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Monday, October 31, 2011

Another Slow Monday

Just a quick posting of a few interesting items today.

Odds 'n' Ends

New York Times' columnist Thomas Friedman had a great line in his Saturday column, Did You Hear the One About the Bankers? He suggests four reforms for the banking industry, noting he found the last one on the blogosphere:

U.S. congressmen should have to dress like Nascar drivers and wear the logos of all the banks, investment banks, insurance companies and real estate firms that they’re taking money from. The public needs to know.

Indianapolis Star reporter Robert King took a break this week from his new series on an Indianapolis middle school to ask Is Indianapolis ready for its Super Bowl close-up? It's way off the subject of education, but like most King articles, is engaging.

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Spread the wordWednesday, November 2, 2011

NAEP Scores "Flat"

Slight progress in math and mixed results in reading are reported from the 2011 National Assessment of Education Progress. Education Week's Erik W. Robelen writes in New NAEP, Same Results: Math Up, Reading Mostly Flat that the "test data show that 4th and 8th graders have inched up in mathematics, but the results are more mixed in reading, with 4th grade scores flat compared with two years ago." Jim Horn has an interesting take on the "nation's report card" norming in The Nation's Report Card on Corporate Ed Reform Comes Home on the Schools Matter blog.

On the Blogs

Stephen Wesson, who blogs on Teaching with the Library of Congress, has a request of his readers. The Library has seen a sudden and unusual uptick in hits on their To Kill a Mockingbird: A Historical Perspective lesson plan. He asks in To Kill a Mockingbird: A Mysterious Flurry of Interest:

What’s led to this sudden increase in interest? And how can we better help teachers work with this novel and the Library’s collections?

Ben Wildeboer's Lightbulb Challenge: LED vs. Halogen on his /Re:thinking/ blog is an interesting read with a good suggestion for a student activity at the end. His Pipe Insulation Roller Coasters: Rolling Friction activity may be useful for Physics teachers.

One Sunflower tells of an interesting activity for the younger set in a-graph-a-day.

Sara Wu relates that the Chicago Public Schools "will be offering antibiotic-free chicken drumsticks in school lunches. We’re talking 1.2 million pounds of antibiotic-free chicken entering school cafeterias." She tells the story in Drumstick, anyone? CPS getting antibiotic-free chicken!

Sherman Dorn has a bit of fun with some big and not so big names in education "reform" in ESEA political scorecard: Halloween version.

Diane Ravitch looks at what may happen to a successful urban school system on the Bridging Differences blog in Will San Diego's Public Schools Survive?

I noticed that Educators' News still hasn't made Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…, but like the new look and organization of his excellent resource.

Odds 'n' Ends

Toys for Tots

Friday, November 4, 2011

Tropical Storm, Snow Days, Power Outages Extend School Year

Winnie Hu and Nate Schweber have a really good article on The New York Times this week, The Joys, and Frustrations, of Snow Days in November. They tell of the effects on schools, school calendars, and parents Tropical Storm Irene and the recent snowstorm along the east coast caused.

In Indiana

Here in Indiana, our voucher program is quickly becoming the model for conservative, anti-public school politicians across the nation. The Indy Star's Scott Elliott reports in Vouchers start out strong in Indiana that the state has issued "more vouchers than any state has ever provided in its first year." Over $16 million have been diverted from public to private schools, "almost entirely religious-affiliated," in a program Governor Daniels and State Superintendent Tony Bennett steadfastly maintain does not support religious schools.

Another state biggie is a lawsuit brought by a Franklin Township mother who cannot afford to pay the nearly $50 per month per child school bus fee a private vendor charges after the district discontinued bus service. Despite having over $17 million in its rainy day fund, the district privatized bus services in an attempt to circumvent the state constitution and cut the estimated $2 million per year cost of transporting students. The AP's Charles Wilson relates in Indiana district that ended bus routes faces lawsuit that the disabled parent "wanted the district to place her two sons, ages 10 and 13, on a special needs bus because they both have serious medical conditions." When the district refused, the parent proceeded with the lawsuit which may attain class action status "so that everybody gets the buses back."

