Could the behavior of shoppers in New Jersey and sugarcane farmers in India tell us something useful about the challenges our poorest students face? Educator Zac Chase, writing a guest post for my Of, By, For blog at EdWeek, thinks so . . .
Now that DC is taking up the delicate question of whether its boundary lines for neighborhood schools needs revisiting — the first time they’ve done so since 1968 — it’s worth thinking through the issue with them.
This morning, I was part of a public radio conversation that featured DC Deputy Mayor Abigail Smith and local parent activist Evelyn Boyd Simmons. You can hear that 30 minute conversation here. But you might also want to read Mike Petrilli’s 2011 piece about controlled choice, or Rick Kahlenberg’s research into the feasibility of race-neutral admissions policies, or one school’s use of a zip code lottery to ensure an even representation from kids throughout the city it serves.
What other policies or programs are worth looking at?
There’s a great book out by Harvard’s Michael Sandel on the moral limits of markets. But Sandel’s book also contains a lot of interesting information about incentives, and the ways our use of them has both grown and revised the traditional economic thinking that began with Adam Smith’s original 1776 notion of an “invisible hand.”
There are two different articles in today’s New York Times that I would consider must reading for anyone interested in better understanding who we are, who we have been, and who we may become.
The first, “Obama and the Debt,” outlines Princeton history professor Sean Wilentz’s interpretations of the current crisis, and of its Constitutional underpinnings. Regardless of whether you love the Fourteenth Amendment (as I do), and regardless of whether you agree with Wilentz’s advice to President Obama (go hard or go home), I would offer this Op-Ed as very tangible evidence of why we need historians, and why there is great value in looking back to better understand that path that has led us to this particular moment.
The other article is in the Arts section, and it’s a review of David Cage’s new video game for the PlayStation 3, “Beyond Two Souls.” The game itself features star turns from two well-known Hollywood actors, Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe. And the article struck me because it hints at the Brave New World we are entering, one in which a creator like Cage excitedly imagines the development of a “Scorcese algorithm” that would imitate the filmmaker’s iconic camera style and recreate it on demand, and one in which he describes his game as “an interface that will allow you to play life.”
I understand our infatuation with unadulterated self-direction, and I worry sometimes that it’s eroding our commitment to understand, on a broad, shared level, where we have been and what we have decided. And I share the disorientation so many of us feel when we hear of an algorithm that can codify the creative genius of Martin Scorcese in order to improve the narrative flow of a video game — and I can see why such a development could be very, very cool.
Both trends bear watching, and remembering, and questioning, by all of us.
Interesting piece on NPR this morning in which Shankra Vedantam reviews some of the recent research in neuroscience.
In case you missed it, the Public Charter Schools Board of DC has proposed a common framework for assessing the quality of all preschool and lower elementary programs. The original proposal sparked arguments for and against the plan; led to a petition campaign of protest; and anchored a lively hourlong discussion on public radio. Lots of people wrote the board to share their own ideas and feedback, and, earlier this week, the Board unanimously approved a revised policy.
What did the PCSB get right, and where is its plan still lacking?
The first time I learned about Diane Ravitch is a lot like the first time I learned about Ronald Reagan.
Let me explain.
Three recent articles seem to capture the promise and the peril of the charter movement all at once.
First, there was my piece exploring the evolving case law that challenges the notion that public charters are indeed, under the law, public schools.
Then there was the news from a recent study suggesting that charters are not, as is widely believed, pushing out kids with special needs at a disproportionate rate.
And then there was the question of whether charter schools should allow children who live in the neighborhood to receive preferential treatment in the admissions process.
Good food for thought on all fronts — and a reminder to me that anyone who speaks of charter schools as purely good or evil should not be trusted. As with interpreting the law, the best answer is almost always, “It depends.”