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Larry Summers should replace Arne Duncan!

January 22, 2012

Researcher Danah Boyd contends that restricting teenagers’ internet use is a bad idea in a NYTimes article today… an idea I wholeheartedly agree with. Her article also points out that kids are driven to the internet because of parent’s irrational fears about abductions in the “real world” and that parents’ concerns about internet predators are equally irrational. The media’s obsession about childhood abductions and internet predators creates fear… and fear-based stories attract eyes to the TV set. One other interesting point in the article: the internet

Nick Kristoff misses the point in this heartwarming story of how a teacher changed the life of a latent juvenile delinquent… the teacher-turned-librarian who is the hero of the story saw the young troublemaker steal a book and instead of turning the student in bought another book by the same author for the student to “steal” a second time from the library… In my comment to Mr. Kristoff I wrote:

I think the point of this story is that Ms. Grady let Mr. O’Neal read what he was interested in instead of what the school curriculum mandated AND Ms. Grady intuitively understood that had she done “the right thing” by the school’s rules and turned Mr. O’Neal in for “stealing” it would have reinforced the notion that Mr. O’Neal was a criminal. With today’s NCLB mentality Ms. Grady would be branded a “bad teacher”: she didn’t compel her student to follow a scripted syllabus designed to prepare him for the next standardized achievement test and didn’t adhere to school policy requiring that all misbehavior be reported to the school administration.

I can’t believe I’m touting an article on education by Larry Summers but here goes: he gets it! The article advocates processing of information over memorization; collaboration over competition; technology over text; constructivism; cosmopolitism; and data analysis as opposed to data crunching. Based on this article, Larry Summers should replace Arne Duncan if Obama gets re-elected! 

Charlotte Danielson’s checklist comes off well in this article on teacher evaluation in the NYTimes… the checklist approach to evaluation is almost a necessity given the span of control in most schools… also, the discredited “satisfactory/unsatisfactory” rating system is, in the final analysis, what is required to determine which teachers are “good” and which ones are “bad”….

Several years ago Marc Tucker authored a monograph entitled “America’s Choice, High Skills or Low Wages”… Based on this article in the NY Times about Apple Computer’s decision to manufacture overseas, it appears that the real choice is between high wages and low cost…. or it may be that we are not going to be able to compete with China’s command capitalism since there is no way our country would stand for Life in Foxconn, as described in this sentence: The facility has 230,000 employees, many working six days a week, often spending up to 12 hours a day at the plant. Over a quarter of Foxconn’s work force lives in company barracks and many workers earn less than $17 a day.  Until we’re willing to pay more for products made in the US, we might want to consider investing in barracks building companies….

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