Moving outside Indiana but still on the dropping bus service issue, the AP's Donna Gordon Blankinship reports in In Washington, school buses in path of budget ax that Washington Governor Chris Gregoire "floated the idea" of dropping state funding for school bus service "in advance of a special legislative session later this month." Blankinship notes that "all states don't help pay to bus students to school — although transporting disabled kids is required by federal law — but most do." She also notes that the state's education chief, Randy Dorn, has some constitutional concerns about the possibility of ending funding for school busses in the state:

The state Constitution requires the state government to amply pay the costs of basic education, as defined by the state Legislature. Student transportation is part of the definition of basic education and although it's been a long time since the state has paid the entire cost of busing kids to school, that doesn't mean it shouldn't even try.

Educators' News Commentary

Anticipating that today might be a "slow news Friday," I took some time yesterday to look back over some of the commentary I've offered here on Educators' News this year. What got me started was a small link to my posting about the SLANT strategy that appeared on Berni Wall's Rliberni's Blog – Radical language site as part of the 25th EFL/ESL/ELL Blog Carnival. Looking at some of the "best" postings there, I decided to run my own little carnival of reruns here today!

Eugene White - EdNews Turkey of the WeekNepotism in Indy (February 15, 2011)

Indianapolis Public Schools Superintendent Eugene White gave his son a whopping big raise...and earned our Turkey of the Week award.

Crackerbarrel in Terre Haute - State Representative Elvis (March 14, 2011)

Our state representative is a pretty good Elvis impersonator - and an embarrassment as a representative.

Two People Who Deserve to be Fired (April 13, 2011)

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels appeared at "a town hall meeting" that was actually closed to the general public. Duncan should be fired for his education policies, and Daniels should never serve again in elective office for his rape of Indiana's public schools.

Tenth Anniversary Edition (April 18, 2011)

The Morning After EditionNot really commentary, but our Tenth Anniversary Edition of Educators' News was a doozy. The Morning After Edition is a column about the letdown after one finishes a big posting, only to have to start from scratch for the next day's posting.

Clipped - Snowplows and Education (April 22, 2011)

A little quote I sent our President about what teachers really do. Note that I just got a response back from the Obama White House last week.

Arbor Day and the End of the News (for April) (April 29, 2011)

A story about trees planted...and cut my elementary school that turned into a tribute to a great principal.

Now What Do We Do With Him? (May 12, 2011)

I address the question of "what to do with a Democratic President who really has betrayed the teachers across the country who helped elect him..."

Thanks for all your hard work. You're fired! (June 3, 2011)

The incongruity of a photo op of President Obama (and NASA Administrator Charles Bolden) greeting NASA workers his policies have put out of work really upset me.

A Few Thoughts on a Sunny Friday (June 10, 2011)

SuperTeacherI don't have lots of answers to fixing education that are easy, as poverty is a giant problem that the "reformers" consistently want to ignore. I look back and wonder how my students survived when my first marriage was falling apart, followed by several years when I was again a bachelor and became SuperTeacher, as my faith and my classroom were about all I had to hang onto. But what about those times when we're not SuperTeacher?

Celine Coggins has an interesting, related piece about firing the bottom 10% of teachers on Education Week, Is it Pro-Teacher or Anti-Teacher to Talk About Problems of Practice?

I'm shocked, shocked to find that cheating has been going on there! (July 6, 2011)

Call me cynical, but I found the revelations about cheating on high stakes testing in the Atlanta Schools a bit reminiscent of a funny scene from Casablanca. (Also see the Harry Rex posting below)

A Few Words About Linda and Preparing Ones Classroom (July 15, 2011)

While lots of education "reformers" regularly denigrate teachers as part of their game plan to remake education into something run like a business, they often miss the many, many Linda's who start going the extra mile shortly after the Fourth of July and continue to do so all school year long.

