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Strauss: The greatest commencement speech ever

Sat, 05/17/2014 - 11:58am

I know that the headline of this post is open to debate. What I like in a commencement speech may not be what you like in a commencement speech.

But for the sake of non-school reform argument, I’m going to declare for the moment that the greatest commencement speech ever was not the famous Steve Jobs speech of 2005 at Stanford (“Stay hungry, stay foolish”) … and it was not the 1941 Winston Churchill speech at Harrow School (in which, incidentally, he did not, as famously reported, stand up, say “Never give up, never give up, never give up,” and then sit down)  … and it was not the one Dolly Parton gave at the University of Tennessee in 2009 (“What has worked for me may not work for you… wigs, tight clothes, push-up bras”) … and it was not the one Jon Stewart gave at the College of William and Mary in 2004 (“Thank you Mr. President, I had forgotten how crushingly dull these ceremonies are”) … and it was not the one Kermit the Frog gave in 1996 at Southampton College (“As we say in the wetlands, ‘Ribbit-ribbit-kneedeep-ribbit,’ which means ‘May success and a smile always be yours … even when you’re knee-deep in the sticky muck of life.’”) And it wasn’t any of these other hilarious speeches.

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Categories: Education News

Strauss: How to help students of color, 60 years after historic Brown v. Board ruling

Sat, 05/17/2014 - 10:32am

On May 17, 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court  ruled that state laws establishing separate schools for black and white students were unconstitutional in the historic case Brown vs. Board of Education. I’ve published a few pieces on the legacy of the decision, here and here. Following is a new piece on where the United States should go from here to realize the promise of Brown. It was written by U.S. Rep. Frederica S. Wilson, a Democrat who represents parts of Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, and Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association, the country’s largest teachers union.

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Categories: Education News

Strauss: Protest at Harvard over commencement speaker at education school

Sat, 05/17/2014 - 9:57am

Dozens of student and alumni at the Harvard Graduate School of Education issued a statement (see below) protesting the selection of Colorado state Sen. Michael Johnston (D) as the school’s 2014 commencement speaker because, they say, he “embraces a vision of education reform that relies heavily on test-based accountability while weakening the due process protections of teachers.”

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Categories: Education News

Fairfax school system to see administrative reorganization

Fri, 05/16/2014 - 12:25pm

Fairfax County Schools Superintendent Karen Garza plans to implement sweeping changes to the system’s organization, a shake-up that will create new executive leadership positions and will regroup schools to pair high-achieving high schools with those that are struggling.

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Categories: Education News

Strauss: Are we abandoning public education 60 years after historic Brown ruling?

Fri, 05/16/2014 - 11:07am

May 17 is the 60th anniversary of the famous U.S. Supreme Court  Brown v. Board of Education ruling, the 1954 decision that banned the “separate but equal” doctrine that allowed states and school districts to designate some schools “whites-only” and others “Negroes-only” and helped launch an era of civil rights activism. I recently published a report by Economic Policy Institute researcher and author Richard Rothstein about the legacy of Brown, which you can read here, and here is a new piece about how the “school choice” movement has failed to honor the Brown decision. Written by Barbara Miner, a Milwaukee-based reporter and the author of “Lessons from the Heartland: A Turbulent Half-Century of Public Education in an Iconic American City,” this piece talks in part about Milwaukee, where, she writes, “more students receive vouchers than in any U.S. city” but where “we are abandoning the very institution of public education.”

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Categories: Education News

Fairfax school board budget woes continue before vote

Fri, 05/16/2014 - 4:18am

Fairfax County school board members held a work session Thursday night on next year’s budget that ultimately left more questions unanswered about the school system’s finances only a week before they must make a final decision.

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Categories: Education News

Strauss: Where Gates money is going in education world this year

Fri, 05/16/2014 - 4:02am

Where in the education world has Bill Gates been putting his foundation’s money this year?

A look at some of the biggest grants awarded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation — by far the largest philanthropy in the world — shows millions of dollars being spent to foster “cooperation” between traditional public schools and charter schools in Chicago. Significant money grants were also given to institutions seeking to improve higher-education access and success for underserved students. Half a million dollars was given to help improve communications around the Common Core State Standards, but this is less support for Common Core than the foundation has given in previous years.

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Categories: Education News

D.C. education budget heads to full council for approval

Thu, 05/15/2014 - 4:02pm

The D.C. Council Education Committee unanimously approved a budget proposal that delays the renovation of the old Spingarn High School in Northeast Washington in order to modernize other schools around the city where parents have been clamoring for improvements.

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Categories: Education News

Prince George’s BOE plans health and fitness walk

Thu, 05/15/2014 - 1:06pm

Members of the Prince George’s County Board of Education are calling it “The Boardwalk.”

