Lisa Gibes is 50CAN’s vice president of strategy and external relations. She lives in San Francisco, CA.

Here are news and opinion stories educators, advocates, policy wonks and makers are talking about today:

News & analysis:
Romney as governor fell short in push to revamp higher education in Massachusetts

Mitt Romney took over as Massachusetts governor in 2003 with a sweeping plan to overhaul the state’s public college system to cut waste, reduce costs and boost efficiency. “This is my opportunity to be bold,” he said in announcing the plan. But when Romney left office four years later, not a lot had changed. His strongest mark on higher education was for a merit scholarship program he championed for top high school students. Romney’s restructuring plan was stymied by a Democratic-run state Legislature where many lawmakers were irked about his bitter public feud with William Bulger, the University of Massachusetts president and one of the state’s most powerful and entrenched Democrats. Romney had criticized Bulger’s silence on his then-fugitive brother, a legendary Boston Irish-American mobster. Bulger ran the UMass system with an iron hand and had plenty of old pals in the Legislature eager to thwart Romney. (Washington Post) 

ED Autopsy: How School Data Goes Wrong
In May, the popular annual U.S. News & World Report “Best High Schools” ranking suffered several high-profile inaccuracies, caused in part by faulty school information in the federal Common Core of Data. At the federal STATS-DC conference here last week, sponsored by the National Center for Education Statistics, federal, state, district and media data experts diagnosed a “perfect storm” of tight data deadlines, tighter budgets, and missed failsafe systems that led to the errors. As my colleague Christina Samuels reported, the annual high school report includes descriptive information from the Common Core of Data, such as school size, poverty level based on free- and reduced-price-lunch participation, student-teacher ratios, and other characteristics. U.S. Newsreporter Robert J. Morse said these data are analyzed along with information from the College Board and International Baccalaureate programs about the number of students taking and passing advanced coursework. (Education Week – Inside School Research)

Maryland, Southern States Do Well in NAEP Study

Authors of a new report on National Assessment of Educational Progress test scores that compares scores both on a state-by-state basis and between the U.S. and other nations say that Maryland has shown the greatest improvement in scores between 1992 and 2011, while southern states have also made a strong showing. In comparison to achievement gains by other countries like Brazil and Germany, however, the U.S. seems to be mediocre and barely keeping up, according to the study. The report was written by Eric A. Hanushek, Paul E. Peterson, and Ludger Woessmann, professors at Stanford, Harvard and the University of Munich, respectively, and was released under the auspices of the Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard. There’s also an article in the journal Education Next’s fall edition about the study by its three authors. (Education Week – State Ed Watch) 

New York:
Oversight for Preschool Special Education

New York State’s program of special education services to prekindergarten children with learning, developmental or other disabilities clearly needs stronger oversight. The program has been beset by rising costs, conflicts of interest and outright fraud in private companies providing these services. Late last month, Thomas DiNapoli, the state comptroller, issued three damning audits of prekindergarten service companies whose owners have since been hit with criminal charges for defrauding the state. A company called Capital District Beginnings improperly diverted $800,000. The owner of a Brooklyn company called Special Education Associates Inc., who has pleaded guilty to defrauding the government, paid his wife $150,000 as his assistant executive director while she was earning $90,000 a year as a full-time professor at the City University of New York. (New York Times) 

Victor Dorff: Education’s cheating epidemic

Cheating was, is and probably always will be a fact of life. Recently, technology has provided new ways to cheat, but advanced electronics can’t be blamed for our increasing willingness to tolerate it. Once upon a time, being an honorable person included the notion that your word was your bond, and integrity was a crucial element in establishing a good reputation. At least, that was part of the narrative that made up our social compact. My teaching experience tells me, however, that lying and cheating are seen by a lot of kids today as a crucial part of any path to success. The only shame is in getting caught. Students tell me that math is the easiest course in which to cheat because they can program calculators before a test and cheat undetected. An English teacher told me she no longer counts her vocabulary quizzes in her students’ grades because she hasn’t found a way to stop them from copying the answers. And our school’s not-uncommon policy is basically to forgive a first offense and to enter it into the permanent record only if the student is caught again. (Los Angeles Times) 


Recent Posts

More posts from Today in Education

See All Posts