Relevant news articles

I have been stumbling on what I would term as interesting and relevant articles, both from the News-Gazette, Anthony Cody’s blog “Living in Dialogue” and even a techy news aggregator (slashdot).

Yes, Virginia, There Really IS a Billionaire Boys Club: This is Cody’s blog post. I like how he references a couple different view points, from Diane Ravitch to Alexander Russo (just to name two). Is big money really steering the course of education? Mr. Cody is no friend of the Gate’s Foundation take on Education nor the influence it is exerting upon policy-making. One of my take-aways (which will resurface again shortly) is that the common people are removed from the political process because they simply don’t talk the jargon. One wonders if all the money used for funding races was diverted to, well, education. Or what about re-writing the laws so we can at least understand them?

Three largest area districts spent $936,000 on legal bills: Speaking of money and legalese. Almost $1 million of money funneled into schools from our hard-earned taxes for 1 year of lawyers – this comes out of the same pot used to pay teachers. Wow. Is it just me or is there something wrong with this picture? Meg responds to one commenter by spelling out the legal fees are “spent addressing topics like general school law, real estate matters, expulsions, tax objections, personnel matters, special education and student matters.” Our laws are so complicated that we need subject-matter experts to interpret and argue on our behalf, instead of paying teachers. Fun stuff.

Khan Academy Lead Developer Ben Kamens Answers Your Questions: Mr. Kamens takes us on a brief but intriguing tour under the covers of Khan Academy. The folks asking questions pose some good ones, and Kamens comes right back and tells it like it is. There are some really good back and forths about pedagogy, “proof” of education (aka, accreditation), and using technology as a tool for an educational platform. I can see this evolving into a game-changer. I think the important part is that not everyone learns the same way (ie, no silver bullets), and Kamens address this to a degree, but I am very curious to see how this might play out in Champaign. I know of at least two area parents that have already looked at Khan Academy – I am sure there are others.

Vote set on new wireless network in Champaign schools: So it is appropriate that we end on Meg Dickinson’s NG article from this morning. Like Dave Hohman’s response to my question about the money being spent on wireless technology, Meg quotes Mr. Hohman a fair amount to further explain what the district is doing in terms of modernizing technology. As one who has been pestering the former administration about updating their technology, the recent news (including the new drupal website) is a relative explosion of activity. It is pretty amazing just for that. Of course, I believe we still need to be concerned about how money is spent. While I am glad they found a way to bring the cost down from the initial $2.3 million, we still have to weigh our needs. This is challenging because there are those of us that think this wireless technology is fun and cool. But we are talking about tax-payer dollars. We are talking about teacher salaries (I know, different bucket in the budget, still the same to naive me). I realize we bear the burden of yet another unfunded mandate to transition test-taking to online platforms. Having said that, I find it ironic that we spent a bunch of money on a slew of netbooks and assorted equipment, and now we are using their mere existence as justification for a network infrastructure that enables them. Horse and cart analogies anyone? 🙂

and a bonus track….

Melissa Merli’s Art Beat: Comic pays tribute to a major voice for equality: For those that missed the whole Consent Decree or would appreciate a fresh look through a historical lens, I encourage you to check out this gentleman’s artistic work. The article starts off with:

“The late John Lee Johnson was an uncompromising civil rights activist who could at times be a pain in the you know what.

But we needed someone like him to keep us honest and to move us forward in the area of racial equality.”

Your thoughts and comments are welcome.

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