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The Public School Insights Blog

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Better Late than Never

NSBA's Center for Public Education recently analyzed the academic performance, academic attainment, job prospects, civic involvement and health of people who take longer than the standard four years to graduate from high school. Their conclusion?

On-time graduation remains the best prospect for students, and districts should make on-time graduation the first priority for all students. But the extra work late graduates and their schools put toward earning a high school diploma pays off—not only in academic outcomes, but in every aspect of life including work, civic, and health. Late graduates do markedly better in all arenas than GED recipients and dropouts. And, when the data are controlled to compare students of equivalent socioeconomic status and achievement level, late graduates come close to on-time graduates’ achievement.

These findings could prove helpful to policymakers who yearn for consistent, valid methods for calculating high school graduation rates. Given that No Child Left Behind holds high schools accountable for improving graduation rates, the validity of those methods are pretty darn ...

The Honorable Lee Hamilton represented Indiana’s 9th congressional district for over three decades. After leaving Congress, he co-chaired the Iraq Study Group and served as Vice-Chair of the 9/11 Commission.

Now president of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and director of Indiana University's Center on Congress, he sits or has sat on the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, the President's Homeland Security Advisory Council, the FBI Director’s Advisory Board, the CIA Director’s Economic Intelligence Advisory Panel, and the Defense Secretary’s National Security Study Group.

A life of public service has fueled Representative Hamilton's commitment to civics education, a commitment he honors as co-chair of the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools. Representative Hamilton recently sat down with us for an interview on the significance of civic education at a time of political change and economic upheaval.

PUBLIC SCHOOL INSIGHTS: I've heard you say--or rather, write--that you have found a lot of young Americans don't necessarily know what it means to be American. They haven't really thought it over. I was wondering if you could describe the implications of what that means and what schools might be able to do about it.

HAMILTON: I think a representative democracy depends on an educated citizenry. It's very important that not only homes--parents--but also schools take on the responsibility of assuring that young people know how to become good citizens and they learn the attributes of good citizenship: Involvement in their community, listening to their friends and neighbors, trying to solve problems, reach a consensus, discuss, and to get a sense of democracy into their bones. So that they recognize that the question that Lincoln asked, whether this nation, so conceived and so dedicated, could long endure, is answered affirmatively.

I'm very concerned about what's happening today in our schools. You see so much emphasis upon math and science, and I'm certainly not opposed to that. We need that emphasis. But in many respects I think the emphasis there, in part because of the requirements of federal law, are reducing--diminishing--the amount of time that is spent on ...

Teacher-blogger Anthony Cody offers the last in a series of six guest blogs on the impact of the Federal Stimulus on public education. Read the previous five blogs here:

How would YOU spend $5 Billion?

In the last version of the Federal Stimulus bill there is $200 million for Districts that want to institute some form of performance pay for excellent teachers. There is funding for training and recruiting great teachers to high needs schools. There is another $100 million to figure out ways to alleviate chronic shortages of teachers.

But this is small change compared to the $5 billion new Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has been awarded, that he can spend at his discretion through what he is calling his “Race to the Top Fund.” http

So how would YOU spend $5 billion on our schools?

Here are some ideas:

Urban Teacher Residencies. As my last post described, one huge problem we face in urban districts is the level of teacher turnover. Intern programs have ...

Since Thursday, teacher-bloggers Ken Bernstein and Anthony Cody have been guest-blogging on the progress of the Stimulus. Here is Ken's take on what emerged from conference.

Now that we have a conference report...

It seems appropriate to revisit the impact of the Stimulus, formally known as the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), now that the House and Senate have agreed to the Conference Report and the President will sign it into law.

What will be in the law will not be as generous as the measure originally passed by the House, but is far superior to the version originally imposed on the Senate as the price of getting votes from the three Republican Senators who supported the measure, as well as keeping the votes of Democrats Ben Nelson of NE and Independent Joe Lieberman of CT. Much of what I offered in my original commentary remains, although some of the numbers have changed a bit. Thus the current national total for IDEA Part B is now 11.3 billion dollars over two years, rather than the original 13 billion. It is still a sufficient amount to ameliorate some of the financial pressures that would otherwise cost many teaching jobs, as noted in my original post. ...

In this fourth guest blog posting on the economy, schools and the stimulus, teacher-blogger Anthony Cody responds to Ken Bernstein's account of the economy's impact on two school districts in the Washington, DC area. (You can read the first and second postings in this series here and here.)

