is why it has happened: lower-achieving students have made fairly large gains on the NAEP. High-achieving students have made small gains. Consequently, the achievement gap has been closing.

The bigger question, of course, is whether this is something to be celebrating, and whether Congress set the right goal.

In education, there is always a fundamental tension between excellence and equity. As Americans, we really like both concepts. We want all students to achieve more in the future than they do now, and we also want some students not to lag too far behind others. But these are conflicting goals. If all student scores were rising on the NAEP at a fast clip, the achievement gap would stay the same. In fact, if all student scores rose by 10%, this would expand the achievement gap (a student scoring 200 would go to 220, a 300 to 330, expanding the gap from 100 to 110). This means that, fundamentally, we have to choose which of the goals of excellence and equity is most important.

The Fordham report gives data on what we have, apparently chosen. I want to stress that it does show something important: NCLB has not, per se, hurt the highest achieving children on an objective test measurement standard. Scores are relatively flat. The NAEP (like an out-of-level test — e.g. giving the SAT to 7th graders) allows for a full spectrum of scores to show up. So this is not the case of a consistent 99th percentile grade-level score masking a decline in achievement that a blunt test can’t pick up.

But the authors did also survey teachers, and found something that is also salient. Some 60% of teachers said low achievers were a “top priority” at their schools, and 23% said high achievers were (teachers could give more than one answer). Asked about who was likely to receive more one-on-one attention, 81% of teachers said struggling students were, with only 5% saying advanced students were.

We don’t really have data of how teachers felt in the past. But it is clear that in this era of accountability, NCLB and other policies have designated our national priority: raising the test scores of low-achieving students. Everything else is secondary.

It is, of course, a worthy goal to raise low scores. On the other hand, a teacher’s one-on-one attention is a zero-sum game. If it’s going to low achievers, it’s not going to high achievers. So basically, as a nation, we have made a choice to let high achievers coast. This shows up in the NAEP scores.

I — and many readers of this blog, I’m sure — am not terribly comfortable with this national choice. I’ve long advocated taking the basic concept of accountability and applying it to individual students, rather than schools. That way, no one can hide behind averages on a grade-level test that make it more critical for a kid on the border of proficient to become proficient than for a high-achieving student to excel. From my first read of the Fordham report, I think we can start making a case in public policy spheres that we should change NCLB’s mission from closing the achievement gap to raising the achievement of all students (really meaning “no child”). It does us little good to make sure everyone is capable of reading a ballot and balancing a checkbook if we can’t also produce engineers and doctors and programmers and the like. Equality is not a useful end goal in itself. Excellence is.

2008/06/25 Posted by | Policy | Leave a comment

Birgitte Jordahl Lisland om utdanningsfrihet

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www.civita.no/publikasjoner/dl/11/
http://wo.uio.no/as/WebObjects/theses.woa/wa/these?WORKID=27069

“Ønsket om et mer fleksibel og tilpasset undervisning vil i vårt raskt kommuniserende samfunn være av stor verdi. Kombinasjonsløsninger mellom hjemmeundervisning, frittstående skoler, offentlige skoler og arbeidsliv  med bruk av IKT, fjernundervisning, omgangslærere, praksis osv., er nye skolekonsepter det kan være ønskelig å prøve ut. Behovet for å tilpasse skolegang og undervisning til nye måter å leve på i et moderne samfunn, vil presse frem ny utdanningsformer. Dette er behov som springer ut av samfunnsforandring, og det er verdifullt for kunnskapssamfunnet at vi ivaretar kompetanseutviklingen i samfunnet gjennom større grad av fleksibilitet i utdanningen.”

Vår kommentar: Vi mener det er viktig å spørre de offentlig drevne skolene om presis hva de mener med “fellesskap”, og hvordan de fremmer dette fellesskapet.  Dagens grunnskole-allokering av elever basert på bosted er jo i seg selv sterkt korrelert med foreldre-økonomi (“klasse”), og derigjennom også med foreldrenes utdannelse (ihvertfall i 2. generasjon).

2008/06/23 Posted by | Policy | Leave a comment

Opphevelsen av gymnassystemet: startsignalet for 30 års forfall

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http://www.klassekampen.no/53894/article/item/null

Vår kommentar: Artikkelen er en sterk påminnelse om hvilket EKSTREMT og særdeles mislykket sosialt (ikke akademisk) prosjekt den norske (enhets)skolen er. Studiepoengbakgrunnen til lærere i Norge og i andre land har vi tatt opp mange andre steder.

