kitchen table math, the sequel: 11/30/14 - 12/7/14

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Philip Hamburger at CUNY tomorrow

We're going ----

American Education and the Separation of Church and State: Fact vs. Fiction

Event Date: 12/4/2014
Time: 5:30-7:15 pm
Location: Roosevelt House, 47-49 E 65th Street, New York, NY

Philip Hamburger
Maurice and Hilda Friedman Professor of Law
Columbia University

Matthew Yellin
Social Studies Teacher and Curriculum Coordinator
Hillside Arts and Letters Academy, Jamaica, Queens

Ashley Berner
Deputy Director
CUNY Institute for Education Policy

Galloping through world history

re: New York State Common Core Social Studies Framework Grades 9-12
Catherine forwarded this social studies framework (or whatever it is). This monstrosity would be laughable if I didn't know how much pain it was going to inflict on students and teachers. The idea of galloping through world history from 10,000 (!!) BCE to the present in 9th and 10th grades is beyond absurd. The only way to do this is with breathtaking superficiality, especially in the 9th grade, which goes from 10,000 BCE all the way to 1750 (yup, that's 1750 in what used to be called AD). Fourteen-year-olds are supposed to cover all this content knowledge while also learning the "practices" of history and social studies, following the strands of 10 ridiculously huge themes, and developing "literacy" in reading, writing, and talking about history.

It seems as though the geniuses who devised the program fused together the goals of Columbia Teachers College critical thinking devotees with Hirschian content knowledge folks and then added in the ideas of everyone residing between the two poles (Common Core, National History Standards, National Council for the Social Studies, etc.) What an ungodly mess!
and see: A historian reads New York State's Common Core Social Studies Standards 9-12

Devices in boxes

New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer said Monday the city school system has poor inventory controls and inaccurate records, leaving thousands of computers and tablets either missing or unused.


The comptroller said his team investigated computers and tablets bought from Apple Inc. and Lenovo Group for nine schools and department headquarters from July 2011 through June 2013.

The report said the department was unable to name the whereabouts of 1,817 laptop and desk computers at these sites, and auditors found 394 devices sitting in unopened boxes, some for years.

Mr. Stringer said he believed this was probably “just the tip of the iceberg” of lost or unused goods among city schools.

Audit: Thousands of New York City School Computers Are Missing or Unused
Report by City Comptroller Says School System Has Poor Inventory Controls
Dec. 2, 2014 12:10 a.m. ET
Are there recall elections for 2-billion dollar technology bonds?

Hope so.

Monday, December 1, 2014

It's the peers, stupid

I remember being struck, years ago, by Laurence Steinberg's idea that what parents in expensive school districts are really buying isn't good schools but good peers.

Made sense.

From a new NBER paper:
When effort is observable to peers, students may act to avoid social penalties by conforming to prevailing norms. To test for such behavior, we conducted an experiment in which 11th grade students were offered complimentary access to an online SAT preparatory course. Signup sheets differed randomly across students (within classrooms) only in the extent to which they emphasized that the decision to enroll would be kept private from classmates.


When offered the course in a non-honors class, these students were 25 percentage points less likely to sign up if the decision was public rather than private. But if they were offered the course in one of their honors classes, they were 25 percentage points more likely to sign up when the decision was public. Thus, students are highly responsive to who their peers are and what the prevailing norm is when they make decisions.

How Does Peer Pressure Affect Educational Investments?
Leonardo Bursztyn, Robert Jensen
NBER Working Paper No. 20714
Issued in November 2014