Education Week - October 24, 2012 - (Page 10)

10 EDUCATION WEEK n OCTOBER 24, 2012 n BLOGS of the WEEK | NEWS | Rules for Engagement Group Pushes Schools To Nix ‘Mix It Up’ Day Hundreds of schools reacted to accusations that the annual Mix It Up at Lunch Day is part of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “nationwide push to promote the homosexual lifestyle in public schools.” Many quickly dropped their association with the event designed to promote tolerance, while others decided to sign on. The characterization of the event, lobbed at the Montgomery, Ala.-based splc by the conservative American Family Association, takes aim at an 11-year-old program designed to “break down the walls between groups of kids,” said Maureen Costello, the director of the splc’s Teaching Tolerance arm. The afa, based in Tupelo, Miss., posted messages on its website and sent emails about the event earlier this month, calling the splc a “homosexual activist group.” The email claimed the splc had listed schools on a map of Mix It Up participants without their authorization. “ ‘Mix It Up’ day is an entry-level ‘diversity’ program designed specifically by splc to establish the acceptance of homosexuality into public schools,” the group’s message said. About the same number of schools, 2,500 nationwide, plan to officially take part in the Oct. 30 event as before. The Mix It Up event was created after teacher Beverly Daniel Tatum’s book Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? was published in 1997. The 40-year-old Southern Poverty Law Center works to combat hate and bigotry. It has named the American Family Association a “hate group” for its anti-gay ideology. —NIRVI SHAH | NEWS | Curriculum Matters Film Looks at Texas School Board Strife K-12 education policy and politics have seen a surge in the cinema of late, what with “Won’t Back Down” about a “parent trigger” law for school interventions, “Waiting for ‘Superman,’ ” and “The Lottery.” Enter “The Revisionaries,” a new documentary film by Scott Thurman that chronicles the hotly contested development of recent state standards for science and history/social studies by the Texas board of education. The star of the show is Don McLeroy, a staunch conservative and former board chairman (and a dentist). McLeroy lost his bid for reelection in 2010, in a primary contest to moderate Republican Thomas Ratliff. Thurman isn’t a fan of McLeroy’s politics or worldview, but he ended up with a fairly sympathetic portrayal of the man. According to the Houston Chronicle’s Texas Politics blog, both McLeroy and liberal documentary filmmaker Michael Moore liked the movie. That in and of itself is a pretty remarkable accomplishment. —ERIK W. ROBELEN | NEWS | Teacher Beat ADVERTISEMENT IS IT GOOD FOR THE KIDS? Students Recruited For Ed. School Review As its contested project to review all 1,400 schools of education continues, the National Council on Teacher Quality is appealing to a new party for help: university students. The group unveiled a new ad campaign last week that will offer stipends to college students who agree to provide the materials the council is examining for its review, including course syllabi and student-teaching manuals. Using graphics that could have been pulled right out of “Mad Men,” the campaign shows a silhouette of an individual wielding a flashlight. “You have the right to know,” one advertisement reads. “Help us do what your university would not.” The teacher-prep community has been highly critical of the project, alleging that the review is biased or methodologically flawed. Other programs have asserted that they meet state standards or have fulfilled national accreditation. The nctq alleges that colleges of education have been throwing up roadblocks, such as charging high fees for the materials, forcing the council to use freedom-of-information requests, or claiming materials are intellectual property. Folks in higher education generally argue that they should not be coerced into participating. The review is due out next spring. —STEPHEN SAWCHUK Education Rises Above the Election Fray By Gene R. Carter, Executive Director, ASCD The 2012 presidential election is less than two weeks away, and I am relieved—even thankful—that education has not been a central campaign issue for the candidates. This may seem like a surprising statement coming from a former teacher, administrator, and district superintendent and the current leader of an international education association. But I strongly believe that education’s lack of prominence on the campaign trail is, counterintuitively, a positive development for those of us who work in education. Many of us remember “Ed in ’08,” the $25 million campaign backed by the Gates and Broad Foundations that had the goal of making education central in the 2008 presidential election. Even with those significant resources, arguably all the Ed in ’08 effort managed was a single question about education in the final 2008 presidential debate. History tells us, however, that education’s lack of attention in that presidential campaign didn’t adversely affect the nation’s support for