Here are news and opinion stories educators, advocates, policy wonks and makers are talking about today:
News & analysis:
Attention Disorder or Not, Pills to Help in School
When Dr. Michael Anderson hears about his low-income patients struggling in elementary school, he usually gives them a taste of some powerful medicine: Adderall. The pills boost focus and impulse control in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Although A.D.H.D is the diagnosis Dr. Anderson makes, he calls the disorder “made up” and “an excuse” to prescribe the pills to treat what he considers the children’s true ill — poor academic performance in inadequate schools. “I don’t have a whole lot of choice,” said Dr. Anderson, a pediatrician for many poor families in Cherokee County, north of Atlanta. “We’ve decided as a society that it’s too expensive to modify the kid’s environment. So we have to modify the kid.” (New York Times)
Calif. Program Takes Aim at ‘Teacher-Diversity Gap’
As the country’s K-12 student population grows more ethnically diverse, students of color face the troubling possibility of never having a teacher who looks like them.
According to federal data, more than 40 percent of students are nonwhite, compared to just 17 percent of teachers, and that mismatch appears to be on the rise.
But a new project here is taking a deeper aim at the factors contributing to what’s sometimes called the “teacher-diversity gap.” The organizers hope to encourage more adults from a variety of ethnicities and backgrounds to enter the profession—and stay in it. (Education Week)
Wash. Ballot Item No ‘Trigger,’ Backers Say
When most people hear of a proposal that allows for the creation of charter schools through a “petition signed by a majority of parents,” one thing likely leaps to mind: parent trigger. Some of the opponents of a Washington state ballot item that would for the first time allow charters schools are pointing to that language and arguing that it would establish a trigger policy in the state, similar to controversial laws on the books in seven states. But backers of initiative 1240—and it least one neutral voice on the matter—say it’s not so. (Education Week – Charters and Choice)
Common Core Catches On With Private Schools
The common standards aren’t just for public schools, it seems. With all but four states having adopted them since 2010, districts have little choice but to implement the Common Core State Standards. But many private schools are also making the transition. More than 100 Roman Catholic dioceses spanning the nation from Los Angeles to Philadelphia, have decided to adopt the standards, according to a recent survey from the National Catholic Educational Association. Even the El Paso Diocese in Texas, a state that wanted no part of the common standards, signaled last spring that it was signing on. (Education Week)
Hawaii Union, District Still at Odds Over Contract
Hawaii teachers have still not come to an agreement with the state over a new contract, in what some commentators think could lead to a strike. Officials from the state and the Hawaii State Teachers Association were in mediation with the Federal Mediation and Reconciliation Service that the union reportedly walked away from, saying it was limited to 10 days. (Education Week – Teacher Beat)
Jay Greene: The Imaginary Teacher Shortage
Last week’s presidential debate revealed one area of agreement between the candidates: We need more teachers. “Let’s hire another hundred thousand math and science teachers,” proposed President Obama, adding that “Governor Romney doesn’t think we need more teachers.” Mr. Romney quickly replied, “I reject the idea that I don’t believe in great teachers or more teachers.” He just opposes earmarking federal dollars for this purpose, believing instead that “every school district, every state should make that decision on their own.” (Wall Street Journal)