“I en stortingsdebatt om skolereformene i 1970-årene sa Arbeiderpartistrategen Einar Førde – som var undervisningsminister i 1979-81 – at hensikten med reformen var «å gravlegge det eksisterande gymnassystemet»…”

“Den politiske eliten på venstresiden skotter nå i retning av den klassiske pedagogikken. Det er bare gjennom klassisk pedagogikk at norsk skoleverk kan oppnå bedre resultater i skolefagene. Denne klassiske pedagogikken formidler fagkunnskap, den utvikler faglige ferdigheter og belønner gode prestasjoner. En slik ny skole ville fremelske forskjeller og likeverdighet samtidig, og anstrenge seg for å skape en kultur der menneskeverd ikke forveksles med latskap. Også i dag finnes det skoler som driver etter slik klassisk pedagogikk.

Skole som idé og virksomhet må være en kompetansestyrt og prestasjonsbasert virksomhet. Skolen kan ikke være demokratisk i samme forstand som politiske organer. Den klassiske ideen om dannelse beskriver en reise i en fremmed fagverden, en bevegelse som forandrer elevene. Skolens hensikt er at elevene skal bli til noe, og det er ikke tilstrekkelig å være noen. Innretningen av skolen har til hensikt først og fremst å bevare, formidle og utvikle samfunnets kultur-, kunnskaps- og ferdighetsarv. Derfor innsettes lektorer og lærere som har den kunnskapen, og pedagogikken skal være kunnskapens hjelper i dette arbeidet. Det er dannelsesreisen som skaper hensikt, orden og mening i skolen, og hvis denne bevegelsen stopper opp, forandres skolen. Det er derfor av største betydning at skolens forhold til kunnskap er bestemmende og i sentrum for oppmerksomheten.

Skolen i klassisk tradisjon skal ikke handle om hele livet, men om en avgrenset del som fastsettes av samfunnet gjennom læreplanverket og undervisning. Hvis skolen forsøker å favne alt, vil den miste grepet om sin egentlige oppgave. Jo mer skolens virksomhet utvides med alle slags temaer fra elevenes hverdag, jo mindre kan disse temaene behandles med kompetanse. Undervisningen forfaller til samtaler om hverdagens trivialiteter.

Kunnskapsreisen i skolen skjer ikke av seg selv, men må ledes av lektorer og lærere, og støttes av systemer for undervisning, veiledning, tilbakemelding og evaluering. Læringspsykologer sier gjerne at det skjer ingen læring uten korreksjoner. Det skjer heller ikke læring uten oppmuntring og hjelp til å nå mål. Mellom denne skolens klassiske idé og det mer spontane samværet er det en spenning. På samme måte er det et spenningsforhold mellom skolen som prestasjonsbasert virksomhet og skolen som likeverdig fellesskap mellom elever.”

“På 1970- og 80-tallet var det nær kontakt mellom de nyutdannede sosialpedagogene fra det radikale studiet på Blindern, Norsk Lærerlag og venstresidens politiske eliter, ikke minst SV. Formannen i Lærerlaget Trond Johannessen sa om SV at «De har fulgt opp det meste vi har kommet med.» Lederen Kari Lie ville tone ned den «teoretiske fagtenkinga» og ville ikke ha en eneste fagfordypning over et halvt år i lærerutdanningen. Nestformann Magne Askeland så ikke på fall i kunnskapsnivået som noe viktig tema siden skolen «legg mykje meir vekt på den sosiale sida enn på den kunnskapsmessige», noe han var fornøyd med.”

“I Olav Rovdes bok om Norsk Lærerlags historie 1966-2001 heter det at: «Den sosialpedagogiske vendinga på 1970-talet harmonerte bra med haldningane i og politikken til Lærarlaget. Reformtenkninga la opp til ei lærarrolle der vekta ikkje skulle leggjast så mykje på kunnskap og fag, men på dei sosiale sidene ved lærargjerninga.» (s 94) Videre heter det: «Hjalmar Seim, som i mange år var formann i Forsøksrådet, hadde sagt om lærarrolla i den nye grunnskulen: Læraren skulle vere pedagog, ikke ekspert. Den framtidige lærarutdanninga måtte ‘fra det å gi faglig perfeksjonering gå mer over til å gjøre lærerne til virkelige lærere,’ slik at dei kunne bli gode arbeidsleiarar for barn og ungdom. Den niårige grunnutdanninga måtte bort frå den gamle puggeskulen. Slike synspunkt trykte Lærarlaget til brystet, og dei vann også oppslutning i lærarmiljøa.»”

“Tilbake står altfor ofte en tynn suppe som er et ufrivillig kompromiss mellom skole og ubesluttsom atferdsterapi.”