education reform efforts in subsequent years. In fact, education funding was a centerpiece of the economic stimulus package enacted just a few months after the election, and the Race to the Top grant competition has been the most-talked-about federal education reform initiative since the No Child Left Behind Act. Education pundits often lament education’s relative absence from the presidential race as a signal that it isn’t an issue of national importance. I disagree. Just because President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney aren’t arguing about education doesn’t mean either of them feels it is unimportant. They have both underscored how crucial a highquality education is to individual success and to the nation’s economic prosperity and competitiveness in the global marketplace. Furthermore, with the federal government contributing only 8 percent of school revenue, education remains primarily a state and local responsibility. Ultimately, education will remain an issue of national importance as long as the public believes that it is, not because presidential candidates and their strategists choose to make it a wedge issue. According to the 2012 PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools, 89 percent of Americans believe closing the achievement gap is important and virtually all Americans believe it’s important to improve the nation’s urban schools. No president is going to ignore a topic deemed essential by the vast majority of the nation’s public just because it wasn’t a campaign issue. The fact that education hasn’t been a key focus this election season keeps it above the mudslinging, finger pointing, partisan rhetoric, fact bending, and scare tactics that are the unfortunate hallmarks of modern political campaigns. That’s encouraging because the complex issues of education reform and school improvement don’t lend themselves to pithy sound bites and 30-second commercials anyway. It also means that President Obama and Governor Romney were able to agree during their first presidential debate that funding for education is an investment in the nation’s future, reinforcing education’s value to voters instead of subjecting them to a constant—and inaccurate—drumbeat about how bad schools are, how the nation’s education system is broken, and how educators are failing students. Make no mistake, the candidates, and their respective parties, are dramatically at odds on plenty of education details; it is important for the public to understand how the divergent education policy approaches could affect the nation’s students, communities, and education professionals in the coming years. That’s why the inaugural issue of our new ASCD Policy Points publication—a regular resource that will spotlight timely education policy issues—outlines the candidates’ views on specific education issues. But their differences can be thoroughly and thoughtfully analyzed away from the glib and superficial chatter that passes for campaigning and press coverage, while their similarities can serve as important building blocks for those federal lawmakers who are elected on November 6 to make long-overdue fixes to the No Child Left Behind Act. So rather than lament that education hasn’t been a major campaign issue this election season, let’s share the larger goal of encouraging November’s winner to use his bully pulpit to build widespread support for public education and to demand that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in districts, states, and the nation’s capital work together to improve our nation’s schools. >> To see all Education Week blogs, go to Your Education Week subscription includes full access to Content includes 30-plus years of Education Week archives and special reports, daily news roundups, and multimedia features. TO CLAIM ACCESS, go to and enter the claim code found on your mailing label. (One claim per paid subscriber.) Go to to read the first issue of ASCD Policy Points and sign up for Capitol Connection, ASCD’s weekly education policy e-newsletter, at 1703 North Beauregard St. • Alexandria, VA 22311-1714 USA • Web: 1-800-933-ASCD (2723) or 1-703-578-9600 • Fax: 1-703-575-5400 • E-mail:

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - October 24, 2012

Education Week - October 24, 2012
‘Smart Pills’ Promising, Problematic
At S.C. School, Behavior Is One of the Basics
Obama Finding Teacher Support Secure, if Tepid
Focus On: Curriculum: Calif. Laws Shift Gears on Algebra, Textbooks
Table of Contents
News in Brief
Report Roundup
‘Value Added’ Use at Secondary Level Questioned
National Board Seeks to Revive Impact on Profession
Industry & Innovation
Blogs of the Week
Debates Push Fate of NCLB Waivers to Fore
Policy Menu Varies in State School Board Elections
Policy Brief
The Election: Debating Education
Genevieve LaFleur & Scott Poland: Schools Can Be the Difference in Preventing Suicide
Kenneth Wesson: From STEM to ST2REAM: Reassembling Our Disaggregated Curriculum
Top School Jobs Recruitment Marketplace
Erica Frankenberg & Gary Orfield: Diversity or Resegregation? Why Suburban Schools Need a Plan

Education Week - October 24, 2012