Friday, November 09, 2007

Not Again

If you were around in 1974 or if you've read James Moffett's Storm in the Mountains, , Kanawha County, West Virginia will ring a bell. From Teacher Magazine:

W. Va. Book Ban Intensifies

The Kanawha County Board of Education wants a closer look at a possible rating system for school reading materials, a suggestion that was brought up after parents objected to graphic violence in two Pat Conroy books.

"Beach Music" and "The Prince of Tides" were suspended from two English classes at Nitro High School earlier this fall. Committees were formed to read each book separately and make recommendations to the board.

The first committee that read "Beach Music" voted to allow the book and its discussions back into the system, but the board did not act on the recommendation Monday.

Instead, board member Bill Raglin asked that county guidelines on reading materials, including suggestions about alternative reading choices and the book rating system, be formally written into county policy "so that we don't have to go through this five or six years from now," he said.

To the dismay of both book opponents and Nitro teachers and students who anticipated a victory, Judy Gillian, the language arts curriculum specialist for Kanawha County schools, was told to report back to the board on Dec. 13 after the proposed language was written.

Parents suggested the rating system after the books were suspended. It would include every language arts book a teacher uses and involve advisory labels placed on books that show content for violence, language, sexual content or adult situations, Gillian said.

"This is not the movie industry," said Nitro teacher Steve Shamblin. "You can tell what's in a book by opening a book and reading it."

Read the rest here.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

CEE Member in the News

I finally got around to reading the recent article about Teach for America in the online magazine Slate and was pleased to see CEE member Deborah Appleman quoted at some length:
Deborah Appleman, the chairwoman of education studies at Carleton College, shadowed a former student of hers through the summer training of TFA's first class in 1990. She came away disappointed and has been been a persistent critic ever since. She discourages her students from applying and refuses to write letters of recommendation for them.
Critics like Appleman . . . say that TFA's premise—that corps members can succeed without substantial training in the classroom—is "insulting" to professionally trained teachers. Without such training, she's convinced, TFA teachers often disserve their students, and themselves, because their struggles discourage them from staying in teaching. Too high a share (30 percent that first year, 12 percent on average overall) leave before completing their two-year commitment, Appleman argues.
You might also want to take a look at Barnett Berry's blog post at District Administrator in which he does the math:
Lincoln Caplan, who penned the Slate exposé of TFA, reports that over 15 years the non-profit has spent $500 million (30 percent from the government) to recruit a few thousand teachers who will remain in the classroom no more than two years. (Caplan’s investigation reveals that over a decade and a half about 8,000 TFA recruits remain in education, with no more than one-half actually teaching children.) It has been difficult to get the accurate numbers on TFA, but it looks like Caplan's research would signify that TFA is spending about $125,000 per teacher!