Alfie Kohn, “Poor Teaching for Poor Children… in the Name of Reform”:

Deborah Meier, the educator and author who has founded extraordinary schools in New York and Boston, points out that the very idea of “school” has radically different meanings for middle-class kids, who are “expected to have opinions,” and poor kids, who are expected to do what they’re told. Schools for the well-off are about inquiry and choices; schools for the poor are about drills and compliance. The two types of institutions “barely have any connection to each other,” she says.

Alfie points out one of testing’s insidious impacts: it shapes the curriculum taught much more in schools where they’re struggling to meet standards, resulting in limiting the curriculum to solely to what’s on the test and cutting out class time for test prep, and those schools tend to be impoverished and minority schools.  High stakes testing is a civil rights issue.

This post is part of the thread: Testing & Standards in Education - an ongoing story on this site. View the thread timeline for more context on this post.

Dean Shareski, “Overcoming Digital Dualism”:

This is still someone abstract until you begin to understand, value and appreciate what these connections look and feel like. Most educators and students don’t know what it’s like to forge connections with people youve never met. For me, face to face interactions for many of my professional colleagues supplement my online interactions. The notion of digital dualism is largely the crux of what holds education back from valuing these connections. This doesn’t suggest we can’t discuss manners and norms but it also can’t be shrouded with superiority or nostaligia. Those two perspectives will always remain so long as folks only see their connections as supplement or a second choice.

The idea that the ‘offline’ is more authentic than online is a major barrier for the use of technology and social media in the classroom.  For those of us who use those technologies to connect with people every day, those connections feel just as ‘real’ as offline connections.  They’re not less meaningful unless you fail to cultivate meaning from them.

Yochai Benkler: After Selfishness – Wikipedia 1, Hobbes 0 at Half Time

When people think they’re treated fairly, they’re more motivated to act… the core idea of separating fairness and justice from productivity and incentives misses the reality of what people care about.

This video is pretty much brilliant. I personally have a strong aversion to making moral arguments from an economic perspective, but this lecture lends credence to my increasing suspicion that the arguments can go hand in hand – that a just society is in fact a more productive one.

Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic, “Proving a Conservative Caricature of Boston Bombing Coverage Wrong”:

Generally speaking, “mainstream” outlets have been diligently reporting out the story and gathering that evidence. The conservative press has done very little reporting. Its been busy cherry-picking liberal dissents from the jihadist theory of the Boston bombing, treating those dissents as if they’re representative of “the liberal media” generally, and needlessly worrying about a supposed unwillingness to confront radical Islam. “The chances are that we will learn nothing important from Boston about the enduring terrorist threat against our country,” Rich Lowry writes. “When the next attack comes, and it will, we will again scratch our heads and wonder who could do such a thing, and why?” I think he’s been reading too much Steyn, and that when the next attack comes, the mainstream media will thoroughly report on the people behind it too.

Surprise, surprise – conservatives live in a bubble.

Politico Accidentally Points Out Sexism At The New York Times

Late last night, Politico published an expose on Jill Abramson’s “turbulent leadership” at the New York Times. Unfortunately, it appears the piece can be summed up like this: New York Times reporters don’t like working for a woman.

The piece twists itself into knots, trying to figure out how to best criticize her work; Abramson, the woman who led the Times to win four Pulitzer’s this year, established a paywall that has helped shore up the Times’ digital revenue, embraced the web’s technology with innovative pieces like “Snow Fall,” and helped maintain this struggling newspaper as the “paper of record,” is alternately “impossible” to work with but isn’t around enough or “approachable;” alternately “very unpopular right now” and leaving the Times “leaderless” but still “very respected there.”

Read more at IBTimes’ new blog Fighting Words.

Tressie McMillan Cottom, “Blanket ‘Don’t Go To Graduate School!’ Advice Ignores Race and Reality?”:

That’s not changed overly much. That’s why Obama’s reduction of the public sector as the private sector picked up hiring over the past three years has been devastating for black workers. We work in the public sector because equal opportunity hiring laws counteract biases in hiring that make a white felon more likely to be hired than a black applicant with no criminal history. We stay in bureaucracies because those same equal opportunity laws require that promotion criteria be explicit, published and uniformly applied regardless of sex, race, gender, etc. which counteracts the documented bias that transmutable, opaque “discretion” produces.

It’s interesting to note that people forget, when dealing with an institution, how it fits in the larger social structure, and graduate school may actually be a great idea for groups that are not the ones giving the advice.

John Merrow on Taking Note, “Michelle Rhee’s Reign of Error”:

Michelle Rhee had to decide whether to investigate aggressively or not. She had publicly promised to make all decisions “in the best interests of children,” and a full-scale investigation would seem to keep that pledge. If cheating were proved, she could fire the offenders and see that students with false scores received the remedial attention they needed. Failing to investigate might be interpreted as a betrayal of children’s interests–if it ever became public knowledge.

This is really important information – Michelle Rhee ran on a platform of improving the test schools of her district. Basically, her entire career rests on that achievement, and the fact that the achievement may not be real significantly undermines her platform.

This post is part of the thread: Testing & Standards in Education - an ongoing story on this site. View the thread timeline for more context on this post.

There’s No Such Thing As Journalistic Objectivity

Margaret Sullivan does a great job as the New York Times’ public editor, but I often find her equivocating, much like her employer. I was struck particularly by her Friday post about a number of New York Times turns of phrases that have been met with criticism, namely the uses of “targeted killing” in lieu of murder or assassination, and “harsh interrogation techniques” instead of torture.

You can read the rest of my post on IBTimes’ blog Fighting Words.

A Comment Response on Community Involvement

Last week I wrote a piece for IBTimes’ Fighting Words.  One comment, from a poster known only as ‘The Guy,’ had one point that I’d like to respond to and highlight:

The choice to accept is not provided. We should be able to determine our own contributions to our communities as well as the choice to receive contributions.

While the rest of the comment was some drivel about liberals and Bill Clinton, this first part is really a significant disagreement I have with much of conservative thought:

You don’t choose how much you participate because your actions impact your communities whether or not you actively choose participation. You benefit from living in a safer community, whether or not do anything to make it safer. You benefit from having smart people in your community, whether or not you do anything to help them learn. This is why these are collective enterprises; the idea that you’re separate from your community and can regulate how much you contribute is really a myth.