Sunday, June 27, 2010

Julia Steiny: Loss of a common standard affects education and the republic | Education | projo.com | The Providence Journal

Julia Steiny: Loss of a common standard affects education and the republic | Education | projo.com | The Providence Journal

Julia Steiny: Loss of a common standard affects education and the republic



01:00 AM EDT on Sunday, June 27, 2010


America was founded as a nation of different peoples held together by the idea of Democracy and the primacy of the Common Good.
In an age when Congress itself is paralyzed by partisan interests, let us celebrate the Fourth of July by revisiting the democratic ideals on which the country was founded. And let’s remember that our Founding Fathers believed that the only force that would maintain their intrinsically precarious democracy was education — common knowledge and skills taught in Common Schools.
Toward the beginning of his latest book, “The Making of Americans: Democracy and Our Schools,” E.D. Hirsch Jr. recounts the famous story of Benjamin Franklin leaving the Constitutional Convention of 1787. A woman asked, “Well, Doctor, what have we got?” Franklin replied, “A Republic, Madam, if you can keep it.”
Even in the 18th century, immigrants poured into our then-new nation, so the Founders’ challenge was to design and teach a practical, community-first faith that could encompass all of what Hirsch calls the “tribes,” separated by religion, language, cultural habits or nations of origin. Tribes are naturally self-interested. S

Yo All My SCUSD Face book friends: Parents 4 Democratic Schools

Parents 4 Democratic Schools

Parents 4 Democratic Schools

Yo All My SCUSD Face book friends:

Yo All My SCUSD Face book friends:
Several of the group of parents that I scheme and connive with against the continued difficulties of having a collaborative process in dealing with priority schools would like to ask you to insist that:
“Improvement or turn-around programs for struggling schools must be flexible and participatory.
Teachers, students, and community members need to be involved in discussions and problem-solving. “
School site councils have not been advised of the changes happening at priority schools
Members of school site councils and the community would like to
Discuss an outline of changes at priority schools, expected outcomes.
Please contact your area board member and Superintendent Raymond

Schools Matter: Cuts Coming to Portland (OR) Schools

Schools Matter: Cuts Coming to Portland (OR) Schools


Cuts Coming to Portland (OR) Schools

From Carole Smith, Superintendent of the Portland Public Schools (OR):


Central support and operations: $3.1 million
PPS central services and operations — including administration, finance and payroll, transportation, building maintenance and more — will cut spending on materials and services, as well as reduce staff by the equivalent of 25 full-time positions (or FTE).
Special education and English as a Second Language: $4.6 million
Reductions to these services, staffed centrally but touching all schools and programs, include elimination of the equivalent of 52 full-time teaching positions through shifts in

Rotten to the Common Core: When Will Parents and Teachers Revolt?

Below is a letter from Georgia teacher, Cindy Lutenbacher, reprinted from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  The Business Roundtable's national standards movement is on Go, and coming along with it is the national testing movement, as announced last week, with two groups of corporate interests vying for control by leading two groups of governors by the nose to the $160 million that will pay the corporations to develop the national tests from which they will then profit mightily:  "Two big coalitions of states are competing for federal dollars to create a series of new national academic tests to replace the current patchwork system."

So please read Cindy's letter and take action through your PTA, your church, your PAC, or individually by calling 

Free Technology for Teachers: Fighting the Locked Net Monster

Free Technology for Teachers: Fighting the Locked Net Monster

Fighting the Locked Net Monster

Today, during Mario Armstrong's presentation at ISTE 2010 he introduced four challenges facing teachers and their use of technology in the classroom. One of those challenges is the "Locked Net Monster." The "Locked Net Monster" refers to school administrators and IT administrators who lock down teachers' and students' access to the web and the wonderful tools it offers. In the last year I've written a couple of posts addressing the challenge of dealing with the "Locked Net Monster." You can read one of them here and the other below.

What follows is a repost of my Least Restrictive Environment for Educators post.

In my work with special education students over the last six years, I have consistently heard from special education teachers and administrators the refrain of "creating a least restrictive environment for students." The idea being that in a least restrictive environment students have the most opportunities to experience new things, explore their creativity, and grow personally and academically. I completely agree with these ideas.

