Friday, October 27, 2006

Avalanche Warning

I just spent the last 15-hours in a place where we had one, along with a significant snow storm that delayed flights and such. So I'm playing catch-up on a whole bunch of stuff. Rapid fire:

-- At EdWize, Leo Casey has some very nice things to say about the quality of charter school authorizing in New York State and criticizes parts of Gov. Pataki's cap-lifting proposal from eons ago that would have allowed non-profit groups and the NYC Schools Chancellor to authorize charter schools. He writes that he hasn't met any charter school supporters who were really digging either change and notes that there hasn't been much vocal criticism of said plans from the charter world either. I hate to suggest that no one really took those provisions seriously, but... Just like all the hand-wringing about the financial impact on school districts from charters, this isn't the reason the charter cap wasn't lifted. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver didn't say the cap wasn't lifted because of these things, he said it wasn't lifted because some of his members wanted all charter schools to be unionized and wanted school boards and superintendents to be able to tell charter schools where they could and couldn't be located. You can blow smoke all you want, but those were the sticking points, not whether some non-profits are going to be allowed into the authorizing game.

To Leo's credit, he previously came out strongly against the Assembly Dem's teacher-voice-stifling plan to automatically unionize all charter schools.

-- Sara Mead, at the Quick and the Ed, brings up the bizarre case in Texas where the art teacher was canned for bringing her class to the Dallas Museum of Art, where they saw some nude statues. She notes that it is a reminder that teachers need protections against capricious firings. I won't argue with that, and I won't argue that teachers need protections from bad public school systems. Call me a benevolent-despot-loving freak if you want, but isn't this case also a reminder of the urgent need to create the kinds of schools where a teacher's talents will be appreciated as the crucial element to a school's success that they are? Some people look at these cases and wonder why we can't have better (or some at all) union representation. But can't you also look at it and wonder why we keep a lid on the number of schools where administrators actually value the educators who work with their kids?

-- Bonus thought on this Texas case: If you remember from the original story, it was prompted by a parent who complained after a kid came home from the trip and mentioned he saw some boobies or something. Listen: if there is any kid out there who needs to be looking at nude artwork, it is one whose parents would get the art teacher fired for arranging the field trip. Save the child: send him a Victoria's Secret catalog or something while there is still hope!

-- Jazz in charter schools. Nice little story on Brooklyn Charter School in New York's Hometown Newspaper. But charters have a lot of catching up to do in the jazz department. Didn't Thelonious Monk go to Stuyvesant?

-- Important higher-education prediction, pre-season style: The Marquette Warriors will finish second in the Big East this year in men's hoops. Book it, especially if your wife wears SLG's and went to Providence.

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