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Archive for January, 2009

The Spectacle Of Overstimulated Edu-Cons

In his final column on the editorial pages of the New York Times, neo-conservative Bill Kristol unhappily conceded that with the election of Barack Obama, America has now seen “the end of the conservative era.” But his fellow “true believers” in the laissez-faire market who inhabit the world of education — the edu-cons — seem intent upon living in the past.

WCTU: Ideological Fore-Mothers Of Rick Hess?

Woman's Christian Temperance Union: Ideological Fore-Mothers of Rick Hess?

The edu-market fundamentalists have been making themselves into quite a spectacle in recent days,  as they respond to the stimulus package that has begun to take shape in Washington DC. Unchastened by the fact that it was the policies that they pushed for the last quarter century — deregulation and privatization, unfettered and uncontrolled markets —  which got us into this  hole, they now proclaim that we need more of “the hair of the dog that bit us” as a remedy to one nasty economic hangover. Who cares that the stimulus package is all that stands between America and a depression? “Bring  it on,” they chant in unison, in an echo of George Bush’s fated approach to Iraq. More »

Blog Buzz for Brooklyn HS Science Project

Acceleration Due to Gravity: Super Mario BrothersGlenn Elert, a physics teacher at Midwood HS at Brooklyn College, has attracted a good deal of attention from the blogosphere in recent days, thanks to a project that had his students measure the force of gravity in the world of Super Mario Bros.

Elert, who has taught at Midwood since 1992, maintains several science education websites, including The Physics Factbook™, “an encyclopedia of scientific essays written by high school students that can be used by anybody. It is an exercise in library research methods in which students are sent out in search of a measurement with the intent of having them find more than just a number with a unit.” More »

Lilly Ledbetter Day

Obama signs Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into lawPresident Obama today signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Named after a veteran Goodyear employee who learned she had long been receiving less pay than her male counterparts, the law better protects workers from pay discrimination.

The official White House blog posted Obama’s remarks, along with those of the first lady and Ledbetter herself; the blog also links to the full text of the bill, on which you can comment.

Gail Collins in the Times places Ledbetter in a “long line of working women who went to court and changed a little bit of the world in fights that often brought them minimal personal benefit.”

Hat tip to Fred Klonsky, who has declared today “Lilly Ledbetter Day.”

Today’s Ed News, Courtesy of GothamSchools

Education has been the topic of the day, with the stimulus package up for a vote on the Hill, Joel Klein in Albany, and education advocates at City Hall; and GothamSchools has been covering it all:

Klein says without state help, DOE could lay off 15,000 educators

Advocates urge school construction with federal stimulus funds

Lawmakers seize on Klein-time to complain about his control

Halfway through the year, state approves DOE’s spending plan

Mills: Slow down, but don’t stop, promised CFE funding increases

Confirm Hilda

Republicans in the Senate have vowed to hold up the confirmation of Congresswoman Hilda Solis as President Obama’s labor secretary.

The Times editorial board weighs in:

The delay in confirming Ms. Solis isn’t because the Senate needs to know more. It’s a way for Republican senators to score tough-guy points with business constituents who are driven to distraction by the thought of unions.

The betting is that Ms. Solis will be confirmed. It’s past time to get on with it.

Stimulus Plan to Include $150 Billion for Schools

The House of Representatives is expected to pass President Obama’s $825 billion economic stimulus package, a good portion of which will go to education, the New York Times reports:

The economic stimulus plan that Congress has scheduled for a vote on Wednesday would shower the nation’s school districts, child care centers and university campuses with $150 billion in new federal spending, a vast two-year investment that would more than double the Department of Education’s current budget.

And on Jan. 25, the Times reported that New York City could receive at least $1.6 billion in federal education aid.

It’s not too late to tell your legislators to quickly pass the stimulus plan — use the UFT’s simple online fax tool.

Books For Boys

[Editor’s note: miss brave is the pseudonym for a second-year elementary school teacher in Queens. She blogs at miss brave teaches nyc, where this post originally appeared.]