“Hvis rettighets- og likhetstenkningen blir så dominerende, rammer det mulighetene til å drive skole og utdanning.”

“For et par uker siden foreslo den svenske regjeringen å innføre skjerpede krav for å komme inn på teoretiske linjer i videregående skole. Den høye frafallsprosenten også i Sverige skyldes nok delvis at elever velger linjer de ikke har verken motivasjon eller kunnskapsforutsetninger for å klare.”

“Det er naturlig å spørre om vi har fått den skolen som venstresiden – og da tenker jeg på både den politiske og profesjonseliten – faktisk har villet skape. Trekk i ungdomskulturen som sosial legning, interesse for selvutvikling, god selvtillit og svakere faglige kunnskaper kunne tyde på det. Den mektige undervisningsministeren Helge Sivertsen ville at skolen skulle skape det «det sosialistiske kulturmennesket».”

“Dessverre har de rød-grønne nettopp latt gå fra seg en stor sjanse til å styrke fagundervisningen. Nylig har Kunnskapsdepartementet fastsatt endringer i forskriften til Opplæringsloven slik at det nå skal kreves ett års utdannelse for å bli ansatt som lærer i norsk, engelsk og matematikk. Men de rød-grønne stemte mot å kreve ett års utdannelse i disse fagene for å undervise! Jeg gjentar: fra nå av skal det ansettes lærere med ett års utdannelse, men alle kan fortsatt undervise med allmennlærerutdannelse.

… viser hvordan venstresidens politiske grep har utvidet grunnskolelærernes arbeidsområder, flyttet førskolelærerne inn i grunnskolen og presset lektorene ut på sidelinjen – også i videregående skole.  Denne historiske linjen er en skammens linje i venstresidens skolepolitikk.

“Det som skolen trenger aller mest, er høyt utdannede, selvstendige og bestemte akademikere. Sammen med noenlunde motiverte elever blir det både skole og læring av slikt.”

“Men opprinnelig er fiasko et italiensk ord for å betegne en mislykket kunstgjenstand som bare kunne brukes som en flaske. I den forstand kan kanskje skoleverket – hvis det mislykkes som klassisk skole – fortsatt brukes som oppbevaringssted for barn og ungdom som ikke skal ha undervisning. Med andre ord nettopp som en fiasko.”

2008/06/22 Posted by | Policy | Leave a comment

Lærertetthet som driver utdanningskostnadene i været

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http://www.civita.no/tema/utdanning-skole/kunnskap-er-mye-viktigere-enn-for-680

Vår kommentarer:

– Generelt mener vi at perspektivet her er for mye på den tradisjonelle monolittiske “skolen” og for lite på den enkelte, lærer-velgende elev.

– vi minner om at i Kina, der matematikkundervisningen i den 4-årige barneskolen er på verdens-toppnivå, er det vanlig med 50 elever i klassen.

– Vi er ikke enige med dem som påstår at å identifisere hva som gjør et utdanningssystem godt krever omfattende forskning!

– Tilpasset undervisning for akademisk orienterte unge elever er i 2008, som det var i 2001 og 1978, mindre utviklet i Norge enn i noe annet land i den industrialiserte verden.

– Opptakskravene til lærerhøyskolene er fortsatt for lave.

– Fagfordypningskravene er fortsatt altfor lave.

– Lærernes faglige ferdigheter før og etter Kompetanseløft-tiltak – tiltakenes effektivitet – blir ikke målt.

Jo, lærernes resultater på individuelt nivå kommer til å offentliggjøres, fordi elevene nå begynner å velge lærere pr. fag selv, og må da ha et datagrunnlag å foreta valg på.

•” Det er store forskjeller mellom elevenes prestasjoner. Ulikhet som følge av sosial og kulturell hjemmebakgrunn reproduseres i skolen, som dermed ikke bidrar til sosial utjevning og mobilitet.”

“Det er for lite opplæring som er tilpasset den enkelte elevs forutsetninger og behov. Det er for lite differensiering og variasjon i undervisningen.”

“Sammenlignet med de fleste andre land presterer norske elever langt under det man skulle forvente ut fra ressursbruken og ut fra landets velstandsnivå. Og det skjer altså ikke fordi vi har skapt en likhetsskole med små forskjeller mellom elevene. Tvert om. Det norske paradokset består i at vi

• bruker mer ressurser enn nesten alle andre land,
• har flere faglig svake elever enn mange andre land, og
• skaper større forskjeller mellom elevene enn mange andre land.

