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October 23, 2009

Education in the News This Week

This week two major themes emerged: teachers and parenting. The topic of teachers was split into various arguments, but on the whole covered the notion of quality and retention. It starts with an Op-Ed by Michelle Obama:

    As the president has frequently said, in a 21st-century global economy where jobs can be shipped to any place with an Internet connection and children here in America will be competing with children around the world for the same jobs, a good education is no longer just one road to opportunity—it is the only road. And good teachers aren't just critical for the success of our students. They are the key to the success of our economy.

Then Teaching for a Living, a Public Agenda and Learning Point Associates study, concluded that "forty percent of K-12 teachers are 'disheartened and disappointed' about their jobs," writes education blogger Joanne Jacobs. "Most of the disheartened teach in low-income schools. They’re frustrated with unsupportive administrators, disorder in the classroom and testing." But without testing, asks the National Journal's Education Experts blog, how should teacher effectiveness be assessed?

As for parenting, a public school teacher wrote a thought-provoking op-ed of his experiences with low-income students:

    My students knew intuitively that the reason they were lagging academically had nothing to do with race, which is the too-handy explanation for the achievement gap in Alexandria. And it wasn't because the school system had failed them. They knew that excuses about a lack of resources and access just didn't wash at the new, state-of-the-art, $100 million T.C. Williams [High School], where every student is given a laptop and where there is open enrollment in Advanced Placement and honors courses. Rather, it was because their parents just weren't there for them — at least not in the same way that parents of kids who were doing well tended to be.

Enter Miami-Dade County's Parent Academy, which TIME Magazine profiled yesterday on its efforts "to engage parents who are otherwise uninvolved in their child's education." As Karen Mapp, the director of the Education Policy and Management Program at Harvard Graduate School of Education, explains it: "There's 40 years of research that indicates a pretty positive relationship between families being engaged in their children's education and positive effects on students in terms of their academic achievement."

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