On a recent Friday afternoon I sat down with William and asked him a question I hardly ever get to ask my students in our stressful world of labels and checklists: “What do you like?” I wrote his answers on a post-it: motorcycles, bikes, cool cars, airplanes, skateboards, scooters and the New York Mets (especially Carlos Beltran).

“Wow,” I said as I surveyed the list, “you really like things that go!”
More »

Eduwonkette Rides Into The Sunset… For Now, We Hope

Having once undertaken and completed the marathon known as “the dissertion,”  I fully understand the decision of Jennifer Jennings [Eduwonkette] to turn over the keyboard to that task. But academia’s gain is the education world’s — and the edublogosphere’s — loss. Here’s hoping it’s temporary, and that the ability to impact on the real world of schools continues to inspire that masked woman.

Gates takes us back to the future

Bill Gates is out to transform American education the way he transformed American technology.  Too bad he doesn’t know nearly as much about the former as he does the latter.

After years of dismantling iconic New York high schools (some of them admittedly having outlived their greatness), he now admits that, “many of the small schools we invested in did not improve students’ achievement in any significant way.” At least that’s what he told New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. More »

Goosing the DOE

It’s official. Canada geese have been implicated as the cause of the nearly disastrous plane landing on the Hudson River recently. The pilot, “Sully” Sullenberger saved more than 150 lives by pulling off a miracle made possible not by mere luck or apocryphal divine intervention purely but rather through application of judgment developed over 40 years of professional experience. More »

Jan. 31 Deadline for Scholarship Applications

Jan. 31 is the deadline for high school seniors to apply for a UFT college scholarship from the $1 million the UFT awards each year to academically excellent and financially eligible students from New York City public schools. To receive the $5,000 scholarship, those selected must be accepted in a full-time, matriculated, degree-granting program at an accredited college or university. Visit the new Scholarship Fund Web site with an introductory video by Randi Weingarten. If you have trouble accessing this Flash-based site, you can also get more information and application materials at the UFT Web site.

They Get It

As I was gathering a week’s worth of newspapers for recycling, I came across last Sunday’s “The City” section of the New York Times, which I had overlooked at the time.

The feature, ‘Obama, Pave Atlantic Avenue,’ comprises suggestions for a New Deal under the Obama administration from a wide swath of New Yorkers — from workers to artists to university presidents. After posting the UFT’s new TV ad, advice for Obama from students, and gearing up for the budget fight to protect classrooms, I was immediately struck by a few of these. Some New Yorkers really get it. [All emphases below are mine.]

City bus driver

I drive a bus for a living, but I’ve got two kids, and I’m a dad for life. So I’d say we need bigger and better schools and hospitals, especially in neighborhoods like Bushwick in Brooklyn, where I live. Roads and bridges, they have other chances to get fixed, but kids get only one chance to go to school.

More »

New York Teacher

Highlights from the latest issue of New York Teacher:

Delegates call for 'full mobilization' against school cuts

The UFT Delegate Assembly voted unanimously to “mount an all-out fight against disinvestment in public education.”

Teachers at the KIPP AMP Academy Charter School in Crown Heights informed the school’s administration that they want the UFT to represent them.

The UFT held the first in a series of conferences for members in the Absent Teacher Reserve pool to teach job search skills and to tape “video cover letters” to post on the union’s new job-bank Web site. More »

Investing in our children

UFT’s new TV ad, “Infrastructure,” stresses the importance of investing in education, even in the current economic climate. In the 30-second spot an announcer says, “New York City teachers work hard to give [children] the quality education they deserve. Kids rarely get a second chance. So even in difficult times, investing in our children cannot be put on hold because good public schools are the foundation of a strong society.”

Dear Mr. President…

Dear Mr. President...

Soon after Election Day, NYSUT asked members and students to share their thoughts and concerns about the state of our nation and help President Obama prioritize his long t0-do list.

One heart-wrenching letter from a fourth-grader at PS 97 in the Bronx is after the jump.

NYSUT has more student letters, plus lesson plans, here.

More »