October | November 2010 - Five Things You Should Know
Photo by Colossus Value/Media-Bakery
1. NCLB: It’s Time To Act
How much do you hate this law? Its test-and-punish approach isn’t working for educators or students—and sadly, Administration Blueprint for Reform offers more focus on competition, standardized test scores and new ways to punish educators. NEA supports some elements of the Administration’s Blueprint. But NEA’s Positive Agenda for ESEA Reauthorization offers a far better framework for rewriting the law and ensuring every student has access to a great public school. Its solutions include multiple measures of student and school performance over time and support for research-based turnaround strategies in low-achieving schools. It needs your support. Learn more about pending legislation and what you can do to help at educationvotes.nea.org.
2. For shame
Some say No Child Left Behind is closing achievement gaps—yet only about 47 percent of Black males graduate, says the Schott Foundation for Public Education. Near St. Petersburg, Florida, the rate is as low as 21 percent. It’s a question of opportunities, Schott suggests: “Does your community provide… opportunities to be locked up or opportunities to learn?” Read the report and its recommendations.
Photo by Baerbel Schmidt
3. Now that’s an apple
Behavioral economists have taken their science to school cafeterias. In a Washington Post story, a Cornell scientist talks about moving a middle school’s fruit out of dimly lit steel bins into pretty wire baskets. Sales went up 54 percent in a week. Other tactics that work include verbal prompts. That is, when a cafeteria employee says, “Would you like a banana?” studies show kids are much more likely to make that healthy choice. Read more at http://tiny.cc/smartlunch.
4. Required reading
There are five “essential elements” for school improve-ment, according to a new book from the University of Chicago Press, Organizing Schools for Improvement: Lessons from Chicago, which analyzes achievement data from the early 1990s (pre-Arne Duncan years). And surprise! None of those essentials is merit pay, charter conversion, or teacher firings. Rather, the authors show that what’s important includes commitment to excellent teaching, community support, and time.
Illustration by Stefano Tognetti
5. Made for walking
October is a time for tricks and treats, but also some important awareness campaigns like Bullying Prevention Week and Teen Read Week. One of our favorites is International Walk to School Day on October 6. Whether your concern is safer streets or slimmer students, this day is aimed at creating a more walkable America. Put on your comfy shoes and check out walktoschool.org.