Required Reading

by Robert Pondiscio
September 7th, 2008

A weekly roundup of the week’s most important news, information and blog posts about curriculum, teaching, education policy and other items of interest to the Core Knowledge community.

Core Knowledge

Reading Strategies: A Little Goes a Long Way
Teaching students comprehension strategies does help, Dan Willingham writes, but too much time is currently devoted to them.

On Reading: Why Content Knowledge Matters
Reader bring background knowledge to the task of reading so that they are ready to fill the gaps that writers will leave,” Dan Willingham observes.  “Small wonder that students who score poorly on reading tests suddenly look like terrific readers when given a passage on a topic that they know a lot about,” he writes.

10 New York City School to Focus Reading Skills on Content
The New York Times
In a bid to correct what he called a “knowledge deficit” among New York City public school students, Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein announces a pilot program that would overhaul the way children in 10 city schools are taught to read.

Reading and Knowledge: An Interview With E.D. Hirsch
E. D. Hirsch speaks with Public School Insights about the Core Knowledge Reading Program, discussing the connection between content and reading comprehension.  ”If you push out subject matter,” Hirsch notes, “you’re also pushing out reading comprehension.” 

Let’s Be Careful Out There
Not everything you need to know to be effective has been covered in class.  Veteran teachers offer their advice for first year teachers. 

Best of the Blogs

There He Goes Again at Britannica Blog
Charles Murray’s new book goes far beyond what research and common sense allow to say that we should identify children’s innate capacity in first grade and sort them into different kinds of educational experiences. Karin Chenoweth writes neither science nor history is really on his side.

Holding Teachers Accountable Ain’t That Easy at The Tempered Radical
I’m ready for accountability to be introduced to education, primarily because I want the opportunity to be rewarded differently based on my abilities as an educator.  But real barriers must be addressed before teachers can be fairly held accountable for “student learning.” 

Johnny Says: Show Me the Money at The Education Gadfly 
K-12 education must welcome promising innovations and responsible experiments, but Liam Julian argues the consequences of paying students for right behavior far outweigh whatever benefits might be accrued.

This Strange New Era of Reform at Bridging Differences
Diane Ravitch says the mantle of “reformer” has passed to those who would dismantle public education, piece by piece.

What Does Florida Tell Us About Broader/Bolder? at Jay P. Greene’s Blog
Given that we can’t spend our way out of our K-12 problems (and it wouldn’t work if we tried) we should instead seek ways to improve the bang we get for our existing bucks. Fortunately, Florida shows that it can be done.

Teaching and Curriculum

Great Teaching, Not Buildings, Make Great Schools
The Washington Post
Great buildings don’t make great schools, writes Jay Mathews. It might be better if we spent our money on principals and teachers who inspire, who don’t take lethargy or resentment for an answer.

Students face a long list of obstacles on the way to college degree
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
In a seven-part series, the Post-Gazette examines some of the obstacles to success in college and what both students and schools can do to overcome them.

College is Not a Must
Christian Science Monitor
Despite what the public is willing to acknowledge, Walt Gardner writes, the importance of a bachelor’s degree has been wildly oversold.

Education Policy

Democrats, teachers unions now divided on many issues
USA Today
A funny thing happened to the Democratic Party on the way to an education platform: The party has visibly split with teachers unions, its longtime allies, on key issues.

Better Education Through Innovation
The Los Angeles Times
If we want to spur innovation in education, says Newark Mayor Cory Booker and others, the Department of Education should act more like the National Institutes of Health. 

Homeschooling and Parenting

Raising the Bar:  How Parents Can Fix Education
The Wall Street Journal
It’s time for some radical change in your local schools that only parents can bring about: start insisting that your children fully apply themselves to their studies — and commit yourself to doing your part.

Back to (Home) School
Homeschooled children are more likely to be white than Black or Hispanic; to be in a household with three or more children than one with fewer children; to live in a two-parent household with one parent in the labor force than in another configuration; and to have college-educated parents.  Homeschooling also weakens the case for teaching as a profession.

Et Alia

Educators Risk Their Lives to Save School Gunman’s
Cleveland Plain Dealer
Instead of running away from gunshots Tuesday morning, Principal Paul Lombardo and Assistant Principal Jeff Lyons chased a 15-year-old student with a .40-cailiber handgun

Sid the Science Kid Works Hard to Inspire to Inspire Others
The New York Times
Sid, who is animated in a process called digital puppetry, is an ambassador for what education types might call science readiness. “Sid the Science Kid,” a series for preschoolers that begins Monday on PBS, is done in that hyperactive style that adults have determined is what the very young prefer, seeks to put across the fundamentals of science.