Free school dinner, barefoot prof and how to help poor kids
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Tuesday, October 19, 2010
1) Thousands now getting dinner at school, too D.C. public schools have started serving an early dinner to an estimated 10,000 students, many of whom are now receiving three meals a day from the system as it expand efforts to curb childhood hunger and poor nutritition. Free and reduced-price breakfast and lunch long have been staples in most urban school systems. But the District is going a step further in 99 of its 123 schools and reaching nearly a quarter of its total enrollment. Montgomery and Prince George's Country also offer a third meal of the day in some schools but not on the scale undertaken in the city. The program, which will cost the school system about $5.7 million this year, comes at a time of heightened concern about childhood poverty in the city. Census data show that the poverty rate among African American children is 43 percent, up from 31 percent in 2007 and significantly higher than national rates. » Read full article
2) Low-income students do better in affluent schools Low-income students in Montgomery County performed better when they attended affluent elementary schools instead of ones with higher concentrations of poverty, according to a new study that suggests economic integration is a powerful but neglected school-reform tool. The debate over reforming public education has focused mostly on improving individual schools through better teaching and expanded accountability efforts. But the study, to be released Friday, addresses the potential impact of policies that mix income levels across several schools or an entire district. And it suggests that such policies could be more effective than directing extra resources at higher-poverty schools. The idea is easier to apply in areas with substantial middle-class populations and more difficult in communities, such as the District, with large concentrations of poverty. Yet it lends fresh support to an idea as old as the Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education ruling in 1954: Segregated schools - in this case, separated by economics, not law - are rarely as good as diverse ones at educating low-income students. » Read full article
3) A cappella catches on at colleges When the Saxatones and the other five a cappella singing groups hold their annual rush at Georgetown University, hundreds of underclassmen race to sing for each ensemble. The audition process is so extensive that it might remind some students of getting into college in the first place: Paperwork and surveys. Ever-narrowing lists of callbacks. Passionate persuasion. Offers and rejections. Initiation ceremonies featuring singing, traditional rites and, most of the time, drinking. For decades, a cappella was a tradition that thrived mainly at Ivy League institutions and small liberal arts schools. But a cappella is enjoying an explosion on all manner of campuses, with new groups popping up every year, burgeoning national a cappella competitions and, for the first time in about half a century, a high profile in the popular culture. » Go to the online page
4) Can Rhee's replacement deliver on her agenda, without the drama? As Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee winds down a turbulent 31/2 years in the District, she leaves in her wake a question that will be largely Kaya Henderson's to answer: Can school reform continue with the same velocity and ambition under a leadership that values consensus and collaboration over blunt force and broken crockery? Henderson's charge from presumptive mayor-elect Vincent C. Gray (D), who wants her to be his interim - and possibly permanent - chancellor, is to make sure that the answer is yes. "I'm totally confident we can come together and push reforms with the same urgency," she said in a phone interview Thursday (a request for an office visit was declined). She sounded upbeat but a little frayed from her Wednesday unveiling and a trip to Bahrain last week for an international education conference. » Read full article
1) CLASS STRUGGLE:Jay Mathews on the school that's discouraging curiosity Westfield High School in Fairfax County is one of the largest and most competitive public schools in America. It is not unusual that 180 sophomores enrolled in Advanced Placement World History this year, more students than most U.S. high schools have taking AP courses of any kind. What did surprise some Westfield students and their parents was a sheet titled "Expectations of Integrity" included in the materials handed out by the three AP World History teachers. Their number one rule discouraged random outbreaks of curiosity: "You are only allowed to use your OWN knowledge, your OWN class notes, class handouts, your OWN class homework, or The Earth and Its Peoples textbook to complete assignments and assessments UNLESS specifically informed otherwise by your instructor. " » Go to blog
2) THE ANSWER SHEET: Valerie Strauss on how billionaire funders hurt schools Today the foundation set up by billionaires Eli and Edythe Broad is giving away $2 million to an urban school district that has pursued education reform that they like. On Friday a Florida teacher is running 50 miles to raise money so that he and his fellow teachers don't have to spend their own money to buy paper and pencils, binders (1- and 2-inch), spiral notebooks, composition books and printer ink. Together the two events show the perverted way schools are funded in 2010. Very wealthy people are donating big private money to their own pet projects: charter schools, charter school management companies, teacher assessment systems. (The latest example is Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's $100 million donation to the Newark public schools, given with the provision that Zuckerberg, apparently an education reform expert, play a big role in determining success.)» Go to blog
3) D.C. SCHOOLS INSIDER: Bill Turque on how Rhee "fell short" In a valedictory piece co-written for our Sunday Outlook section, outgoing Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee acknowledge that they undermined their school reform efforts by not building stronger support for the sweeping changes. "When it came to ensuring broad support for our work, we fell short," they wrote. "The lessons learned from that weakness, however, can become a strength. We reach out today to ask the entire community to embrace the school reform efforts in the months and years ahead.» Go to blog
4) COLLEGE INC.: Daniel de Vise on the barefoot prof Daniel Howell, a biology professor at Virginia's Liberty University, is on a "crusade to challenge America's cultural addiction to shoes", according to a feature in the Richmond Times-Dispatch that has hit the wires. Howell "likens the shoe to a cast that immobilizes an otherwise healthy foot and prevents it from functioning as nature intended," the article says. His argument doesn't always go over well in restaurants. So he carries a letter from the state health department that says bare feet in a restaurant is not a health code violation. » Go to blog
5) CAMPUS OVERLOAD: Jenna Johnson on the five types of college drinkers A new study of college drinkers has found that about two-thirds of students binge drink on a weekly basis -- for a guy, that means chugging five drinks in two hours. For women, it's four drinks. On average, students said they did so about twice a week. Okay, so maybe that's old news. But here's something that caught my eye in a news release about the study (which was paid for by the Ad Council and The Century Council): A breakdown of the different types of drinkers, complete with nicknames. » Go to blog
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"Good. I would rather see money spent on kids in need than inflated salaries. While this helps alleviate the hunger problem on an immediate level, more profound steps should be taken to educate the parents/caretakers on how to put together inexpensive, nutritious meals for their families. Basic skills that everyone should know. It is great to see that DC recognizes and immediately addresses nutritional needs for its young students, who, through no fault of their own, are unable to go to bed without empty stomachs. Nutrition and education are entwined. Teaching adults how to meet those goals will help the families and in turn, teach the children that nutritional meals do not have to cost a lot. Many of us have/had mothers who had to do a lot with a little, and we learned from their lessons. "