The irony I see in school leadership with regards to technology in the classroom is that often, by imposing strict internet filters, school leaders don't create a least restrictive environment for their faculty. Some of the most restrictive environments that I've heard of include the blocking of wiki services, gmail, and Google image search

NH school may be the first closed by the state - Boston.com

NH school may be the first closed by the state - Boston.com

NH school may be the first closed by the state

By Lynne Tuohy
Associated Press Writer / June 27, 2010
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UNITY, N.H.—The mural on the wall of rural Unity Elementary School proclaims July 27, 2008, as "the day history came to Unity," a reference to a visit by former presidential rivals Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to bury their campaign hatchets.
Two years later, Unity again is braced to make history -- as home to the first school ever closed by the state for life-threatening building violations.

Free Technology for Teachers: 327,534 Free Wikis! 5 Questions With Wikispaces

Free Technology for Teachers: 327,534 Free Wikis! 5 Questions With Wikispaces

327,534 Free Wikis! 5 Questions With Wikispaces

I just had a great meeting with Adam Frey and James Byers fromWikispaces. For those that aren't familiar with Wikispaces, they've given away nearly 330,000 free, advertising-free, wikis to teachers. Here's the recap of my conversation with Adam and James (note, I'm paraphrasing their responses, these are not direct quotes):

1. Why give away so many free, advertising-free, wikis when it clearly represents a loss of revenue for them?
When they started Wikispaces they weren't sure who would use the tool. So they made the wikis free and eventually realized that a lot of teachers were using the service. Today, roughly 2/3 of wikis are education related. In the end they don't look at giving away wikis as a loss of revenue. Rather they view giving away the wikis as grassroots marketing. If teachers like using Wikispaces and want more features such as greater privacy controls, they or their schools can purchase a premium plan, but Wikispaces isn't going to give a "hard-sell" on that. A lot of teachers are content with the free education plans.

2. Do you have plans for adding real-time components to your service?
At this time they don't have immediate plans for releasing a real-time component. Their focus is simplicity of use and making the features that they do offer, the best they can possibly be. They don't want to fall into a situation

Educational Change Challenge

Here's a good video that would be appropriate to share at the beginning of a workshop/ presentation/ conference about teaching with technology in the 21st Century. The video has me excited about the conversations already taking place at ISTE 2010 and the conversations still to come.

Some highlights from the video:
Who seriously believes that locking 25 students in a small room with one adult for several hours each day is the


Five Real-time Search Engines for You to Try

Today at Edubloggercon the post-lunch session was labeled as a technology apps smackdown. A smackdown is organized as a fast-paced presentation of many tools by many people. Everyone takes a turn sharing for two minutes. I came to the session late and missed out on the chance to share three real-time search engines with the audience. Real-time search engines draw their results from popular social media services like Delicious, Twitter,

Aviary for Education Launches in Beta

Over the last year Aviary's suite of tools has become one of my favorite free resources on the web. This week Aviary took another step up the ranks of my list of favorite free tools. This week Aviary launched, in beta, Aviary

Animated Explanations

Animated Explanations is a website for finding animated explanations of topics and concepts in the fields of health, technology, and work. The

NYC Public School Parents: Negative learning from high "value-added" teaching?

NYC Public School Parents: Negative learning from high "value-added" teaching?

Negative learning from high "value-added" teaching?

A new study on teacher “quality” shows that post-secondary teachers who did best in terms of their students' value-added test scores did worst in terms of their students being able to succeed in more advanced course work.
They hypothesize that this is the result of “teaching to the test” which hurts students in terms of their ability to engage in “deep learning.”
This is one more piece of evidence revealing how the incredibly simple-minded approach of

Admitting Error Is Very Hard To Do: Structures and Classroom Practice � Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

Admitting Error Is Very Hard To Do: Structures and Classroom Practice � Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

Admitting Error Is Very Hard To Do: Structures and Classroom Practice

Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve (1987-2006), presided over decades of economic prosperity and recession believing that a market-based economy needed little government regulation. When “irrational exuberance” occurred, the structure of market forces would correct economic bubbles, he and gazillions of economists believed. Not so for the Great Recession of 2008. Triggered by the sub-prime mortgage debacle, the international banking, credit, and financial institutions froze losing trillions of dollars of wealth in the blink of an eye.

