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.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Assorted Interesting Education Articles

I've read (and received from blog readers - thanks!) a number of articles on education that are very interesting -- and, in some cases, have clear implications for Amherst. I've posted links to all of these, so you can click on any of these to read the whole piece.

First, here's another piece (from the New York Times) on the efforts to evaluate teachers ( This is clearly a key topic that many districts are facing, and I look forward to hearing more about the pros/cons ... and seeing the results in districts that have attempted to use this model (which is certainly being pushed by Arne Duncan/Obama).

Second, here's an article from the Boston Globe on "what makes a great school" ( I found this piece really interesting because it focused on the relative lack of importance of money -- and instead on the benefits of good teaching and a rigorous curriculum!

Third, there was an interesting article on race differences in suspension rates, a topic which the RADAR group at ARHS has discussed for many years ( This article reported that in middle schools, black boys and girls are suspended at a much higher rate than white students, which is similar to the data that RADAR has shown from ARHS. I would be interested in seeing similar data as a function of student income (e.g., are these races differences really a reflection of class differences?), and I'd also be interested in learning about strategies used by districts in which such disparities don't exist.

Finally, the New York Times published a fascinating blog piece on the link between exercise and cognitive performance ( This article describes a number of very interesting studies showing not only that physical fitness is associated with cognitive abilities, but also why this association might exist.

One final note: tonight's SC meeting will take place in the high school library at 7 pm and will NOT be shown live on ACTV. I'll do a brief blog post after the meeting to catch people up on the major decisions -- which should include hiring a lawyer (or two) to represent the district and choosing a search firm to help with the superintendent search.

1 comment:

Ed said...

Facts matter -- and while more black boys than white boys are suspended, more boys than girls are suspended, MORE WHITE BOYS ARE SUSPENDED THAN BLACK GIRLS are suspended.

Now there are three related issues to this -- first, IS there a difference in behavior -- are these suspensions all justified? Unless we are willing to accept a gender bias against males, how can we accept a race bias against black males?

Now, I *am* willing to accept a gender bias which very few others in the education profession are. And hence, I will concurrently accept a possible racial bias, but only in the same context, that both are incidental to a profession that is run by, and largely staffed by, white upper-middle-class women.

Remember that the Median FAMILY Income in Massachusetts is $53,315 for a single person, $69,204 for two people, $82,297 for three people, and $99,293 for a family of four. (Median is half make more and half make less and this is for the entire *family*!

And what is the family income of a two-teacher family, when both have advanced degrees and have been there for a while? Enough said?

And the black male student living in Southpoint with the single mother (or grandmother) who is at 20% of the poverty rate ($10,830 for a single person, $14,570 for two people, $18,310 for three people, and $22,050 for a family of four) -- why might he not relate?

And third, why would black males have trouble in school? Or, conversely, why would