Friday, December 3, 2010

Bits & Pieces

Out of the closet: Michelle Rhee dropped her Dem cover. The Waiting for Superman hero and Broad Academy grad has joined Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott's T-Party team.
Scott was elected last month to succeed Gov. Charlie Crist (I), who had quit the Republican Party to make an unsuccessful run for U.S. Senate. Florida, with one of the nation's most closely watched school systems, won a $700 million Race to the Top grant from the Obama administration to improve education. Crist vetoed a bill this year that would have expanded teacher merit pay. (WaPo)

FairTest's Monty Neil posts an interesting response to the the Ravitch/Finn debate over at NDSG group.
For quite some time Checker Finn of Fordham Foundation has been one of if not the most important ideologue and strategist for neoliberal ed 'reform' (deform). In a reply to Diane Ravitch's Wall St Journal op ed of a few days ago, Finn redefines 'local control' as form of the market, a commercial exchange: parents purchase (with government $) a slot in a 'local' school. Read the rest here.
I'm not sure why Alexander Russo became so exasperated after watching the terrific PBS report [video] on Chicago's fledgling Austin Polytech High School.
According to PBS "Austin Polytech is the only CPS high school dedicated to teaching students manufacturing skills. Along with social studies and English, students here take three to four years of pre-engineering courses." OK, but what about the school's success rate -- are the kids staying in class, staying in school, and passing those NIMSs tests?  About that we aren't told very much, and that makes me a little bit crazy.
So I say to Russo, don't go crazy--even a little bit. Get off your duff and find out how this small, themed school is doing. I asked school founder Dan Swinney who reports: "We have 25 kids with NIMS credentials. Now with an instructor we expect 80 kids will get one credential, and 60 kids will get the NIMS CNC credential." 
Swinney also sent along a 12-page progress report, "Austin Polytech; Building the Road as We Travel.
which is available upon request from Dan at


  1. Arne Duncan must be so proud of his protege.

  2. Great PBS show on Austin Poly. And it's not even a charter school. Amazing!

  3. good job, mike -- you're so resourceful. wouldn't it have been nice if the news segment had told us about the school's performance, and its students' test scores, too?

  4. Yes, you're right Alexander. It was driving me crazy not to know Austin Poly student test scores after watching that PBS show. I couldn't sleep nights. Stopped eating. Started boozing. Living on the street. It was only then, after hitting rock bottom, that I decided to go to the Sun-Times page and look them up.

  5. Russo,

    Austin Poly's scores are at rock bottom. But they've only got 1 year's worth of scores. Nothing to compare it with. No way to assess growth. The school, like all CPS neighborhood high schools, certainly has its work cut out for it. Keeping kids from dropping out. Off the streets. Not getting shot. Out of prison. I wish them the best. How about you?

  6. the segment about poly should have included the school's scores along with all the "gee, whiz, what a great idea" kind of stuff, and we all agree that it's pretty easy to find out.

  7. What a grumpy dude.


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