Required Reading

by Robert Pondiscio
October 25th, 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

Does “Nature Deficit Disorder” Affect the Brain?
Richard Louv, author of the best-seller The Last Child in the Woods, claims our children are suffering from “nature deficit disorder.” What’s the basis for his claim?

Attendance Is Not On The Test
More than 90,000 of New York City’s elementary school students–20 percent–missed at least a month of classes during the last school year.

The Motivated Will Inherit the Earth
Diane Ravitch on paying students to attend school and get good grades: “Interesting, isn’t it that while students in other countries are paying $1,500 a year for the chance to learn more, many American students will be paid that same amount just to do what they ought to be doing in their own self-interest?”

Grammar Makes a Comeback
The government has released a draft curriculum that unequivocally calls for the explicit teaching of the basic structures of the English language. In Australia.

At the Core
The Longmont Times
Next month, eight teachers from Flagstaff will present units at the Core Knowledge National Conference in Anaheim, Calif. — more teachers from a single school on a national stage than any other school.

In Other Blogs

A Disrespect for Knowledge at Bridging Differences
There’s a connection between the economic crisis we’re now in and our misbegotten effort to “reform” schools.  Maybe it’s got something to do with our disrespect for knowledge.

The Future of Charter Schools? at Eduflack
With both presidential candidates discussing school choice as a plank in their educational platforms, it is only natural to start thinking about the role of charter schools in the coming years.

No campaign education advisor left behind at the Education Gadfly
There are two education camps jockeying for position in a potential Obama administration–a “reform” and an “establishment” camp. This week their infighting spilled out into the public domain.

Two Steps Forward…Two Steps Back… at It’s Not All Flowers and Sausages
During the week that students in Mimi’s school are banned from recess, they have to bring books with them. So they can read. As punishment. Dude. “How do you think my little strugglers are going to take to finding a good book now?”

Teaching and Curriculum

U.S. cities’ math scores split compared to rest of the world
USA Today
Fourth- and eighth-grade students in six U.S. cities — Austin, Boston, Charlotte, Houston, New York City and San Diego — actually hold their own against international competitors.

Delighted — or Deflated — by Dollars
The Washington Post
Washington, DC’s experimental program to pay 3,300 middle school students for good grades and behavior is filled with valuable life lessons about hard work, thrift and showing up on time, its supporters say.

Colleges Continue Irrational Policies On IB Program
The Washington Post
Jay Mathews can’t understand why so many colleges refuse to give credit to students who do well on final exams in IB courses while giving credit to students for similar (but in many cases less-demanding) AP courses.

Schools in Need Employ Teachers From Overseas
USA Today
A growing number of school districts are hiring teachers from foreign countries to fill shortages in math, science and special education.

Judge Says No To Campaign Buttons
The New York Times
A federal judge on Friday upheld New York City’s policy prohibiting public school teachers from wearing political buttons in the classroom.

Education Policy

Report: Counting on Graduation
The Education Trust
Among industrialized nations, the United States is the only country in which today’s young people are less likely than their parents to have earned a high school diploma. A new report from the Education Trust calls on states to ratchet up expectations for high school graduation, substantially and immediately.

Texas Testing Rules Could Change
The Houston Chronicle
Under a proposed plan to overhaul the state’s school accountability system, Texas elementary and middle school students would no longer have to pass the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test to advance to the next grade level.

Under the ‘No Child’ Microscope
The Washington Post
Like a struggling student in a class of high achievers, Hoffman-Boston Elementary School has fallen into an unenviable position. It is the first school in Northern Virginia under a federal mandate to restructure because of lagging student performance.

The Evolution of Teach for America
U.S. News & World Report
D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee and her fellow Teach for America alumni could bring a new approach to education reform

Homeschooling and Parenting

Home-Schooling: State groups key to success, growth
The Washington Times
One of the key components of the success and growth of home-schooling in the United States has been state home-school organizations.

Will election affect right to homeschool?
The Appeal-Democrat (Ca.)
Neither Barack Obama nor John McCain have mentioned much about homeschooling. Joe Biden and Sarah Palin seem pretty mum on the concept as well. The best we can do is look at their views on education to try and figure out what that might mean to our families and our way of life.

Oklahomans are OK with homeschooling
The Edmond Sun
Oklahoma’s legal climate with respect to home education is probably the most favorable in the nation. The climate of public opinion in Oklahoma is also friendly. Sixty-nine percent of Oklahomans strongly or somewhat favor the right to homeschool, while 26 percent strongly or somewhat oppose.

Et Alia

Internet, Cellphones May Strengthen Family Unit, Study Finds
The Washington Post
The American family is as tight-knit as in the last generation — or more so — because of the widespread use of cellphones and the Internet, according to a new poll.

Social Skills Pay Off–Literally
The study from the University of Illinois finds that the good social skills we displayed in high school — being conscientious and cooperative, for instance — are better indicators of future earnings than any academic honors.