Ken Bernstein makes connections between education cuts and job losses and thus the broader economy. So let me try to drill down a bit into one aspect of school finance that people may need to understand better. The effects of teacher pay.

Recent educational reform has revolved around the idea that all students can learn at high levels, and that our schools should transform into places that set high expectations for everyone. We are building up dreams for our students. But these dreams come crashing down when their schools cannot retain teachers, and they are taught by poorly prepared substitutes, or revolving sets of novice interns. ...

Yesterday, we published guest postings on the economy, schools and the stimulus package by two teacher/bloggers: Ken Bernstein and Anthony Cody. Today, Ken responds to Anthony's posting. Bear in mind that the numbers have been changing fast as the bill races towards likely passage--so stay tuned.

Let me respond to Anthony Cody by examining in some more detail the impact of both stimulus and cuts upon the two school systems I know best: Arlington, Virginia, where I live; and Prince George’s County, Maryland, where I teach.

Virginia Governor Kaine would limit the cuts in state aid to local school districts to no more than $400/student. In Arlington, with about 18,300 students, that is a cut of $7.3 million in an FY2009 school budget of $350 million. That cut is just over 2%. Over two years, the total loss to the schools is $14.6 million. Examining the analysis available for the House version of the stimulus, over two years Arlington would have received $9.5 million, about 65% of what the state is cutting. Remember, cutting funds for schools represents cutting jobs, since the largest operational cost for schools is salaries and benefits. Cutting teacher jobs increases class sizes, with a concomitant impact upon student learning. ...

Earlier today, teacher/blogger Ken Bernstein offered his perspective of the current financial crisis, its impact on the nation's schools, and Congressional debate over the stimulus package that, after several iterations, seems to speeding towards adoption.

Now, Anthony Cody offers his account of the financial meltdown's effects on a single state, district and school.

Cody is a National Board Certified Teacher and secondary science coach in the Oakland CA city schools. He writes about education policy regularly at his blog “Living in Dialogue,” hosted at the Teacher Magazine website.

Anthony is a member of the Teacher Leaders Network and co-organizer of Accomplished California Teachers (ACT), a virtual network aimed at developing teacher leadership and influencing educational policy locally and at the state level.

When we hear about budget crises these days, the numbers are so immense that we lose track of their meaning where it counts, in the classrooms. California’s budget is up in the air, but the latest proposals from the ...

Veteran teacher Kenneth Bernstein teaches government at Eleanor Roosevelt High in Greenbelt MD and writes regularly (as “teacherken”) on education, national policy and other topics for the popular political blog DailyKos.

A member of the Teacher Leaders Network, Ken achieved National Board Certification (social studies/history) in 2005. Last fall, he was among a small group of teachers selected by the New York Times to contribute to the group blog Lesson Plans.

This is the first in a series of four guest blogs on schools and the financial crisis that we will publish in the coming days. Stay tuned later today for a contribution from National Board Certified teacher Anthony Cody.

I teach Government. I am also a political junkie. Thus I spend a lot of time reading, talking, thinking and writing about politics, the economy and, lately, the stimulus. I teach in one state (Maryland), live in another where I am political active (Virginia), and spend too much time around politicians on Capitol Hill. And here’s what I think. ...

vonzastrowc's picture

Hope for Common Ground?

For some time, the newspapers were full of stories about battles between education "reformers" and the education "establishment."  President Obama would have to choose sides, pundits declared.  We at Public School insights had some problems with this reductive story line.

The Hope Foundation was apparently equally skeptical.  The Foundation recently convened leaders from both sides of this supposed schism to create a single set of education recommendations for President Obama. (Three Learning First Alliance leaders were in this group.)   The report that emerged from their work is available here. ...

In less than 5 short years, "Teachers TV" has grown from an idea harbored by a British Schools Minister into a popular and influential British television channel devoted solely to education. Now, there are efforts afoot to help something similar take root in American soil.

We recently spoke with Andrew Bethell, Teachers TV's CEO and creative director. Bethell described the accomplishments of the television channel, which has broadcast thousands of often riveting mini-documentaries about what's happening in British schools.

The documentaries offer authentic accounts of successful practice and real-life struggles to improve. They also feature broad education reform strategies--without ever losing sight of those strategies' impact on actual schools and students. As Bethell is careful to point out, Teachers TV focuses on more than just teachers: It highlights the work of ...

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