I've been on vacation for the last two weeks so haven't posted much. But I've seen (or been sent, sometimes by blog readers - thank you!) assorted articles on education that I believe will be of interest to my readers, so I'm posting a few links now. And don't worry -- as soon as the Bulletin goes on line (probably tomorrow), I'll post several articles/columns for reader reactions/discussions.
First, there is a really interesting article from the New York Times called "The Case for $320,000 Kindergarten Teachers" (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/28/business/economy/28leonhardt.html?_r=1&src=me&ref=general). Although the title may be facietious, the article makes the very wise point that teacher quality really matters in the early grades.
Second, I read an article (also in the New York Times) on a district that is doing a fabulous job of integrating kids with autism into regular classrooms (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/02/education/02winerip.html?_r=1&scp=20&sq=education&st=cse). I have no idea how this program compares with the program we have in the Amherst schools, but the experience described in this article certainly seems rewarding and beneficial for all kids.
Third, I found this OpEd on bullying to be very thought-provoking and timely, especially for districts in Western Mass (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/23/opinion/23engel.html?scp=5&sq=education%20engel&st=cse). Although districts, including our own, are under massive pressure to quickly pass anti-bullying policies, these authors make the important point that we need to think very carefully about what really works to prevent this type of behavior.
One final note: I have to assume that all readers of this blog, as well as the writer of this blog, are dedicated to ensuring the Amherst schools provide high quality education for all kids. We may disagree on the approach or methods used to enact improvements in our schools, or even on what improvements are needed, but I'd like us all to remember that people who are posting on this blog as well as the author of this blog are real people - with friends and family members who love them and care about them -- and that taking anonymously pot shots at me or other posters (anonymous or not) isn't constructive or helpful in any way. I'm willing and eager to discuss any and all education issues ... but I really don't want to facilitate name-calling and insults. Please submit posts using your own name if it all possible, and even if you choose not to use your name (for whatever reason), make sure to that you aren't writing something more negatively under the cloak of anonymity than you would write without this option. I allow anonymous posts to encourage broader participation in the dialogue -- NOT to allow mean-spirited remarks about me or others.
My Goal in Blogging
I started this blog in May of 2008, shortly after my election to the School Committee, because I believed it was very important to both provide the community with an opportunity to share their thoughts with me about our schools and to provide me with an opportunity for me to ask questions and share my thoughts and reasoning. I have found the conversation generated on my blog to be extremely helpful to me in learning community views on many issues. I appreciate the many people who have taken the time to share their views. I believe it is critical to the quality of our public schools to have a public discussion of our community priorities, concerns and aspirations.