What Would Harry Rex Do? (August 17, 2011)

One of my best postings went totally unnoticed by the education world. Maybe it's not popular or politically correct to say one understands (without necessarily approving) why folks have cheated on high stakes testing.

SLANT (August 23, 2011)

A strategy we used to help our special ed students...with a funny gotcha at the end.

Teaching a Natural Talent? and A Few Words About Dennis (August 29, 2011)

A column by Jay Mathews got me writing about an incredible teacher we'd miss today in the search for "the best and the brightest."

Doin' Our Part (September 12, 2011)

Melons for the MissionSweet potatoesSometimes we can't write a check to a charity we support, but we can offer the bounty of our gardens to their food bank. We hauled three loads of mixed melons from our garden to The Lighthouse Mission in Terre Haute this summer. Since we're just about overrun with bumper crops of sweet potatoes and butternut squash, it looks as if I'll need to make yet one more run to the mission before Thanksgiving. (Butternuts make incredible yam substitutes for Thanksgiving Day dinners.)

Related column: A Charity Phone Solicitation

Rerun Alert - A Time to Say "Screw the Research" (September 30, 2011)

With Halloween coming on, I did a rare rerun of a posting about kids and sugary treats.

The Man I Voted For (October 3, 2011)

I ran into an incredible song that describes just how I feel about our President and what he's done on education "reform," ending war, bank reform, etc.

Another New Mac Web Browser

Just over a week ago, I wrote about the TenFourFox and Classilla ports of the Firefox web browser that allow its use on older Macs. This week I read in Martin Bryant's Mac web browser Raven is flying, with 100,000 in-app installs in 3 weeks about another web browser for Macs, Raven. The new browser allows customers to add web apps into a side bar for convenience. Still in beta, Raven may push browser development in some new directions.

Astroid 2005 YU55Asteroid Alert

Giant Asteroid 2005 YU55 Comes Closer to Earth Than Moon Next Week by Tariq Malik relates:

A huge asteroid about the size of an aircraft carrier will zoom past our planet next week, flying between the Earth and the orbit of the moon when it flies by on Tuesday (Nov. 8).

The space rock, called asteroid 2005 YU55, poses no threat to the Earth but will be observed by excited astronomers around the world. It's about 1,300 feet (400 meters) wide, round and blacker than coal, NASA scientists said.

CNN's Asteroid to pass closer to Earth than the moon adds that the near pass "will also provide a rare opportunity for amateur astronomers to directly observe an asteroid with optical telescopes." although NASA suggests that folks with less than a 6" reflector telescope won't be able to see much. The Jet Propulsion Lab's Solar System Dynamics website is providing the asteroid's coordinates for any given time for folks hoping to track and watch it. They also are the source of the animation below.

2005 YU55 path

CNN also relates that "the asteroid will approach Earth from a sunward direction and it will be a daylight object until the time of its closest approach on November 8.  The best time to see the asteroid will be after the hours of 4 pm EST (21:00 UTC)."

Odds 'n' Ends

It's turned out to be not as slow a news day as I had anticipated. I pulled John Sutter's When the iPhone's Siri takes the day off on CNN out of the listing above, as it really isn't education related, but it is funny.

Sutter writes that Apple's voice assistant on the the new iPhone 4S "took an extended coffee break on Thursday...apparently because of a server outage." When a blogger asked after the five hour outage, "Siri, where have you been all day," the device listed a "bunch of day spas," saying, "I found 12 places matching 'All Day' ... 11 of them are not far from you."

Have a great weekend!


And the sign said, "Everybody welcome. Come in, kneel down and pray"
But when they passed around the plate at the end of it all, I didn't have a
penny to pay

So I got me a pen and a paper and I made up my own little sign
I said, "Thank you, Lord, for thinkin' 'bout me. I'm alive and doin' fine."

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Blockin' out the scenery, breakin' my mind
Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign?



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