Category Archives: School choice

February 5, 2013, 7:45 am

Khan Academy Redux

The last thing I expected to encounter this week was a resurgence in the Khan Academy Debates of this past summer. Those, if you remember, centered around this spoof video created by my GVSU colleagues John Golden and Dave Coffey. My own contribution to those debates remains the single most viewed post I’ve ever published in nearly ten years of blogging. But honestly, I hadn’t thought much about Khan Academy since then — until Monday afternoon.

Dave (Coffey) sent me a tweet alerting me to this whitepaper published by the Pacific Research Institute, a free-market think tank based in San Francisco. “Look at page 14,” Dave said. I did, and found that I was being used as a prime example of a Khan Skeptic. Actually I am the last in a list of skeptics whose skepticism the authors attempt to dispatch. I’m in good company, as Keith Devlin is the first on that list and Veritasium…

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March 26, 2008, 5:24 am

Back to the future

Via Slashdot, here’s an article from Modern Mechanix magazine from 1968 (complete with the original article scanned in) predicting what life will be like in 2008. The technological predictions are often surprisingly accurate:

The single most important item in 2008 households is the computer. These electronic brains govern everything from meal preparation and waking up the household to assembling shopping lists and keeping track of the bank balance. Sensors in kitchen appliances, climatizing units, communicators, power supply and other household utilities warn the computer when the item is likely to fail. A repairman will show up even before any obvious breakdown occurs.

Computers also handle travel reservations, relay telephone messages, keep track of birthdays and anniversaries, compute taxes and even figure the monthly bills for electricity, water, telephone and other utilities. Not…

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March 15, 2008, 8:01 am

School choice and streamlining

BusinessWeek’s TechBeat blog has this article about the federal panel report on K-8 mathematics instruction that I blogged about here. It’s good to see this report getting attention in the blogosphere and MSM. It needs more. One thing from the BusinessWeek article that needs a slight bit of correction, though — it says:

The sad thing about the report that despite the unanimity on a panel that represents a broad spectrum of the mathematics and math education communities, it will take a decade or more for its recommendations to be implemented. It simply takes that long for curriculum guidelines to be recast, textbooks to be rewritten, and teachers to be trained or retrained. And in that time, a lot more damage can be done.

That may be true of traditional public schools, where red tape and opposing political forces must be overcome at every turn, but it does not have to be true of private …

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October 17, 2007, 11:03 am

Wednesday link-fest

You know, there’s some good stuff showing up in my RSS reader once I get a chance to read it:

  • There’s a 21-page paper titled “Are There Infinitely Many Primes?” over at arXiv. How do you write 21 pages on a question that was answered “yes” about 2500 years ago? You’ll have to go see for yourself.
  • xkcd turns the Turing Test around.
  • IHE has this article on dual enrollment (high school students taking college courses) and its benefits. I agree. I’ve been involved with a dual-enrollment program at my college, and I’m definitely preferring this approach over taking a so-called AP course taught and designed outside the auspices of a college that may or may not prepare students well for actual college courses.
  • Dana Huff is wondering whether there are programs out there that will donate laptops to teachers. There’s this program from the One Laptop Per Child project, but I’ve not seen a…

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May 20, 2007, 6:32 am

Unlikely mentors?

A task force in Maryland has been looking at ways to improve the performances of African-American boys in its public schools. Among the 18 different recommendations the task force has made is to initiate a mentoring program between these kids and adults. But look who the task force would like those adults to be:

Two of the more controversial proposals are suggestions to place troubled students at black-majority high schools into single-sex classes and to encourage nonviolent offenders to be mentors to students. [...]

On the recommendation to encourage ex-offenders convicted of nonviolent felonies to serve as mentors, the report says: “Maybe it’s counterintuitive to put children and ex-offenders together. And maybe it’s exactly what each one needs. Life’s lessons aren’t always learned from those who lived it flawlessly.”

But the report notes likely community concerns about such a…

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May 4, 2007, 10:41 am

Blocking kids from Indiana public schools

Here in Indiana, the state court of appeals has ruled that public school districts can refuse to enroll students if they want to go to public school part-time. An important example of when this might happen is in the case of homeschooled kids who want to pick up advanced or specialized courses. From the article:

The case involved Brownsburg schools, which had refused to accept two home-school students in three high school classes in the 2004-05 school year.

There were a lot of parents who wanted to pick and choose how to use public schools who will now have to reconsider,” said Steven D. Groth, an attorney for Brownsburg schools.

Appeals court Chief Judge John G. Baker wrote in the ruling issued this week that “home rule” statutes adopted in 1999 give Brownsburg “the authority to regulate and control the enrollment of students in its course offerings under its policy.”


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January 26, 2007, 10:50 am

Looking for an adventure?

The school system in New Orleans says it has just the ticket for you:

Some of New Orleans’ most desperate, run-down schools are beset with a severe shortage of teachers, and they are struggling mightily to attract candidates by appealing to their sense of adventure and desire to make a difference. Education officials are even offering to help new teachers find housing.

“There’s been an incredible outpouring of sympathy toward New Orleans. We feel we’re trying to say, ‘Here’s a clear path to go down if you want to act on that emotion,”’ said Matthew Candler, chief executive of the nonprofit New Schools for New Orleans, which is trying to recruit teachers. [...]

“Recruiting is a challenge,” said Kevin George, principal of Rabouin High School in downtown New Orleans. “The housing market is terrible. The area has a poor image due to the violence. … And then there…

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