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Links from past few days

January 21, 2012

My consulting in the North Country required early morning travel and not much time to check into education news. Here’s a quick synopsis of some of the blog-worthy articles:

Socio-economic segregation is flagged in this Common Dreams post by Jim Horn. The article lambastes the privatization movement as well as our policy-makers unwillingness to face the fact that low soci0-economic status can drag a school’s performance down and limit the opportunities for upward mobility for students attending those low SES schools.

A Florida legislator floated the idea of a state funded online university for the near future, noting that 51% of the 300,000 students in FLA have taken an online course. Sorry to be suspicious… but… I can’t help thinking the motives behind a FLA legislator’s embrace of online learning is the lower cost… as noted in the first link! Thanks to Jeff Silbert for forwarding this article from the Miami Herald

Performance Assessment is making a comeback, thanks to Race to the Top according to an article in E-classroom News. I am heartened that this is happening… but am skeptical that Race to the Top’s emphasis on snapshot tests administered to age-level cohorts meshes with formative assessment…

“Flipped instruction” is officially mainstream: CNN is on it! I’m forwarding this link to the North Country Education Services leadership team who just received a $497,000 video-conferencing grant… this looks like a good way to make use of that money. What is “flipped instruction?”: in a nutshell, it’s when the kids learn the content on their own using technology and the teachers guide the students through learning activities based on the independent learning… The flip? The lecture happens at home, the “homework” happens in school…

Law services in schools, another possible interagency opportunity! This article, about a lawyer turned educator provides some interesting ideas on how it might be possible to provide legal aid to needy parents through the schools.

Teacher evaluation blues: NY teachers and the governor continue to debate the components of a state-wide teacher evaluation plan. It appears that everyone agrees that 40% will be based on “test scores” and 60% will be based on “observations”. The sticking point appears to be appeals. I remain skeptical. How are teachers in non-self-contained classrooms going to be tested? How many and what kind of observations will be required? Who on earth is going to do them? The politicians continue to berate teachers for the bad performance of students, cut funds to the safety nets that support kids who need it, and fail to do anything about the funding inequities… I think the unions are engaging in passive aggressive behavior here: agreeing to a system that cannot be implemented fairly and rationally while politicians score points for their “tough stands on behalf of the children”…

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