But students, parents and staff are invited to join them.

The school board is sponsoring a health and fitness walk on Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon at the Tucker Road Athletic Complex in Fort Washington.

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Categories: Education News

AP exams in Montgomery: Which tests get the most takers?

Thu, 05/15/2014 - 12:41pm

With high school students across the country steeped in Advanced Placement exams this month, some may wonder exactly what they are being tested on.

In Montgomery County, the most popular AP exam appears to reflect a little of the Washington region itself: U.S. government and politics. For each of the last three years, it has been the only AP exam given in Montgomery with more than 4,000 takers, according to district figures.

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Categories: Education News

Strauss: Charter schools ‘must’ comply with U.S. civil rights laws, Education Dept. says (finally)

Thu, 05/15/2014 - 10:00am

The Obama administration has just released through the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights what it says is “new guidance confirming that the same federal civil rights laws that apply to other public schools apply equally to public charter schools.”

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Categories: Education News

Strauss: Pushback on standardized testing around the country getting stronger

Thu, 05/15/2014 - 4:02am

To get an idea of what is going on around the country in regards to the growing anti-standardized testing movement, look at the following collection of stories that have come out in the last week or about the growing resistance around the country to high-stakes standardized testing. This list was issued by the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, a non-profit organization known as FairTest that is dedicated to ending the misuse and abuse of standardized testing. FairTest puts out an updated list every week.

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Categories: Education News

Parents protest cuts to autism program in Arlington

Wed, 05/14/2014 - 9:56pm

Some Arlington County parents are protesting a proposed cut in the number of aides who help students with mild forms of autism function in mainstream classes.

Several years ago, the county began offering a program with more structured support to help high-functioning students in middle school and high school — those often diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome — with social skills that they need in the classroom. About 60 students are enrolled in the program.

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Categories: Education News

Catania seeks to shift school renovations, add at-risk funds

Wed, 05/14/2014 - 5:47pm

D.C. Council Education Committee Chairman David A. Catania is proposing to delay reopening the old Spingarn High School for several years in order to pay for renovations at existing schools, where parents have been advocating for improvements.

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Categories: Education News

D.C.’s Roosevelt High to become international-themed school

Wed, 05/14/2014 - 3:37pm

D.C. Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson announced Wednesday that she plans to transform Roosevelt High into an “international relations focused school” when it reopens, fully renovated, in fall 2015.

Roosevelt is one of several neighborhood high schools with poor test scores and high truancy rates that has struggled to attract students in recent years. Its relaunch is part of the school system’s broader effort to redesign secondary schools across the city.

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Categories: Education News

Laura Nedd Shelton named Prince George’s Teacher of the Year

Wed, 05/14/2014 - 12:45pm

Sixteen years ago, Laura Nedd Shelton was a correctional officer in a men’s prison in Virginia wondering how she could help affect people’s lives — especially young men’s lives — before they made bad choices that had an impact on their futures.

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Categories: Education News

Strauss: Is Georgetown University ‘Catholic enough’?

Wed, 05/14/2014 - 11:38am

William Peter Blatty, the famous author of “The Exorcist,” a graduate of Georgetown University, and a doctrinaire Catholic, submitted a petition to the Vatican last year asking church officials to strip his alma mater of  the labels Catholic and Jesuit because, it says, neither the faculty nor the student body are, in fact, Catholic enough.

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Categories: Education News

Schmoke named president of U. of Baltimore

Wed, 05/14/2014 - 10:04am

A top official at Howard University was named president of the University of Baltimore on Wednesday.

Kurt L. Schmoke, interim provost and general counsel at Howard, is no stranger to Baltimore. He was a three-term mayor of the city from 1987 to 1999. In the past decade Schmoke has held a variety of positions at the historically black university in Northwest Washington, including law school dean.

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Categories: Education News

Strauss: Why D.C. should take Youth Court program off life support

Wed, 05/14/2014 - 9:50am

The Youth Court of the District of Columbia, one of the only organizations dealing with juvenile delinquency in Washington, is currently on life support, writes Michael Shank, associate director of legislative affairs for the Friends Committee on National Legislation. Here’s his post about why the D.C. mayor should keep it.

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Categories: Education News

Strauss: Holder, Duncan asked to investigate ‘racially discriminatory’ school closings in New Orleans

Wed, 05/14/2014 - 9:49am

This week marks the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, the 1954 Supreme Court ruling that was intended to strike down the “separate but equal” doctrine that codified racism in America’s public schools. You can read a report here about what it has and has not accomplished. Following is an open letter (see full text below) to Attorney General Eric Holder and Education Secretary Arne Duncan from a national organization called Journey for Justice Alliance requesting that they investigate “racially discriminatory school closings” in New Orleans.

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Categories: Education News
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