Greenspan testified before a U.S. Congressional committee and admitted that he had erred in believing that self-correcting market structures and federal regulations were enough to avert a major recession. That kind of after-the-fact admission of error is rare among economists and educational reformers.

I have a far less dramatic and consequential mistake to confess. As an ardent public school reformer in classrooms, schools, and districts, I believed that structural reforms (e.g., creating non-graded schools; new

'Hands Across Sands' attracts thousands - Democratic Underground

'Hands Across Sands' attracts thousands - Democratic Underground

'Hands Across Sands' attracts thousands



MIAMI, June 27 (UPI) -- Some people hit the beaches in South Florida not to sunbath but to call for an end to offshore drilling as oil from the BP leak lapped the state's shores.

The Miami Herald reported groups of activists small and large Saturday added up to thousands participating in "Hands Across the Sands" to protest what one of them, Sarah Mullins, 20, of Kendall, Fla., called "the worst oil spill that has happened in my lifetime."

"This is our Miami, this is our beach, and we need to stop offshore oil drilling," she declared at South Beach.

She was among hundreds of protesters who held hands to create human chains in the sand, some chanting "No drill, no spill!"

Read more: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2010/06/27/Hands-Across-... /

At school focus groups, parents voice concerns, call for more input - The Boston Globe

At school focus groups, parents voice concerns, call for more input - The Boston Globe

At school focus groups, parents voice concerns, call for more input

By David Abel and Sean Teehan
Globe Staff | Globe Correspondent / June 27, 2010
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They wanted to know how plans to merge schools would affect their children, what it means to have an effective principal and quality teachers, and whether administrators could limit the number of times students have to change schools.
Scores of parents detailed their frustrations and hopes for Boston Public Schools at 14 focus groups around the city yesterday, organized by administrators to solicit input about school closings, program changes, and other plans for the district.
At one early morning gathering in Roxbury, about a dozen parents met with school officials and said they hoped their concerns would not go ignored.
Tomas Gonzalez, 39, a Hyde Park father of two children in Dorchester schools, said he has been frustrated with confusing mailings from the district. His main priority, he said, is for school officials to hire and train effective teachers and

French youths protest over higher retirement age

In this Thursday, June 24, 2010 photograph young people march during a demonstration in Paris. They are students, from college and high school, who haven't entered the job market yet but are already worried about what happens when they leave it. Welcome to France, where workers' rights are so much a part of existence that schoolchildren are as unsettled as their parents and grandparents about plans to raise the retirement age to 62. Workers around France went on strike Thursday to protest President Nicolas Sarkozy's plans to raise the retirement age to 62.In this Thursday, June 24, 2010 photograph young people march during a demonstration in Paris. They are students, from college and high school, who haven't entered the job market yet but are already worried about what happens when they leave it. Welcome to France, where workers' rights are so much a part of existence that schoolchildren are as unsettled as their parents and grandparents about plans to raise the retirement age to 62. Workers around France went on strike Thursday to protest President Nicolas Sarkozy's plans to raise the retirement age to 62. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)
By Christina Okello and Angela Charlton
Associated Press Writers / June 27, 2010
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PARIS—The front lines of the latest French protest against raising the retirement age revealed a remarkable sight: Not the slightest wrinkle, not a single gray hair.
Brandishing "Save our Pensions!" banners, students who haven't even entered the job market yet are already worried about what happens when they leave it.
Welcome to France, where workers' rights are so deeply entwined into the culture that even teenagers are unsettled about plans to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62, which is still among the lowest in Europe. The reform protest brought nearly a million people out into the streets across the country Thursday.
Young people fear they will lose the most from President Nicolas Sarkozy's pension reforms, which aim to cut France's ballooning deficit and make the money-losing pension system break even starting in 2018.
Despite the protest's colored balloons and jovial atmosphere, Julie Mandelbaum, a 23-year-old geopolitics student from the prestigious Institut de Sciences Politiques, was not in a party mood.

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