Continue reading

2008/06/22 Posted by | Policy | Leave a comment

Forbud mot utbytte fra friskoledrift: samfunnsøkonomisk idioti

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http://www.dagbladet.no/kultur/2008/03/27/530683.html

PRIVATSKOLER: I en artikkel 17.3. angriper SVs skolepolitiske talsperson, Lena Jensen, Høyres friskolepolitikk. Hun hevder at den friskoleloven som ble foreslått av Bondevik II-regjeringen åpnet for kommersielle skoler. Det er feil. Tvert om ble forbudet mot å ta ut utbytte fra friskolene ytterligere skjerpet. Den rødgrønne regjeringen mente at bestemmelsen ble så streng at det ikke var nødvendig å endre den. Det er altså like forbudt nå som under Bondevik II-regjeringen å ta ut utbytte fra driften av friskoler.”

Vår kommentar: det ville være en samfunnsøkonomisk ulykke om ikke regjeringen som kommer inn høsten 2009 opphever forbudet mot å ta ut utbytte fra skoledrift.  Å få ned kostnadene i en norsk utdanningssektor med et av de høyeste kostnadsnivåene i verden krever at kostnadsstrukturer synliggjøres/settes i bevegelse; dette har erfaring vist at krever mange og aktive eiere av et slag som bare involverer seg på arenaer der vanlige bedriftsøkonomiske mekanismer får lov til å fungere.  Og faren er minimal for at overskudd blir drevet opp til et kunstig høyt nivå ved å skjære ned på undervisningstilbudet; vi vet allerede at elever er raske til å melde fra dersom slikt skjer.

Men viktigere og bredere: med teknologi til hjelp vil de fleste elever snart få undervisning i ihvertfall ett kjernefag av lærere som ikke er lokale og som ofte er basert utenfor Norge.  Dette vil føre til at utdanningsmidlene vil følge den enkelte elev (en del av utdanningsmidlene vil allokeres til lokal utdanningsfasilitetsdrift, den andre fordeler elevene på valge lærere), og dagens skille mellom “offentlige”, “fri-” og “private” skoler viskes ut.

2008/06/22 Posted by | Policy | Leave a comment

Calculator use: a catastrophe

Our comment: Global Education considers the school use of calculators over the past 20 years to be the greatest single catastrophe to ever befall mathematics education.  There must be no room for calculator use in elementary school mathematics education; there must be very little room for it in middle school mathematics education.

From the Wall Street Journal, Friday, December 15, 2000, p. 1 [Front page]. See
http://interactive.wsj.com/articles/SB976838326811281152.htm
***********************************

Calculators May Be the Wrong Answer As a ‘Digital Divide’ Widens in Schools

By Daniel Golden

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Rick Martin’s fifth graders get flummoxed
subtracting two-digit numbers. Hardly any know their multiplication
tables.

But in his class, they don’t have to.

“Go ahead and get your calculators out,” the teacher tells his
students at Hazelwood Elementary
School one morning. Then, he assigns this problem: The Voyager 2
satellite was launched in
August 1977 and reached Neptune in August 1989. How many months did
the journey take?
Continue reading

2008/06/21 Posted by | Policy | Leave a comment

Hopefully no more role confusion by Obama

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When schoolchildren start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of schoolchildren.”  AFT President Albert Shanker, 1985.

Mike Petrilli, 2007/Summer

”Buying in” with Obama

Two weeks ago, I escaped from Washington’s oppressive humidity and headed with my wife’s family to New Hampshire’s Lake Sunapee. Like any Granite State vacationer I hoped for sunny days, cool, relaxing nights, and, of course, a visit from a major presidential candidate.
Continue reading

2008/06/21 Posted by | Policy | Leave a comment

Om å jobbe i utdanningstiden

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Vi er bekymret over at elever og studenter bruker for mye tid – eller tid i det hele tatt – på bijobber som ikke gir dem annet enn mer lomme/penger.

Det er nasjonale myndigheters ansvar å gi elever/studenter økonomiske rammer (gjerne, som foreslått av Espen Andersen og implementert flere steder i USA, også med pengebonuser for gode studieresultater) som gjør at de kan fokusere 100% på å bidra til å holde det akademiske trykket der de går så høyt som mulig.

De beste videregående skolene og universitetene ellers i verden har til sammenligning bevisst gjort studiene så krevende at det ikke er mulig å “jobbe” ved siden av dem.  Det gjør bl.a. at stedene har en intellektuell nerve som er aktiv omtrent døgnet rundt.  Kontrasten til et Universitetet i Oslo der elevene samles til noen “storforelesninger” i uken og ellers driver rundt i byen og hjemme er meget stor.

2008/06/21 Posted by | Policy | Leave a comment