News, schools, and views from a uniquely Lowell perspective

The end of public school as we know it…

It was too surreal: First thing I heard this morning is that Kansas City is closing half their public schools due to budget woes; a few hours later, I learned that Hawaii cut its school year short by 17 days to save money. All this is on top of news earlier in the week that a Rhode Island superintendent fired all 93 teachers and the principal of the high school.  At this point, twisting the above-mentioned R.E.M. song to make a point isn’t being overly dramatic, it’s too true. If the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), with its unreachable goal (100% at grade level by 2014), punitive approach to accountability, and lack of funding, was the beginning of the end of public schools, the recent economic crisis appears to be the final note.  For a national perspective on this issue, check out today’s NPR interview with Diane Ravitch, author and former assistant secretary of education under President Bush.  A NCLB supporter now converted, Ravitch argues that punishing schools under the mantra of accountability while pushing for privatizing our educational system is not good for kids, communities, or democracy. She claims her research shows that charter schools have not outperformed public schools.

 In Massachusetts, where our public schools enjoy national recognition as leaders in student achievement, our state Department of Elementary and Secondary Schools (DESE) has determined 35 failing schools (level  4) have not made adequate progress in student learning.  All 35 schools are from urban districts. (In Lowell, we have one, level 4 school, the Murkland, which will undergo various punitive/restructuring options such as described here in the Sun .)  As Joan Vennochi mentions in today’s Boston Globe, the problem with these supposedly bold reforms is their limited success in actually improving student learning. She cites Chicago’s Draconian measures as having mixed results and compares it to other cities whose students made greater gains without the turmoil.  According to Vennochi, the problem is more complex than redistributing students and staff: “How to improve learning in public schools, especially those located in poor, urban neighborhoods, is worthy of debate. The problem is that even the staunchest reform advocates can change their mind about what really works up against the cumulative effects of poverty.”  Perhaps the problems of poverty are just too hard to fix:  much easier to blame it on the schools.

posted in Education, In the News, NCLB | 0 Comments

Blog sickness cured

If you check this site regularly (thank you for that), you may have noticed many days without posts.  Although this does happen occasionally because living my life takes precedence over writing about it, the last few weeks featured a particularly long stretch of silence, and with reason. The first reason was that my blog was sick and it took me awhile to figure out it wasn’t my computer; the second reason was school vacation (as many of you know, kids can be so distracting), as well as other commitments and family concerns. Speaking of kids, it was actually a young LHS student entrepreneur who solved my blog crisis.

Nate Tenczar, a junior at LHS whose parents are former city councilor Attorney Dan Tenczar and Lisa Tenczar of DancEnergy, was the young tekky to solve my problem at last. Charging very reasonable rates, Nate Tenczar Computer Consulting, which can reached via ntenczar@gmail.com, discovered that “somehow malicious lines of code were injected into the header.php file of my blog, which caused the person viewing the blog to be redirected to an advertising website.” I confess to not understanding what exactly happened or how—something about my blog code being modified to send people off to random ad sites—what I do know was that it was incredibly aggravating to try to post during this period and that I wasted much time trying to figure out what was wrong with my computer when it was actually the blog. In any case, Nate resolved the issue; other than being annoying, it didn’t cause harm; and I’m now ready to get back to posting regularly. Please let me know if you notice anything weird in the future, and I highly recommend Nate as a source for your computer needs!

posted in Technical | 0 Comments

  • Blogroll

  • Contact Us

  • Education Links

  • Local Groups

  • Local media