FORMER VICE PRESIDENT and 2020 contender Joe Biden stood alongside American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on Tuesday evening in Houston and outlined the first major policy platform of his campaign – supercharging the federal investment in the country’s public schools in order to level the playing for poor students, students of color and those with disabilities and boost teacher pay, among many other things.
“It’s past time we treat and compensate our educators as the professionals they are, and that we make a commitment that no child’s future will be determined by zip code, parents’ income, race, or disability,” he said.
Biden is in good company with his grand gesture to K-12 education.
As a Teaching Ambassador Fellow at the U.S. Department of Education— a teacher on leave from my school for one year to help bring educator voice to the policy world— I recently had the opportunity to sit down with fellow teacher Lisa Clarke and Secretary Arne Duncan to discuss the role of private interests and public education.
Lisa and I asked Secretary Duncan questions we’ve heard from some teachers in recent roundtable discussions: Is there a corporate agenda at the U.S. Department of Education? Do philanthropists like Bill Gates and Eli Broad earn the right to make decisions with their donations to public education? This short video gives us a glimpse into how decisions are made and whose interests are taken into consideration.
It is often assumed that private schools do a better job educating children than public schools, but a new book, “The Public School Advantage,” which is being published this week, shows this isn’t the case. Here’s a piece the authors, Christopher Lubienski, a professor in the Department of Educational Organization and Leadership at the College of Education at University of Illinois, and Sarah Theule Lubienski, professor of mathematics education in the College of Education at the University of Illinois. The Lubienskis looked at two huge datasets of student mathematics performance and found that public school students outperform private school ones, when adjusted for demographics.
By Christopher and Sarah Lubienski
Greater school choice for families and greater autonomy for schools leads to greater academic outcomes, right? Maybe not. Using two nationally representative datasets, we recently conducted one of the most comprehensive studies ever performed of school type and achievement in mathematics—a subject widely held to be the best measure of in-school learning. We analyzed instruction and performance for over 300,000 elementary and middle school students in 15,108 public, charter, and private schools. What we found surprised us. Students in public schools actually outperform those in private schools.
“There aren’t many things that are more important to that idea of economic mobility — the idea that you can make it if you try — than a good education,” President Obama told students at the State University of New York in Buffalo in August.
It is hardly a partisan belief. Two decades ago, on signing the No Child Left Behind Act, President George W. Bush argued that the nation’s biggest challenge was to ensure that “every single child, regardless of where they live, how they’re raised, the income level of their family, every child receive a first-class education in America.”
This consensus is comforting. It provides a solution everyone can believe in, whether the problem is income inequality, racial marginalization or the stagnation of the middle class. But it raises a perplexing question too. If education is a poor child’s best shot at rising up the ladder of prosperity, why do public resources devoted to education lean so decisively in favor of the better off?
The anguished and often angry national debate over how to improve American educational standards, focused intently on grading students and teachers, mostly bypasses how the inequity of resources — starting at the youngest — inevitably affects the outcome.
Speaking in Providence, RI not too long ago, the post-speech conversation turned to college education. The word was that Brown University’s tuition alone had risen above $50,000 per year.
The above number is staggering. For the most part college students tune out during their four years on campus; that, or they memorize what’s needed to get As on the tests. Why then would any parent pay the sky-high tuition, and then barring parental help, what 18-year old would take on that kind of debt in order to be the recipient of lots of largely useless information?
Brown is course not alone in this regard. Whether at public or private schools, college tuition over the years has skyrocketed. One factor, though it’s certainly not as big as analysts presume, is the federal government’s growing role in the financing of education.
With the above entity increasingly the only market for college loans, and with that same entity rather generous with the money of others, colleges and universities have very little incentive to do anything but raise tuition. Since our federal government is price insensitive, tuition can keep rising.
For years, feminists have lamented the sorry state of girls in math and science, as they lag behind their male peers in test scores and shy away from careers in engineering and technology. Yet perhaps the most frustrating recent development on the topic is that some of the very programs designed to help girls get ahead may be holding them back—or are simply misguided.
Take single-sex math and science classes. While they seem like a logical way to give girls a jump-start in these subjects, new research suggests this initiative—championed over the past two decades as a possible solution—may backfire.
In a study published last year, psychologist Howard Glasser at Bryn Mawr College examined teacher-student interaction in sex-segregated science classes. As it turned out, teachers behaved differently toward boys and girls in a way that gave boys an advantage in scientific thinking. While boys were encouraged to engage in back-and-forth questioning with the teacher and fellow students, girls had many fewer such experiences. They didn’t learn to argue in the same way as boys, and argument is key to scientific thinking. Glasser suggests that sex-segregated classrooms can construct differences between the sexes by giving them unequal experiences. Ominously, such differences can impact kids’ choices about future courses and careers.
Dec. 19–Nearly midway through a school year affected by education funding cuts, area school officials say they’re having to do more with less.
"It’s certainly been a challenging year," said Ray Sauerwein, Northwestern Area School District’s superintendent. "Some schools have fared better than others. We’re OK here, but I know it’s been tough throughout the state."
The Legislature this spring approved a state budget that called for a 6.6 percent cut in general education funding per student for public schools in 2012. Gov. Dennis Daugaardhad proposed 10 percent cuts throughout the state budget. Daugaard recently announced his budget plan for next year that includes an increase of 2.3 percent in state K-12 education funding, coupled with a one-time investment of $12 million.
The budget cuts have meant that teachers often didn’t get raises. Some school officials have said they eliminated positions, raised health insurance and deductibles and even put two grade levels together.
A new report released yesterday states that nearly half of students in grades 7 through 12 experience sexual harassment in school. The report, “Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment at School,” was published by the American Association of University Women (AAUW), and based on an online survey of 1,965 students (1,002 girls and 963 boys).
The report has caused a furor. A New York Times headline reported, “Widespread Sexual Harassment of Students in Grades 7 to 12.” Other news outlets called sexual harassment in schools "prevalent," "rampant,""pervasive," and even an "epidemic."
Sexual harassment — in schools, in the workplace, and elsewhere — is a real problem, and if America’s students say they are being sexually harassed at such rates, there is something seriously wrong.
Everyone else has received a memo with crucial information to read beforehand, but you didn’t.
How do you feel? Uncomfortable, awkward, out of place.
“You don’t feel prepared,” said Andy McGuire, a nuclear medicine physician by training. “That’s what a child feels like when they go to kindergarten unprepared.”
Speaking to a large crowd Thursday at the Women’s Leadership Council’s annual luncheon, McGuire said brain research shows the importance of quality early childhood education for children from birth to age 6.
When I hear pundits – from both political parties these days – talk about improving education for children through choice, vouchers or whatever the sound bite of the day is, I wonder which children they are talking about. Out of 55.2 million K-12 students in America, 49.2 million of them are in our public schools. Only a small percentage of children go to private or parochial schools. So where’s the vision for our public schools? What are they looking at?
With numbers like that, we should be focusing the bulk of our time and energy to making education what we want it to be for the vast majority of our children. We need to have a more global vision for ensuring that our public schools are managed and equipped for students today and tomorrow. Instead of engaging in productive dialogue about public education, the discourse today is often destructive and filled with misinformation and inaccurate data.