1) NEA Execs Tell All in EIA Video Intercept!
Where else can you find the executive officers of the National Education
Association (and special surprise guest) discussing the union and each
other? Yes, only in the EIA Video Intercept for June 2007. Catch it
on the EIA home page at
http://www.eiaonline.com or on
Google Video or
2) Mom Beats Rap in School Choice Black Market
Case. Jeanine Echols wanted her three children to attend the Marietta,
Georgia, public schools. But she didn't live in Marietta and (evidently)
didn't want to pay the annual tuition of $2,125 per child. So she used
various ruses to make district officials believe she resided in Marietta.
What made Echols unique among the thousands of parents
throughout America who
defy the law in an effort to get their kids into better schools is that
she was prosecuted on 16 felony counts of swearing to false documents and
faced up to 80 years in prison. She was arrested in May 2005 and, after a
two-year court battle, she was
acquitted on all counts by a Cobb County jury last week.
The University City School District calls similar
attempts by Missouri parents "educational
larceny." District officials recently decided not to accept students
seeking to transfer from the St. Louis Public Schools, which is about to
lose its accreditation. They claimed their decision was "developed
through studies of comparative achievement and other factors."
Comparative achievement? I thought traditional schools
3) No Mystery in NAEP History Scores. The worst
thing about standardized tests is not their effect on children, teachers or
schools, but the way politicians, policymakers and pundits reverse field
depending on who's in power and what the scores are.
The New York Times headline reads, "Students
Gain Only Marginally on Test of U.S. History." Normally Democrats will tout
test score gains, and Republicans will minimize them as inadequate. In this
case, the Bush administration is promoting the gains as evidence of the
positive effect of the No Child Left Behind Act's focus on reading, while
opponents blame the small size of the increases on NCLB's narrowing of the
What's strange is that they're both right.
If history and social studies are being crowded out by
a greater emphasis on reading and math, then the only explanation for a
statistically significant increase in history test scores must be due to
increased reading comprehension. But if the gains were marginal, it must
mean that while students understand more of the history they are reading,
they aren't reading enough of it because of the all the time spent on
reading and math.
So we can argue all day about the relative merits and
pitfalls of NCLB, but this is the real dilemma. We're faced with a Hobson's
choice: a generation of kids with (perhaps) adequate reading skills but
inadequate knowledge of other subjects, or a generation of kids with broad
exposure to all academic subjects, but with insufficient basic skills to
make sense of them.
Neither is acceptable. So what to do next? Sounds like
a pretty good question to ask the two dozen or so dwarves running for
President a year early.
4) Union Discord in Colorado Springs. Colorado
Springs Education Association President Irma Valerio and board member Tom
Watson resigned their positions in what Valerio called "hopes that the focus
of our organization can once again be on our members instead of personal
resignation statement, Valerio referred to a "divided" CSEA board, but
did not mention a school district
investigation into the misuse of public funds by union members,
including Valerio. The investigation concerns
improper reimbursement of teacher training funds and an allegation of
Valerio told the
Colorado Springs Gazette her resignation was not connected to the
investigation, and that "personal things" had divided the CSEA board,
prompting her decision.
5) Stick 'Em Up. In what will undoubtedly put a
crimp in the union's recruiting efforts, the Iowa State Education
Association (ISEA) executive board approved a new policy:
"Any time an employee is using an ISEA-owned vehicle
for business-related activity, the employee is strictly forbidden to
knowingly place, carry, or transport any type of dangerous weapon, or any
firearm rifle, shotgun, pistol, or revolver, whether loaded or unloaded, in
6) From the Oldest Profession to the Second Oldest?
The Oregon Senate passed a bill that would allow those convicted of
misdemeanor prostitution to become teachers in the state's public school
system. The "Second Chance Act" passed by a margin of 20-7 after an
amendment was added to place a five-year waiting period between the
conviction and the application for a teaching license. The bill has been
assigned to the Oregon House Education Committee, where it is expected to
meet some opposition.
In a completely unrelated story, three Oregon teachers
were arrested in a police sting for having
sex in broad daylight in a public park.
7) Disappearing Edu-Blogs? I don't want to
suggest a trend, but the "hiatus-ing" of the Los Angeles Times
School Me!, following so soon on the heels of the departure of Joe
The Chalkboard, and the loss of interest in edu-blogging at places like
Miami Herald, make me wonder if this is normal, or if there is
something unique to education causing it.
There are always broad issues to debate, discuss and
report in education, but is it more difficult to maintain a news-driven blog
on the issue than it is for other topics? It seems you don't get too many
watercooler stories in education, and that's the kind of buzz needed to
sustain newspapers and blogs.
Maybe I'm reading too much into it. Thoughts?
8) Stewart Re-Elected President of Chicago Teachers
Union. Chicago Teachers Union President Marilyn Stewart won re-election
handily over challenger Deborah Lynch in a contest defined by differences
over the current contract.
Last week, Alexander Russo's
District 299 blog performed a great service by opening a forum to both
sides, resulting in 200 comments on the candidates and the union. Chicago
joins New York City and Detroit as large AFT urban locals with small, but
significant and vocal, minorities who question the union's direction.
9) Scheduling Note. The next EIA Communiqué
will appear on Tuesday, May 29.
10) Last Week's Intercepts.
Intercepts, covered these topics from May 14-21:
March of Time. NEA bemoans the "decline
of U.S. educational standards"… sixty years ago.
Doesn't Have to Be a Drag. It can be a musical.
for Fun: Friday Classics. "Who says I'm fair?"
Quote of the Week.
suspended with pay is not a vacation." – Dena Rosenkrantz, staff attorney
for the Virginia Education Association, discussing the case of local
affiliate president Joyce Tyree, who was suspended with pay for brandishing
a butcher knife in class last March. (May 17
Culpepper Star Exponent)