Sunday, March 31, 2013

Five Pieces to Read Over Spring Break

It's spring break, and I thought I would give you a few things to read!

1. Local superintendent (well, sort of local) Rod Rock from Clarkston got featured in Diane Ravitch's blog for an awesome letter he wrote to his staff. It starts out, 

I know that I write often to you and I hope that you will tolerate one more rambling (at least until the next one). Also, I may have said this already to you, so I apologize if this is a repeat.
When my daughter, Haley, who is now a freshman at MSU, was in third grade, she stood one evening in our tiny, outdated kitchen, leaning against the wall next to the refrigerator and cried. When we asked her what was the matter, she said that she was certain she wouldn’t do very well on the MEAP test the next day and that she didn’t want to let anyone down.
At that moment, I said to her that no test will ever define her. I said that she is Haley Rock and that she is talented in many ways. No matter how she performs on any test at any point in her life, I stated, she will always be Haley Rock and possess many talents. No test, person, or relationship, I reiterated, will ever define who she is or what she is capable of becoming... 
And it gets better from there. Read the whole thing here.  And as Diane Ravitch says, "Don't you wish there were more like him?"

2. Seattle Schools Superintendent Jose Banda has said that he will not discipline the teachers who worked to oppose the MAP testing. 

Seattle schools supt. Jose Banda has backed off on his promise to discipline teachers who boycotted the MAP test and has additionally agreed to scale back the use of the MPA with students. The teachers at Seattle's Garfield High School had boycotted the administration of the MPA, saying it was a waste of money and "child abuse."
In a message to all school staff, Banda stated that the "community" had had a discussion. By changing around those staff who were required to administer the test and using some other doubletalk, Banda was able to continue supporting the MAP. But buried down in his memo a recounting of an unprecedented amount of teacher resistance and parent boycott. "We did see a higher than usual number of high school students and families who opted out of taking the test," Banda wrote. "Districtwide, a total of 459 parents and 133 students opted-out. Of these opt-outs, 265 parents (58% of total) were from two district high schools (Garfield and Ingraham), and 129 students (97% of total) were from one high school (Garfield)..."
Read the rest at

What is particularly interesting to me about this is that the parents and students were opting out of the test. Ann Arbor parents have been asking for the right to opt out of the NWEA MAP test, which is in no way state mandated. For a few more days you can still sign the "Stop Overtesting" petition.

3. Title IX blog has a post about transgender students at women's college. There is some very important information buried in there: 

I am, however, concerned about the role Title IX has played in public debate generally about single-sex colleges and transgender students.  Here in Northampton, our local paper ran a story this week in which the President of Mount Holyoke College, a women's college in neighboring Amherst, said that admitting someone who is not legally female would remove women's colleges from the Title IX exception for single sex colleges:  “We’re constrained by the law,” Pasquerella said. “If someone is not legally female, we can’t admit them and keep our federal funding.”This is not correct, for two reason.  First, Title IX does not contain an exception for single-sex colleges...
Another reason why it's wrong to suggest that Title IX prevents Smith or Mount Holyoke from considering transgender students from admissions is that the statute does not incorporate a legal definition of sex.  Therefore, even if the statute did require Smith to "traditionally and continually" admit women, the law does not prevent Smith from considering transgender women to be women.  In fact, the law in other, analogous contexts may be bending toward a definition of sex that would require such inclusion.  
Read the full post here.

4. Cheating around high stakes testing in Atlanta made the New York Times this week. If you haven't already read this article, I recommend you take the time. And then ask yourself, what would make teachers and superintendents cheat like this? Oh, wait, I gave you a clue. . . high stakes. . . we need to keep saying NO to high stakes testing. 

5. Last, but not least, there is a terrific list from Nancy Flanagan of "Ten Things Legislators Should Know and Do When Making Education Policy." There is a lot of good advice there--and not just for legislators, actually, but for parents, teachers, and taxpayers as well. 

She starts out,

A couple of days ago, I had coffee with Betsy Coffia, who ran last November--unsuccessfully--for a seat representing the 104th district in the Michigan House of Representatives. Coffia and I had never met, although we have several mutual friends. We found each other on-line, in a Facebook argument over Detroit Public Schools' Emergency Manager. She liked what I had to say, and suggested we meet.
It was a great conversation. Coffia plans to run again, and asked lots of questions: What did I think about cyber-schools? Charter chains? The value of early childhood programs? Well-known education non-profits in Michigan? Although she worked for a time in a Head Start program, she admitted there were lots of theories and ideas in education policy she found murky.
Then she said this: Wouldn't it be great if there were a guide for legislators to making useful education policy? So here it is:

Read the rest here.

1 comment:

  1. Oh why, why, why can't we have a superintendent like Clarkstons here in Ann Arbor?