Friday, September 24, 2010

New digital tool for teachers

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell has unveiled a new tool designed to encourage teacher collaboration and innovation called Brokers of Expertise
Brokers of Expertise is a dynamic Web site that allows educators to search for,and follow colleagues across the state who have had success in teaching specific strands of California’s content standards, or are working with similar types of students, and thus make their own experience in the classroom more effective. Teachers can use the site to form customized online groups to share experiences and challenges they face in the classroom and collaborate on ways to improve instruction. Users can share instructional practices through links, video, pictures, or documents that can make it easier for other teachers to replicate innovation in their own classrooms. The Web site also lists where each resource came from and provides a blog where educators may share their thoughts on the resource’s effectiveness.
You may wonder, when are teachers going to have the time to upload video, pictures or other documents. I was wondering that myself....

And speaking of digital tools, the South Monterey County Center for Arts and Technology will begin its fall digital video course for teens. Lunch and transportation provided for this free workshop at Cal State Monterey Bay. Beginning Oct. 2, students will spend five Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. learning all there is to know about video production and editing. Pre-registration and info at 831.869-6055 or information@,

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Separate and unequal?

From the "no kidding" department comes a new report that says minority children are segregated into high-poverty schools, away from wealthier white peers., a project of Harvard University that tracks indicators of diversity opportunity, quality of life and health for various racial and ethnic population groups, has just published Segregation and Exposure to High-Poverty Schools in Large Metropolitan Areas: 2008-09. The report ranks racial/ethnic segregation and exposure to high-poverty schools for public, primary school students in the 100 largest U.S. metropolitan areas, and reveals that black and Hispanic children attend very different schools than do white children and are disproportionately concentrated in high-poverty schools. Read the report here.
School segregation comes from housing segregation, and we don't have to go too far to find some shining examples locally. Carmel Unified: 74 percent white, 10 percent low income. Alisal Union in Salinas: 94 percent Latino, 79 percent low income.

And speaking about an educational system that does not provide equally for everybody, the buzz heralding the opening of "Waiting for Superman" is growing louder. Directed by David Guggenheim of "An Inconvenient Truth" fame, Waiting is an exploration of the current state of public education and how it's affecting U.S. children. It opens in Los Angeles and New York this Friday, and nationwide in October. For those of us who care about the public education system, it's an absolute must see.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Corporations and education

Two events this week that will likely resonate in the education community for a long time to come: one, Democratic voters fired Washington D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, and effectively along with him one of the movement's biggest superstars, District schools chief Michelle Rhee. Nathalie Hopkinson describes it best in her piece for The Atlantic: "This Spring, Rhee negotiated among the most revolutionary teacher's contracts in the country, which essentially broke the union, loosening tenure protections in exchange for the potential for teachers to make more money and earn performance bonuses. D.C. is being hailed as a model in urban education reform, and there are plans to replicate this model..."

Where the road meets the rubber is in the insistence of the charitable arm of Wal-Mart to retain Rhee to make sure she'd continue on the union-breaking war path or it would yank millions of dollars in funding, according to Hopkinson...

which leads me to the second event this week, also in Washington D.C.

President Obama announced Thursday the launch of a new organization called "Change the Equation," which will help the administration's goal to improve math and science education. In the prez words, Change the Equation "brings together a coalition of more than a hundred CEOs from the nation’s largest companies who are committed to bring innovative math and science programs to at least a hundred high-need communities over the next year."
Among the top execs invited to witness Obama's announcements were Ursula Burns from Xerox, Rex Tillerson of Exxon Mobil, Craig Barrett, former Intel CEO; Antonio Perez of Kodak; Glenn Britt from Time Warner.

So I'm curious. Will the funding of these corporations be contingent on whether school reform includes union-breaking measures? Can we really expect schools to work as businesses? If so, how do we measure "productivity" and for whom? And what happens to the kids who don't "produce"?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What does it mean to be an American?

of the country type?
The Bill of Rights Institute wants to know what you, high schoolers out there, think. Better yet, how you express yourselves in writing.
U.S. high school students and their teachers have a chance to win thousands of dollars in prize money by participating in the Bill of Rights Institute’s fifth annual Being an American Essay Contest. Top prize winners and their teachers will also receive all-expenses paid trips to the nation’s capital.
All you have to do: write a 750 word essay answering this question: “What civic value do you believe is most essential to being an American?”
The top three student winners and their teachers from each of the nine geographical regions will be announced at a special Washington, D.C. Awards Gala in the spring of 2011, where they will be awarded cash prizes of $5,000 (First Place), $1,000 (Second Place), and $500 (Third Place). The winning students will also explore the nation’s capital, meet contemporary American heroes and national leaders, and visit national landmarks.
Deadline to submit the essay is Dec. 1. For more information, click here. And get writing!

Now, here's news of a local girl who's already getting noticed at the state level. And has a chance to win big.
Aradhana Sinha, a 10th grade student at Salinas High School, is one of three finalists for the prestigious Outstanding Young Scientist Award presented by the California Association
of Professional Scientists (CAPS). The winner will be announced at a luncheon ceremony at the
Sacramento Zoo’s Kampala Center from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Friday, September 17.
Aradhana, 14, was selected for her project titled “Effect of Virus Competition and Dominance in Different Host Types” which looks at how two different types of viruses reacted in a range of crops (tomato, spinach, lettuce and tobacco) when present on their own and when combined in the same plant.
Aradhana believes her research could help prevent future virus outbreaks in crops.
The winner will receive a $1,000 scholarship award and the two runner-ups each receive a $500 scholarship award. So the least Aradhana will come home with is $500.
And they say youth nowadays are apathetic, conformist, yada yada yada. Don't think so....