The Public School Insights Blog
As Americans swoon over Finland's celebrated education system, we often forget about another high achiever just to our North: Canada. Canada scores among the top three countries in PISA assessments of 15-year-olds' reading literacy and science.
What are the reasons for this success? Canadian education leader Dr. Raymond Théberge believes they include Canada's commitment to education equity and its strong support for struggling schools. He also credits the country's general dedication to the health and well-being of its children and families: "We cannot expect the schools to solve all of our society's problems."
We recently spoke with Dr. Théberge, who in 2005 became Director General of the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC). (In Canada, responsibility for education rests entirely with the thirteen provinces and territories. The CMEC helps provincial education ministries collaborate with one another and the federal government on strategies for improving Canadian schools.)
You can download our entire 17-minute conversation here (a transcript of highlights appears below).
Alternatively, you can listen ...
There’s an alternative electoral map floating around, one that has Obama even farther ahead of McCain.
The National Association of Student Councils (NASC) held a mock election during its 2008 National Conference in June 2008. (Sponsored by the National Association of Secondary School Principals, NASC promotes student leadership in middle and high schools across the country.)
Here are the results of that election:
The candidates were tied in the green states. The purple states did not participate. (They do not represent victory by some insurgent third party--Nader and Barr presumably did not win, place or show in this contest.)
According to NASC:
Student delegates voting in the NASC Mock Election selected Senator Barack Obama as president. In a state-by-state breakdown, NASC matched the national election results in twenty-seven (27) states.
The maps below show the comparisons of the NASC and National Election Results as of Nov. 5, 2008. (National Election results source: www.cnn.com) ...
Just over a week ago, education blogger Corey Bower wondered whether a Barack Obama victory could narrow the achievement gap. Among the reasons he cites: Obama could be a role model for African American students; Obama could unsettle traditional stereotypes that reinforce low achievement among students of color.
One possibility Bower's thoughtful and cautious analysis does not consider: Schools have an opportunity to use Obama's victory as a teachable moment. Without descending to partisan politics, schools can capitalize on a new sense of civic empowerment among students who, rightly or wrongly, have long felt disenfranchised. In her recent Public School Insights interview, Harvard researcher Meira Levinson put it this way: ...
...and so should you. ...
- Your vote is uniquely informed by the needs of the hundreds, maybe thousands, of students you have touched. Give them a voice in this election.
- A vote for education is a vote for the economy, national security, and the environment.
- Ensuring that our children are healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged requires the commitment of policymakers. Schools alone cannot accomplish this task.
- By voting, you lead by example and model for your students how to be a responsible and civically engaged citizen.
- The next president and Congress will decide the course of No Child Left Behind.
Tackling "the Empowerment Gap": An Interview with Jefferson County, KY Superintendent Shelley Berman
As the celebrated superintendent of Hudson, Massachusetts schools, Dr. Sheldon Berman distinguished himself as one of the nation's leading champions of civic education. Since coming to Louisville, Kentucky a year ago, Berman has maintained his passionate commitment to civics, though he has altered his approach somewhat to meet the specific needs of students in his large urban district.
Berman recently spoke with us about his work in Jefferson County Public Schools. He told us about the impact of No Child Left Behind on civics education, the consequences of the "Empowerment Gap" for low-income students, and the implications of this historic presidential election for civics education.
Download the full, 15-minute interview here, or listen to five minutes of highlights:
Researcher Meira Levinson warns of a civic achievement gap that is every bit as troubling as academic achievement gaps. Poor students and students of color know less than their wealthier,non-minority peers about civics and government and they are less likely to vote or participate in other civic activities. Even worse, they are far less likely to believe they can make a difference through civic action.
Just days before an historic presidential election whose results could hinge on poor and minority voters, Levinson spoke with us about these gaps--and what schools can do to narrow them. Download the full, 20-minute interview here. ...
If there was ever a time to shore up support for poor students' families, it is now.
Newspapers across the country are reporting a spike in homelessness that could have dire consequences for schools in the nation's most distressed communities. (For a sampling of recent stories on the issue, see here, here, here, here and here.)
Homeless students who worry about where they'll sleep at night, or where they'll find their next meal, have that much less energy to devote to math or reading. Many move from school to school as their parents shuttle between shelters and temporary living arrangements with friends or family. Climbing school mobility rates depress student achievement. ...
Here's our lineup of recent success stories on Public School Insights:
- Teachers in a California middle school devise successful strategies for bringing special education students into the mainstream, 10/23/2008
- When teachers teach teachers in a rural New York school district, students reap the benefits, 10/16/2008
- In California,a school district and a teachers union join forces to help vulnerable students, 10/9/2008 ...
Click here to browse dozens of Public School Insights interviews with extraordinary education advocates, including:
- 2013 Digital Principal Ryan Imbriale
- Best Selling Author Dan Ariely
- Family Engagement Expert Dr. Maria C. Paredes
The views expressed in this website's interviews do not necessarily represent those of the Learning First Alliance or its members.
Excellence is the Standard
At Pierce County High School in rural southeast Georgia, the graduation rate has gone up 31% in seven years. Teachers describe their collaboration as the unifying factor that drives the school’s improvement. Learn more...
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