ANGRY New York parents who say school officials pressured them into medicating their children have a very powerful ally in their corner - President Bush's brother.
Neil Bush is condemning the practice for very personal reasons: He endured his own Ritalin hell seven years ago when educators in a Houston private school diagnosed his son, Pierce, now 16, with attention-deficit disorder and pushed medication.
Story In the town of Butte, Montana there exists 4700 elementary school students. They were taught to read the guessing way called "Whole Language." In 2000, they noticed test scores were falling - probably because Whole Language failure builds over time as a student goes through each grade level.So Butte though "Wow" we need to teach these kids to read:So began a dramatic shift in the way the district's nearly 4,600 students attacked reading: They hired an outside consultant, used a different curriculum and added reading coaches in every school. More time was devoted to the subject: teachers and students spent at least two hours of every school day learning and practicing reading.
StoryWhat? South Umpqua School District students were put in a gaming casino to motivate them to read more? No, not really. The entire school district elementary students used space provided (for free) by the Seven Feathers Convention Center to show how well they have done in the Reading First grant monies for improving reading. One principal actually used the "D" word (let me whisper it - DIBELS), a reading assessment tool developed by the University of Oregon and hated by Whole Language reading proponents. These are the folks that don't want children to read because they put the teacher ahead of the students and pretty much ignore any and all quality research (e.g. Project Follow Through).
In searching around the web on curriculum and textbook development, I found an interesting article entitled The Muddle Machine: Confessions of a textbook editor . Hmmm.The jist of how school texts come to being:They are processed into existence using the pulp of what already exists, rising like swamp things from the compost of the past. The mulch is turned and tended by many layers of editors who scrub it of anything possibly objectionable before it is fed into a government-run "adoption" system that provides mediocre material to students of all ages.
A recent article in edweek.org did a great job of showing some of the goals of No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Of course, this was a by-product of showing how it is failing due to lack of oversight. I can just see Mayor Quimby, I mean Senator Kennedy, riding in on his high horse to "clean up" NCLB. Yeah, right.
Apparently, in 1998, the Newshour with Jim Lehrer (yes, PBS), did a segment on the math wars. Based in the little town of Corvallis, Oregon, a small school called Fairplay, decided to start using "fuzzy math" curriculum called Mathland. Fairplay is now closed.But what is more interesting is that a group of parents said "no way to this crap at Fairplay" and started their own school in Corvallis - a public school without boundaries. It's called Franklin and it will likely become tennis courts in the near future for the high school next door.
Naw, just charter school vs. charter school. And, well, not really that either. My daily search through google news for "charter school" Oregon found two stories about charter schools:1. Application for a charter in Eugene to teach multiculturalism, "multilingual social justice", and a second language.
2 different articles point to why school wide reforms might not work. One article notes:U.S. schools aren't fully implementing strategies to boost student achievement, hurting themselves and casting doubt on research that questions the effectiveness of such plans, a Rand Corp. study found.The study of 250 elementary and secondary schools in Florida and Texas found none had adopted all of the changes outlined in the improvement plans devised by academic experts, according to Rand, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based research institute.That could help explain why the widely used programs — Accelerated Schools, Core Knowledge, Direct Instruction and Success for All — often show little or no results, study author Georges Vernez said."You need to implement all the components of the model," said Vernez, a senior social scientist at Rand. "There is a great deal of variation in implementation."Let me sum it up. Schools that are forced to implement school-wide reforms don't implement correctly and thus the results are not as good. Hmmm. I wonder why that would be?
I'm not trying to sound like the ultimate "Direct Instruction" fangirl, but I fear it is too late. An independent nonprofit group called the American Institutes for Research updated their research on consumer ratings for school wide reforms. In the article, Direct Instruction and Success For All were the only 2 models given a "moderately strong" rating. Non were given a "very strong." Not sure what qualifies for "very strong": maybe school in heaven or one to one structure.