Daily Roundup Sunday 8/4/2013

In a recent speech about the economy, Obama talked quite a bit about higher education, citing the controversial Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) as a legitimate way to bring down the costs of college and reduce the number of years it takes to get a meaningful degree. This has prompted some to start talking about the political viability of federal policies supporting MOOCs.

Jonathan Rees, a professor at Colorado State University, is already rallying the troops against MOOCs. Jonathan Chait, over at New York Magazine, though, says opposition to MOOCs upholds and strengthens class divisions:

College professors are good people, and nobody wants to hurt them. At the same time, designing a higher education system around maintaining living standards for college professors is an insane idea. The goal of the system ought to be making higher education effective and affordable for students. Rees waxes poetic about the joys of in-person liberal education, and I greatly enjoyed my classic college experience, with the gorgeous campus green and intramural basketball and watching campus protestors say interestingly crazy stuff at rallies. But insisting that’s the only way a student ought to be able to get a degree, in an economy where a college degree is necessary for a middle-class life, is to doom the children of non-affluent families to crushing college debt, or to lock them out of upward mobility altogether.

Speaking of politics, there’s been a lot of talk this week about the political future of the ed reform movement, speculating fallout from Tony Bennett’s resignation and possible investigations. Anthony Cody thinks it means the end of the reform movement. Although, that’s probably making mountains out of molehills. To his credit, though, even conservative voices are starting to criticize the reform movement.

And if the political is too ideological for you, here are some practical resources:

This Google Doc with all of the #edchat times listed for Twitter.

And this interactive online map that shows demolition sites in Detroit.

Daily Roundup Saturday 8/3/2013

1. Maybe the best piece of education journalism I’ve read this weekend is this piece by Owen Davis. He attempts to synthesize all of the recent TFA-critic movements and to find common threads throughout them. A couple of the former corps members’ stories really resonated with me. For instance, Marie Levy-Pabst’s story was especially salient:

Another side of his argument finds expression in Marie Levey-Pabst, a 2004 TFA alumna who pursued women’s studies and anti-racist theory in college. Now a public-school teacher in Boston, she argued on Anthony Cody’s blog that TFA isn’t only unable to prepare its corps for the complex dynamics present when poor children of color receive a teacher who is, on average, whiter and more privileged than they. Worse, the program serves as a vehicle and expression of that privilege.

At Institute, she groaned at being assigned Peggy McIntosh’s “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Bacpack,” a standby of its genre that she had read multiple times. She asked if one introductory essay—indeed, any reading— could fully inoculate recruits from pernicious bigotries like colorblind racism and the white savior complex. Moreover, the cursory discussions left many of her fellow recruits “stuck on the idea that they aren’t racist,” precisely the danger of colorblind racism.

If you think this piece is too critical, Owen Davis also offers up some concrete solutions on his Tumblr. One solution that I hadn’t heard before involves recruiting high school seniors from low-income communities to become teachers:

As Matt Barnum, another critical TFA alum, has pointed out, TFA spends gobs of money on recruitment and training: about $38,000 per corps member. That’s enough to provide scholarships to low-income people who’d like to become teachers, and who’d be more likely to teach in their own neighborhoods. And that doesn’t include recruitment costs. 

2. Dr. Andre Perry writes at The Grio about the importance of hearing more black voices of innovation in education. He says black communities are often seen as the antagonist to narratives about education reform that have white, idealistic protagonists. Perhaps the best part is when he goes into the history of education of African Americans post-slavery. African Americans, once freed, had actually started to educate themselves:

However, upon the Freedmen’s survey of the educational terrain, officials found “native schools,” schools taught by ex-slaves, already in existence. The ex-slave’s thirst for education illustrates an essential principle in black education. Private and religious schools should always have a place in our quest for universal education because they exemplify some of the highest forms of self-reliance and determination. Evidence of self-reliance manifested in the establishment of schools reminds us that charter schools or vouchers are nothing new and they have a deep connection to black history.

3. Ashley Woods over at Huffington Post Detroit covers the White Entrepreneurial Guy Meme. For the life of me, I don’t understand why people like Jason Lorimer don’t take these kinds of criticisms more seriously. 


Daily Roundup Thursday 8/1/2013

Some things that happened today in education and in Detroit:

On Thursday, Congress decided to go back on doubling of interest rates on student loans.

Governor Rick Snyder announced a new detention center in Detroit.

Sandra Stotsky, who was in charge of the development of the highly-praised MA standards, writes about her opposition to the Common Core. She writes:

Common Core was/is not about high-quality national education standards. It was/is not about getting low-income, high-achieving students into advanced math and science courses in high school and then into college. CCSSI was and is about how to lower the academic level of what states require for high school diplomas and for admission to public colleges.

Tony Bennett, edreform wonder boy, resigned from his position as Education Commissioner of Florida after speculation surfaced that he fixed test scores of a charter school. Bennett, however, denies the charges.

The folks at Education Next take a look at the second Race to the Top competition recently announced by the US Department of Education.

Edit: Previously I said Rick Scott instead of Rick Snyder. Too many Republican Ricks making the news.