Huh? Times Three

* David Heiber, assistant principal at Thurgood Marshall Middle School in Baltimore, ran 13 miles to other middle schools in the area, to collect donations for building repairs at his school. Nice human interest, local TV news kind of story. Except district officials say Heiber’s school only needs cosmetic work, and that Heiber wants things like mini-blinds for all the classrooms.

I ran 13.1 miles through San Diego last week. No news story and no mini-blinds. Just this nice photo.

* Officials from Falcon School District 49 in Colorado are baffled because enrollment decreased 26 percent from October 2004 to May 2005. They blame the decline on crowded schools. Which brings to mind the classic quote from Yogi Berra: “Nobody goes there anymore; it’s too crowded.”

* Lots of people will analyze the results of the 37th Annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll for its implications regarding public education. I like its insights into human nature instead.

Fifty-nine percent of respondents said they knew “very little” or “nothing at all” about the No Child Left Behind Act — even though the law is now four years old and has been reported and commented on to death in the nation’s media.

That would be bad enough, but worse is the fact that 40 percent of those who said they knew “very little” about the law still felt confident enough to express an opinion on whether it was good or not. And an amazing 23 percent of those who said they knew “nothing at all” about NCLB still expressed an opinion about it. By the way, both of these groups split pretty evenly on NCLB’s merits, so neither side is winning the PR battle for the support of the ignorant.


‘Tis the Season for Strike Talk

* Looming strikes are the usual topic during mid-August. No trends seem to be developing one way or the other. An agreement was reached in Naperville, Illinois and teachers will vote on a contract in Detroit, but things are still up in the air in Anchorage and West Virginia.

The fact that teacher strikes are illegal in Michigan and West Virginia seems to have no effect whatsoever on the actions of the parties involved, so why have no-strike laws?

* A report released yesterday claims standardized test scores “show no evidence that smaller classes are better, either for achievement or classroom atmosphere.” This report didn’t come from the usual places, but from the C.D. Howe Institute in Toronto, Canada.

Institute analyst Yvan Guillemette is the author of the to-the-point titled School Class Size: Smaller Isn’t Better. Even more to the point, the subhead reads, “Many provinces are spending millions of dollars on class-size reduction initiatives, with no solid evidence that they raise student achievement. The money could be better spent elsewhere.”

* All of EIA’s content is free and will continue to be. But if you wish to contribute to EIA’s work, I’ve added a PayPal donation button to the sidebar on the right.

EIA is a private business, so your contribution is NOT tax-deductible, and the accumulated amount will be reported as business income on my tax return.

I considered garnishing $600 in dues from each and every reader’s paycheck, and calling it a “fair share” or “agency” fee, but ultimately concluded that such a thing was tyrannical and an affront to the free enterprise system.

So thank you for your generosity and support. I will always endeavor to be worthy of it.


(Light) Brown vs. Board of Education

Public schools can’t cherry-pick. They have to take every student that comes through their doors.

Well, unless they happen to be the wrong color.

Five-year-old Keith Cordell can’t attend Welch Elementary School in Ohio even though district enrollment policies would normally allow it and it is much more convenient for Sandra Tharp, Keith’s mother, to arrange transportation from the school to Keith’s day care center.

But Keith can’t attend Welch because somehow his presence would upset the school’s “racial balance.” The policy of the Northwest Local school district is designed to ensure that school choice within the district doesn’t contribute to resegregation. But applying the policy to little Keith in this case is ridiculous. Why? Because Keith is biracial. His mother is white and his father is African-American.

At Welch, the student body is 45 percent African-American and 6.4 percent multiracial.

Pleasant Run Elementary, the school the district wants Keith to attend, is 32 percent African-American and 4.7 percent multiracial.

Let me break it down into raw numbers. Based on the school’s current enrollment figures, Welch has 25 multiracial students and Pleasant Run has 24.

Tharp filed suit in U.S. District Court. “They’re supposed to be giving my kids an education, not turning them down because of what color they are,” she said.


August 22 EIA Communique’ Is Up!

1) AFT Loses in Puerto Rico’s Courts and Ballots
2) Globe, AP Teacher Union Stories Miss the Mark
3) Markets Beat Ideology, Even in Oakland
4) Connecticut Files NCLB Lawsuit
5) Release Time Debated in Des Moines
6) Public Education Policy World May Solve Nation’s Energy Crisis
7) EIA Blog Now Has RSS Feed
8) Quotes of the Week

Click here to read!


Stormy Weather in the Islands?

* “We must find a way to pay our teachers more and link it to their performance. There must be a way for teachers to accept some sort of performance-based pay if they are to, in exchange, receive a wage which compensates them adequately.”

The viewpoint isn’t unusual but the source might be. The above quote was delivered by Chris Zacca, the deputy chairman of the Sandals resort group in Jamaica. The corporation is active in education in Jamaica, granting scholarships to needy students who perform well in school.

* Meanwhile, stay tuned later today for the EIA Communiqué, with the latest exclusive look at AFT’s attempted coup in Puerto Rico. (Tease: It’s all over but the shouting, and El Presidente is still in charge.)