Just wanted to share three different articles about education that I've read in the last week or so.
The first one is my favorite, "Korean students go online to cram for critical exams". It is a NY Times article about how a guy quit his job as an extremely well paid private tutor to help set up a website that makes test prep for the critically important entrance exams much more affordable and available. Government spending to set up top-quality online tutor and test-prep programs definitely makes sense and seems to be a good approach to countering the achievement gap.
The second is a Malcolm Gladwell article, "Most Likely to Succeed", that stoppable passed on to me. It raises some intriguing points and possible solutions about how to predict the success and effectiveness of teaching applicants (as well as NFL quarterbacks and financial advisers). For me, the most interesting part was when they were describing the evaluation that the University of Virginia's School of Education does. As a co-workers told me once, "Teaching is not an exact science" and that is true, but I think efforts like this are beneficial in finding out what makes some teachers so productive and effective. That is how we can improve. I also like that they point out research findings that I've heard a few times before about how the quality of the teacher is the biggest variable in a students education. It is carries more weight than quality of school and class size. A good teacher can offset and overcome those drawbacks.
The last article, "U.S. Efforts to Reshape Schools Faces Challenges" is another one from the NY Times. The teacher in the photo looks like she's 16! It focuses on Arne Duncan's plans to close down and reorganize hundreds of failing schools, similar to his actions when he was head of Chicago Public Schools. I wonder a bit where these quality teachers are going to come from that they are going to hire to re-open the schools? And why don't they already have a job? And it is worth noting that when they reopen the schools, they put in place all sorts of strategies that would seem to make sense for any struggling school, like advisory groups, student uniforms, parental involvement, tighter discipline, new labs, regular checking for progress and instuctional coaches to aid teachers in using the gathered data in planning their lessons.