For reform — and for teachers

Education reformers need to reach out to teachers, writes Fordham’s Mike Petrilli.

How can we continue to make the case for reform without alienating teachers, without turning them into the enemy, the problem, the object of our disdain?

“One way is to put teachers in charge of their own schools,” he writes. Let teachers become school leaders.

I don’t think this will appeal to many teachers. They want to teach, not deal with management hassles.

When Petrilli asked for input, I suggested that teachers need to know that reformers understand the challenges they face in the classroom and are proposing ways to help them do their jobs well. He writes:

Another way is to champion reforms that teachers do support. For instance, make it easier for educators to discipline unruly students, or to use “ability grouping” in their classrooms instead of mandating the nearly-impossible strategy of “differentiating instruction.”  In other words, remove the obstacles (often ideological in nature) that are getting in the way of teachers achieving success in their classrooms. . . . And get their backs when they are faced with ridiculous demands from parents or others.

Petrilli also sees non-union groups such as Teach Plus, the Association of American Educators, and Educators for Excellence as a way to give teachers an independent “voice” and ensure “they aren’t learning about reform solely through the filter of union rhetoric.”

I think education reformers need to listen to teachers about what they think would improve their schools and help more students learn.

Update: Self-pitying Tantrums Are a Poor Way for Educators To Win Friends, Influence People, writes Rick Hess. He quotes “venomous” comments in response to his column on Gov. Scott Walker’s recall victory in Wisconsin. “Which words or phrases showed a profound hatred for educators or public education?” he asks. “Because, honestly, when I went back and re-read it, I didn’t see ‘em.”

Both sides of the ed reform debate need to “ease back from the self-righteousness,” urges Matthew DiCarlo on the Shanker Blog.

Men dominate the education reform debate, writes Nancy Flanagan. “Men are making the policy arguments and pronouncements, hosting the virtual communities and producing the media. Women are carrying out the policy orders, teaching kids to read using scripted programs and facing 36 students in their algebra classes.”  True?

Women leave workforce for college

While men tend to take whatever work they can find, more women are choosing college over a bad job. Will the ex-Starbucks barista be able to pay back $200,000 in student loans with a masters in strategic communications?

California’s Dream Act promises undocumented students college aid but no path to citizenship.

Graduation + transfer = new success rate

Community college success rates will rise, under a new definition that includes transfer students who go on to a four-year institution before earning an associate degree.

Nearly 80 percent of male black and Latino college students in California enroll in community college. Six years later, 80 percent have failed to complete a certificate or degree or transfer to a university. Women do somewhat better.

Pew: Women value college more than men

College-educated women value higher education, while men have doubts according to a Pew Research Center survey.

In 2010, 36 percent of women ages 25-29 had earned a bachelor’s degree, compared to only 28 percent of their male counterparts. The education gap keeps growing.

Also on Community College Spotlight: High-achieving, low-income students  are likely to attend community colleges or unselective four-year universities. While low-income students are taking harder classes and earning higher test scores, affluent students have improved their academic preparation even more.

How much debt for a degree?

Education Sector’s debt-to-degree ratio finds “the national enterprise of producing college degrees is increasingly being floated on a sea of debt.”

Also on Community College SpotlightWhere the boys are, but the men aren’t.

Women top men in bachelor’s degrees

Twenty-three percent of women, but only 14 percent of men, complete a bachelor’s degree by age 23, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report that uses the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth.

“We’ve seen this great transformation in the workforce away from manufacturing toward more of a service economy,” (BLS economist Jay) Meisenheimer said. “Now that there are more opportunities for women to work, we’re seeing a growing number completing high school and college and going on to graduate and professional programs.”

At the age of 22, 10 percent of respondents had completed a bachelor’s degree  and another 27 percent were enrolled in college.