Money for nothing

New Jersey courts ordered the state to spend a “huge amount of money” on failing urban school districts, writes Myron Magnet in a City Journal article on power-hungry judges. The “Abbott” money hasn’t equalized results.

The 31 Abbott districts received more money than the rich districts, because inner-city kids have greater needs. The court funded all-day kindergarten, half-day preschools for three- and four-year-olds and transition programs to work or college, plus money to build or update school buildings.

What are New Jersey taxpayers accomplishing with the $22,000 to $27,000 they spend per pupil each year in the big inner-city districts? On test scores and graduation rates in Newark, the needle has scarcely flickered.

As the E3 education-reform group’s report Money for Nothing notes, high schools in the state’s biggest city can’t produce substantial numbers of juniors and seniors who can pass tests of eighth-grade knowledge and skills, and the report quotes testimony to the same effect before the state legislature about Camden’s schools.

Urban high schools hire security guards — 20 for one Trenton school — rather than creating a school culture that encourages students to want to learn, Magnet writes.

(Inner-city students)  need teachers rewarded for merit, not longevity, and a curriculum that stresses skills, knowledge, and striving, not grievance and unearned self-esteem. They need a school culture that expands their sense of opportunity and possibility strongly enough to counteract the culture of militant ignorance and failure that surrounds them in the narrow world they know.

Without that, money doesn’t make much difference.

 

CC report: Focus on motivated students

California community colleges offer “open access and limited success,” says a new task force report, which calls for focusing scarce resources on new students and motivated students who choose an academic plan and make progress toward a certificate or degree.  Students who’ve taken lots of classes without completing a credential would go on wait lists and eventually lose fee waivers.

Also on Community College Spotlight:  High schools and colleges are trying to teach “financial literacy” to students before they run up huge debts they’ll struggle to repay.

Asian-Americans face more school bullying

Asian-American students endure more bullying than others, a new study finds. Fifty-four percent of Asian-American teenagers said they were bullied in the classroom, compared to 38.4 percent of blacks, 34.3 percent of Hispanics and 31.3 percent of whites.

The disparity was even more striking for cyber-bullying.

Some 62 percent of Asian Americans reported online harassment once or twice a month, compared with 18.1 percent of whites.

The data comes from a 2009 survey by the U.S. Justice Department and Education Department which interviewed 6,500 students from ages 12 to 18.

Know Before You Owe

Know Before You Owe money for college.

Dance Your PhD: Titanium to pigeons

This year’s Dance Your PhD contest winners make science look sexy, writes Alan Boyle on Cosmic Log.

“Microstructure-Property Relationships in Ti2448 Components Produced by Selective Laser Melting”, by Joel Miller, a biomedical engineer at the University of Western Australia in Perth, won the physics category, the grand prize of $1,000 and a freed trip to TEDx Brussels.  The “love story” tells how stiff Titanium Man (played by Miller) and porous Bone Woman (Sara Fontaine) got together to create better, longer-lasting hip and knee replacements.

Science’s Joel Bohannon created the contest in 2008.

Three other videos won $500 prizes:

Cedric Kai Wei Tan,a biologist at the University of Oxford, won the biology category with his depiction of the fruit fly’s mating dance.

FoSheng Hsu,a structural biologist at Cornell University, took chemistry with “his solo interpretation of the time-consuming process for extracting proteins from E. coli bacteria and determining their structure through X-ray crystallography.”

Emma Ware, a behavioral biologist at Queen’s University in Canada, won the social science prize for a dance mimicking pigeons’ courtship dynamics.

Protesters ‘occupy’ standards meeting

A chanting crowd stopped discussion of common standards at a meeting of New York City’s Panel for Educational Policy on Tuesday night, reports Curriculum Matters.

This YouTube video shows Chancellor Dennis Walcott trying to start the meeting, which was intended to explain how adoption of Common Core Standards will affect curriculum in city schools. The “Occupy the DOE” protesters said the decision was made without input from teachers and parents.

Demonstrators also chant that the city wants to raise standards without the supports that students need to reach them.

As they file out the front door of the building, the demonstrators chant, “Show me what democracy looks like! This is what democracy looks like!”

After the meeting was canceled, Walcott and the other panelists met with parents in upstairs classrooms.

Colleges to post ‘net price calculators’

Starting today, all colleges and universities receiving federal aid must post a net-price calculator on their web sites. Prospective students can plug in family income and other details, such as how many kids in college, to estimate the cost of tuition, books and living expenses minus grants.

Study: Common Core aligns with leading standards

The new Common Core Standards are aligned to leading state and international standards, concludes an analysis by the Educational Policy Improvement Center (EPIC) in Eugene,Oregon.

Researchers compared the content and curriculum standards for California and Massachusetts; the Texas College and Career Readiness Standards, the International Baccalaureate standards and the Knowledge and Skills for University Success.

The new common standards cover the same topics and content, but demand “a bit more cognitive complexity in some topics, particularly English/language arts,” the report says.

The study checks whether Common Core’s contents matches the comparison set, but doesn’t say “whether everything in the comparison set is found in the Common Core,” writes  Ze’ev Wurman in the comments.

This is akin to writing a bunch of fragments on a paper and then claiming that since most of the fragments are found among Shakespeare’s works, hence that page is “aligned” with, and “as rigorous as” Shakespeare’s works.

. . . Yet another example Common Core sponsored advocacy research, paid for by Bill Gates.

Also in comments, Sandra Stotsky, who led Massachusetts’ standards initiative, quotes a critique by the Massachusetts Department of Education, which questioned the rigor of Common Core’s high school math and English standards.

 

Union boss is 1 percenter

The California Teachers Association is encouraging teachers to back Occupy Wall Street, writes Larry Sand, yet union leaders aren’t exactly have-nots.

With a salary of $543,868, National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel is a 1 percenter, writes CalWatchdog, who used the “What percent are you?” calculator.
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, who earns $493,859, is in the top 2 percent. CTA President David Sanchez at $289,550 is in the top 4 percent.

According to the calculator, the median household income in the U.S. is $43,000. I’d hate to support 2.6 people (median household size) on that.

 

K-8 charters show reading, math gains

Charter elementary schools outperform traditional public schools in reading and math and charter middle schools do better in math, according to The Effect of Charter Schools on Student Achievement, an analysis of 40 high-quality studies by economists Julian Betts and Emily Tan of the University of Washington’s Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE).  Overall, the gains are “modest but positive.”

Middle-school reading scores and high school math and reading were about the same.

Charter school effects vary dramatically, the meta-analysis found. Urban charter schools perform better than suburban or rural charters, especially at the middle and high school levels. In particular, Boston charter schools performed significantly better than traditional public schools; New York City charters also showed strong gains.

KIPP  middle-school students showed “significant and large improvements in both math and reading.”  A student who started at the 50th percentile could expect to move to the 59th percentile in math and the 54th percentile in reading in a single year.