Education Policy & Practice

Archive for the ‘K-12’ Category

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I couldn’t “tweet in” last night, but EducationCEO was there.  Check out her reflection on her blog.  I am fascinated by the power of technology to bring a group of people together and discuss such a critical issue as Black Education.  If you missed it or just want to go back to it, check out the transcript below.

And a big thank you goes out to Twitter’s very own @journalproject for organizing the chat.


President Barack Obama talks with Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching winners in the State Dining of the White House January 6, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

First, let’s note the obvious in this photo and then move on — White women.  Where are the men?  Where are the men of color (Call Me Mister)? Where are the women of color?

Now, I understand why, as a nation, we are looking to strengthen our math and science intellectual capital.  I understand the relevance.  However, literacy has been eclipsed, and my fear is that such an unbalanced focus will actually serve to perpetuate the competency gap, particularly among white students and students of color.

I simply fail to recognize how high school students, for example, who are reading on a sixth-grade level will excel in science and mathematics.


My father graduated from the College of Charleston.  My mother attended Towson University (then Towson State University), but she didn’t complete her degree.  That makes me a second-generation college-goer. 

There was no question that my younger sibs and I were going to college.  It wasn’t drilled into our heads, but somehow, it was ingrained in us.  I don’t remember an explicit focus on “college readiness” (talking about college, college visits, early PSATs/SATs) in my K-8 years at St. Francis of Assisi.  But my sibs and I attended uber college prep high schools, and in that kind of environment, college was an expectation.

The one girl from my high school (that I can remember) who didn’t go to college has always stood out in my mind.  Unfortunately, for far too many students in our urban and rural public schools, college (or other postsecondary productivity, as I like to call it) is not a part of their psyche.

In my professional life in education research and evaluation, I’ve visited countless high schools across the country in such cities as Houston, Chicago, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Los Angeles, and Worcester, MA.  So much time and effort is put into establishing “college-going environments” and supporting and guiding high school students along that path.

There isn’t a consensus on when college readiness activities/efforts should begin.  Some say 9th grade, start as soon as they walk through the high school doors.  Some say earlier, and even some say 11th grade is a place to start.  I realize that college may not be for everyone, although, the more I think about what that means, the more I question why that belief is so widely accepted (especially given the shoddy k-12 education that is not uncommon in our poorest communities, but I digress).

I believe that a focus on college, academic excellence, discipline, perseverance, and continual improvement should be instilled in us from birth.  Yes, I realize that we’re all not going to get that.  As far as education goes, college should be an expectation from the first day of kindergarten.  So, by the time a student reaches upper middle school and high school, he/she won’t be shell-shocked when the counselor starts asking about college.  By then, that student has a pretty good sense of how “attainable” college is for him/her, which may be one of the most difficult challenges that counselor will face.

And sadly, minorities and low-income students are far too often deemed (at an early age) not to be college material. And so then does the self-fulfilling prophecy begin/continue.

Let’s remember, as vested members of our communities, to always engage students of all ages, in conversations about college, academic aspirations, and career goals.  Talk about your college experience with excitement and encourage young people to see themselves as college material.

The Brookings Institution’s report, “Invisible: 1.4 Percent Coverage for Education is Not Enough” brings to our attention the scant coverage of education in the national news and states that the lack of coverage of the actual work of schools remains a significant problem.

View the full report:

Vodpod videos no longer available.










The Wall Street Journal asked four policy makers to comment on four critical issues: health care, the economy and finance, energy and the environment, and an educated workforce. 

Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius spoke about health care; Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors, Christina Romer, made remarks about the economy and finance; Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change, Carol M. Browner, commented about energy and the environment.  Finally, Michelle Rhee, DC Public Schools Chancellor, added her take on an educated work force.  Rhee spoke about topics such as how to lead, firing employees, finances, spending, and vouchers and charter schools.

Athletes Highlight Education as Key to Their Success

Shane Battier of the Houston Rockets [and Duke Class of 2001] and Myron Rolle, former Florida State football player and current Rhodes Scholar, share their personal stories to encourage students to take responsibility for their education.

Shane Battier, a classmate of mine from Duke, has always been academically-focused.  Myron Rolle, chose to defer the NFL for one year to study medical anthropology at Oxford.

Two young, successful African American males.  It pleases me to see this story planted on the U.S. Department of Education website.  But I’m a 30 y/o education researcher/evaluator with nerd-like tendencies – of course I’m going to see that story because visiting is something that I do for fun.

Is my 9th-grade cousin, who is quite academically capable, but who has also announced his dream to aspire to become a professional athlete, going to see this?  Yes, in fact, he will!! He will because this blog post will be imported to my facebook page, and I will tag him in that note.

Great.  But he’s just one.  It is incumbent upon us [if you are reading this, then you are included in the “us” to which I am referring] to push these stories down to where the younger generation will be exposed to them.

I feel a surge of passion coming on here! I believe that the current generation of K-12 students must not be studied, talked about, or used as pawns, but rather they should be ENGAGED.   We need to bridge this gap.


Two giant philanthropic efforts have made news this month.  On November 4, 2009, the Ford Foundation announced that it will commit $100 million over 7 years toward “transforming secondary education in urban schools across the country.”  Today, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced that it will commit $335 million “to promote effective teaching and student achievement.”  Yes, that is a combined $435 million private investment in education and research in education.

The Ford Foundation plans to fund projects in 7 cities that address 4 essential elements: 1) sufficient and equitable school financing; 2) quality teaching; 3) additional and more useful learning time; and 4) meaningful accountability.  Among these districts are the some of the usual suspects, including New York City, Denver, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Chicago, Newark, and Detroit.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is funneling $290 million in grants to support 4 Intensive Partnership for Effective Teaching sites that have developed groundbreaking plans to improve teacher effectiveness, according to its press release.  Those sites include  Hillsborough County (Fla.) Public Schools, Memphis (Tenn.) City Schools, Pittsburgh (Pa.) Public Schools, and The College-Ready Promise, a coalition of five public charter school management organizations in Los Angeles.  Another $45 million will go toward the Measures of Effective Teaching project, a research initiative that seeks to define effective teaching and identify fairer and more reliable evaluative measures.

According to its website, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has invested $2 billion over 9 years in education reform efforts. I am pleased (quite pleased) to see the focus shift to teacher effectiveness investigation and to have resources committed to that end.

So I ask, what bang are we getting for these big bucks?

Other heavy-hitting foundations investing in urban education (past and present) include:


Education Policy & Practice

June 2019
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