"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"...no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities." – Thomas Jefferson

Friday, December 9, 2011

2011 Medley #15

Testing, Video Games, Learning in Utero, Facebook, Evaluations, New York's Teachers, Status Quo

Do You Believe in Miracles?
...We know that there is a strong and undeniable correlation between family income and test scores. This correlation appears on the SAT, the ACT, the NAEP, and every other standardized test.

Corporate reformers claim that great teachers alone can close achievement gaps, and recently it has been the vogue to make bold claims for "miracle schools," where dramatic gains supposedly happened either because the school was a charter without a union or because the school was "transformed" by using federal funds to fire the staff and start over. If only it were that simple!

Violent Video Games Alter The Brain
After just one week of violent game play, the video game group members showed less activation in the left inferior frontal lobe during the emotional task and less activation in the anterior cingulate cortex during the counting task, compared to their baseline results and the results of the control group after one week. After the second week without game play, the changes to the executive regions of the brain were diminished.

You would have to wonder as well, if those who watch 10 hours of violent movies per week, might also exhibit a similar change in the brain.

What we learn before we're born
Pop quiz: When does learning begin? Answer: Before we are born. Science writer Annie Murphy Paul talks through new research that shows how much we learn in the womb -- from the lilt of our native language to our soon-to-be-favorite foods.
After women repeatedly read aloud a section of Dr. Seuss's The Cat in the Hat while they were pregnant, their newborn babies recognized that passage when they heard it outside the womb.

Friendly Advice For Teachers: Beware Of Facebook
Don't ever friend or follow your students on Facebook or Twitter, never post during work hours or using work materials such as a school computer, and certainly never post anything about your job online, especially about students

New York Principals Protest Role of Testing in Evaluations
...one good thing about the new evaluation system was that it had united teachers, principals and administrators in their contempt for the state education department.

Are half of New York’s teachers really ‘not effective?’
Last Thursday, he told an MIT conference audience how to quickly improve public schools. “I would, if I had the ability – which nobody does really – to just design a system and say, ‘ex cathedra, this is what we’re going to do,’ you would cut the number of teachers in half, but you would double the compensation of them and you would weed out all the bad ones and just have good teachers. And double the class size with a better teacher is a good deal for the students.” 
The mayor never cites any research to support his claims about what’s a good deal for students. Nor does he explain a sensible way to determine the bottom half of teachers — the ones who would be sent packing. But he should be forgiven on this point since there is, in fact, no such research and no such sensible way.

Insanity: Doing the Same Thing Over and Over Again and Expecting Different Results: HOW MANY DECADES BEFORE "REFORM" BECOMES "STATUS QUO"?
Our nation's current school reform agenda dates back to a time when U.S. Secretary of Eduction Arne Duncan was an underclassman at Harvard, a time of "Billie Jean" and "Flashdance." This hoary education "change" agenda that began with the wake-up call in the report "A Nation at Risk" has survived the passing decades, blossomed as No Child Left Behind, and re-emerged in the Obama administration's Race to the Top. Such reforms, advanced as offering an exciting, untraveled pathway, are more accurately described as driving along the same old road, just with our foot pressing down harder on the pedal. 
When approaches have been tried unsuccessfully over a couple of decades with less-than-stellar outcomes, we might expect the next policy, or at the very least the next "change," to lean in a new direction. But the seemingly permanent wave of test-based accountability, privatization, and choice has managed to soar past its silver anniversary almost entirely unscathed by the depredations of time and evidence.

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