Here’s what educators, advocates, wonks and policymakers are talking about today:
News & analysis
ESEA bill poised for hearing, but will it gain Senate traction?
On Tuesday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee holds its big hearing on legislation overhauling the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, with a cast that will feature teachers, administrators, and other education stakeholders. Right after the panel’s 15-7 vote on Oct. 20, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, one of the co-authors, said he’d like to move it to the Senate floor as soon as possible. He said he was hoping to get it passed in time to stop the Obama administration’s package of waivers from current provisions of the law, now known as the No Child Left Behind Act., They’re set to go into effect early next year. Harkin thinks it would more effective to have honest-to-goodness legislation. (Politics K-12)
If Google software engineers earn $250K, why aren’t more students learning programming?
Prominent technologist Jacques Mattheij recently blogged an eye-popping salary quote revealed to him by an under-30 programmer at Google: “I’m pushing $250K per year.” So if software engineers at Google and other tech companies are raking in that kind of dough and are in such high demand, why is it so tough to get more students into programming? President Obama is focused on boosting the number of students pursuing science, technology, engineering, and math degrees, but that doesn’t change the fact that many schools don’t even have enough computers for students to conduct simple Google searches, let alone learn the basics of programming. Unfortunately, even if such efforts manage to build a love for programming in students, that enthusiasm could get stifled in the first years of college. The New York Times recently reported that many students who head to college eager to pursue science, technology, engineering, and math degrees are weeded out by the entry-level courses. A student is likely to turn away from computer science if she’s struggling in it and her grade negatively impacts her GPA. (GOOD)
Rhode Island: U.S. education secretary praises RI push to help undocumented students
Education Secretary Arne Duncan says he’s encouraged some states are letting the children of undocumented immigrants pay in-state tuition at public colleges. Duncan pointed to Rhode Island, where the Board of Governors for Higher Education unanimously approved in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants starting next year. Duncan said in an interview that children of illegal immigrants are either going to be taxpayers and productive citizens or are going to be on the sidelines. (ProJo)
Maryland: Baltimore teachers can establish school facilities fund today
According to a story by our City Hall Reporter Julie Scharper, voters will have the opportunity to fuel to an increasingly hot topic of the city’s dilapidated school buildings on the November 8 ballot. An amendment to the city’s charter will appear on the ballot on Tuesday, which would establish a fund specifically for renovating and upgrading city-owned school buildings. The amendment, proposed by City Council President Bernard “Jack” Young earlier this year, is one of several efforts in the last year to garner attention and pressure elected officials to address the estimated $2.8 billion in facilities improvements needed throughout the district. (InsideEd)
Maryland: School for alternative education adds car care center
The prospective mechanics are among about 100 students, ages 14 to 21, who attend the transitional school from at least 15 public school districts in Maryland. Founded in 1994, the school offers six vocational certification programs in various trades, including barbering, horticulture and culinary arts. Andy Gibson, 16, a trainee, said he is learning to do everything a customer might need, from an oil change to tire rotation. “I have attended a lot of schools in the past, but this one is my favorite,” he said. “I know that I am different, but I am high functioning. This school is teaching me all the basics. I am not struggling here. I am thriving. One day, I plan to build my own car from the ground up.” (Baltimore Sun)
New York: Who wants to run Buffalo’s failing schools?
With the Buffalo Public Schools under the gun to get turnaround plans in by Jan. 1 for seven failing schools, the district is — again — asking outside groups to submit proposals. While the deadline for those proposals isn’t until next week, each group that plans to submit a proposal had to file an initial notice with the district late last week. Fourteen groups — eight local and six out of town — have filed an initial notice. (Buffalo News)
Georgia: Group seeks end to ban of immigrants from schools
Opponents of a policy that effectively prohibits illegal immigrants from attending Georgia’s most competitive state colleges and universities will ask the university system on Tuesday to overturn it, reports Georgia Public Broadcasting. They plan to argue the law unfairly creates two classes of students and goes against the principles of equality and justice for all, GPB reports. The board in 2010 adopted the policy that prohibits any state college or university from admitting illegal immigrants if it has turned away academically qualified applicants in the prior two years. (Biz Journal)
Politics aside — for new teachers it’s still November
Many rookies hit the ground running when they should really hit the ground walking at a brisk pace they can maintain. They overpromise things like pizza parties, constant parent contact, and behavior management systems that require hours of afterschool paper work. They are so afraid of what will happen if they stop moving that they can’t sit down long enough to take attendance. Meanwhile, they’re learning that the achievement gap–this source of both outrage and motivation–sometimes manifests itself in the form of 7-year-olds who curse at teachers, or bullies who torment special education students, or any of the many other idealism-meets-reality, non-mission-statement-matching moments that happen in beginning teachers’ classrooms. They are learning hard life lessons in front of kids who are supposed to be learning from them. (Roxanna Elden via Straight Up)
Teaching with the enemy
The reform movement has long demonized Weingarten and her union — sometimes with good reason — and that is reflected in “Class Warfare.” But Brill himself is now where the reform movement needs to go, if it hopes to change how kids are taught. Randi Weingarten can’t be the enemy anymore. She could be the reformers’ best friend, if only they’d let her. (Joe Nocera)
The wrong debate about college
A recent Intelligence Squared debate tackled the proposition that “Too Many Kids Go to College.” A better proposition to debate would have been: “Too many kids go to the wrong college for them.” That would have gotten to the heart of the matter –we have created a caste system with academic four-year baccalaureate programs on top, and we view programs that provide applied learning, occupational skills training, and employer engagement as second-best. The dominant “college for all” approach leads to the mainstream ideal of completing an academic program of study in high school and then immediately attending a residential four-year college. But the field of post-secondary education is much broader, also including two-year degrees, certificates, apprenticeships, and occupational training. While it’s clear that a high school diploma alone is likely to lead to low-wage jobs, research shows that not everyone needs a four-year degree to support themselves. Depending on the field, certificates and associate’s degree holders can out-earn those with four-year degrees. (The New Republic)