Education shorts

by David Safier

Ed_shortsAnother collection of education articles cluttering up my desktop.

  • I posted yesterday about an online database listing specific and private information schools collect about students which willl be used by private education companies. It's a developing story. It looks like the U.S. Ed Department wrote regulations in 2011 allowing release of student information without parental consent. Now Louisiana, one of the states cooperating with the nonprofit inBloom that's collecting the student information and putting it on the Amazon cloud, is withdrawing its students' data. We'll see if other states withdraw from this dangerous venture as well. (At this point, Arizona isn't participating in the data sharing.)
  • Objections to the Common Core are mounting, and not just from the far right which sees this as one more link in the vast federal conspiracy chain. Progressive educators are worried both about the push for an overly prescriptive curriculum and an increased emphasis — if that's possible — on standardized testing. Case in point: a column in Education Week, Time for Teacher Unions to Hop Off the Common Core Train.
  • Third graders won't move onto the fourth grade in Arizona beginning next school year if their scores on a reading test are too low. This is one of the many education "reforms" brought to Arizona from Florida. Since it's already a done deal, the important questions about implentation are: where will the required reading line be drawn and what kind of extra enrichment will be given to the students who are held back?
  • In a bit of good news, Ed Supe John Huppenthal is a fan
    of language immersion programs, where students are taught in both
    English and, usually, Spanish. Scottsdale, Cave Creek and Deer Valley
    have language immersion classes that seem to be a big hit with parents
    and students. Huppenthal: “I’m jealous because I grew up in south Tucson
    but I never learned Spanish.” Would that he felt the same kind of loss
    from not learning more about Hispanic culture and history in a Mexican
    American Studies class.
  • Speaking of MAS, TUSD is proposing a new mystery class
    for freshmen (apparently even the Board doesn't know the details)
    called "Ninth Grade Culture, Identity and Transformation: A Culturally
    Relevant Viewpoint." This development bears close watching, especially
    since the District feels the need to run the course past the State Dept.
    of Ed to get its blessing.
  • It looks like Obama's pick for Commerce Secretary
    is Penny Pritzker, a former member of the Chicago Board of Ed who comes
    from the Arne Duncan education camp. She's a big charter school
    booster, is fine with shutting down schools and emphasizes that schools
    are places to train America's workforce more than places to encourage
    a wholistic, whole person education. (Not much verification on
    this yet, but it's a story worth following.)
  • Finally, the best, brand new source for links to articles about what's
    being discussed in progressive education circles is The Network of
    Public Education. If you "Like" its Facebook page, you can keep up on what's being talked about as you scroll through what your friends are up to.

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