Klingbrief November 2011
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The Promise of For-Profit Education?

Elite Manhattan School Defies Old Preppy Cartel, by Amity Shlaes
Swedish For-Profit Chain to Run Charter School in N.Y.C., by Sarah D. Sparks

New York City has seen a rise in for-profit education in both the private and public sectors. Two schools new to the for-profit educational "cartel," as Amity Shlaes intriguingly labels this trend in Bloomburg Businessweek, gained press earlier this year. Innovate Manhattan Charter School, in association with Kunskapsskolan, a large for-profit school network in Sweden, promises an individualized "learning plan" for each student. Avenues: The World School, a private tuition-based model associated with EdisonLearning Incorporated, assures students will obtain "global preparedness." However, the place of for-profit corporations in United States' elementary and secondary institutions is yet to be determined. It will be interesting to monitor the actual "profits" that Kunskapsskolan and EdisonLearning Inc. yield over the coming years, as well as the implications for curriculum and organization that may influence widespread changes if proven effective. For now, Amity Shlaes and Sarah Sparks, of Education Week, seem encouraged. Note: Kunskapsskolan was the last organization to gain approval before the state changed its law to forbid for-profit management organizations to operate charter schools.

Nitya York, Ed.M Candidate, The Klingenstein Center
Teachers College, Columbia University, NY
Bloomberg Business Week, February 2011
Education Week, February 2011
Klingbrief is a free, monthly publication of recommended articles, books, research reports and media selected by and for independent school educators.  The Klingenstein Center for Independent School Leadership provides graduate programs and professional development for independent school educators throughout their careers. For information about submitting to Klingbrief, please click here.
November, 2011 VOL 25


Coordinating Editor, Associate Head of the Brearley School, New York, NY

Klingenstein Center Director, New York, NY

Head of the Park School of Buffalo, NY

Assistant Head, Albuquerque Academy, Albuquerque, NM

Principal, The Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study, University of Toronto, Canada

Principal, Bruce A. Shaw Consulting, LLC     Essex, MA        

Head of Lick-Wilmerding High School,
San Francisco, CA

Communications Manager, Klingenstein Center, New York, NY

Assistant Head, Upper School
Montclair Kimberley Academy, Montclair, NJ

NotYourFather Benchmark by Blog
Blog: Not Your Father's School, by Peter Gow
"11 Things Independent Schools Should be Thinking About"

According to his Blog, "Not Your Father's School," Peter Gow has worked in independent schools since 1974 and, according to him, has been writing about them seriously since 2001. Always prolific, he gained tremendous momentum when he discovered the idea for a series of posts organized around the concept of "11 Things Independent Schools Must Be Thinking About." Included in the list are cutting edge items - social media, design thinking, online learning - and old warhorses recast - strategic thinking, professional development, libraries. That not everyone will agree with Gow's list is part of its value, if not its charm. Would your administrative team agree? Is someone in your school becoming fluent in each issue? Are you in a position to make measured decisions instead of simply reacting to trends? A thoughtful educator with a long perspective, Gow has curated a resource-rich agenda worth noting and ignored at great risk. In the process, he has also modeled a path forward for ed-bloggers who sometimes favor brevity or timeliness over synthesis and deep relevance.

The blog can be found here:

Stephen J. Valentine, Montclair Kimberley Academy, NJ
Blog: Not Your Father's School, October 13, 2011
WhyScienceMajors The Dilemma in Preparing STEM Students for Success in Higher Education
Why Science Majors Change Their Minds (It's Just So Darn Hard), by Christopher Drew

AAU Stem Education Initiative

Studies generally find U.S. students behind those of other countries in the all-important STEM subjects. A new study reported in the New York Times makes yet another discovery: students who enter college as STEM majors drop out at much higher rates than those planning to concentrate in other subjects. The startling numbers - 40% to 60% of the total commencing college as a STEM subject major, including pre-med students - climb even higher in the most selective colleges and universities, places where independent schools send many of their graduates. The American Association of Universities (AAU) recently announced a five-year, wide-ranging effort to create change at the university level. The implications for independent schools are challenging. Many have appropriately introduced more appealing teaching methods in math and the sciences. However much these methods generate STEM interest, pre-collegiate training doesn't seem to be answering a central question: how can schools best prepare potential STEM majors to be successful in higher education, and to what extent do independent schools share this problem?

Bruce Shaw, Trustee, Glen Urquhart School, Bruce A. Shaw Consulting LLC, MA
New York Times, November 4, 2011
Association of American Universities, September 14, 2011
GotHour How Adjustment and Belonging Relate to Performance
Got an Hour? Boost Your Grades. Stanford Psychologists Design 60-minute Exercise that Raises GPAs of Minority Students, by Adam Gorlick

In this short review of Greg Walton's study of Stanford freshmen, the author synthesizes a report about addressing feelings of belonging with black freshmen at Stanford as a way to build their resilience and success at the institution. As stated, "when black freshmen participated in an hour-long exercise designed by Stanford psychologists to show that everyone - no matter what their race or ethnicity- has a tough time adjusting to college right away, their grades went up and the minority achievement gap shrank 52 percent." The article goes on to cite some stunning statistics that compare the performance of those students who participated in the workshop with those students in a control group that did not participate in the workshops. The study is extremely relevant to independent schools, especially as we design programs to help more diverse students acculturate to our schools. By addressing the challenges of belonging with everyone, and not only with students seen as at risk in our schools, we immediately send a message that everyone, regardless of background, actually shares similar experiences in adjusting to schools.

Eric Temple, Lick-Wilmerding High School, CA
Stanford Education News, March 2011
FinlandSchools No Particular Child Left Behind
Why are Finland's Schools Successful? by LynNell Hancock

This concise article by LynNell Hancock provides an historical context for and the contributing factors to Finland's successful public school system, a system that has been celebrated recently because of Finland's incredible showing on international tests in reading, science, and mathematics. Hancock debunks some of the myths used by critics to discount Finland's model (e.g., that they have a homogenous population of students or that they don't have to worry about non-native speakers). Some of the key driving factors in the Finnish system, which might seem counterintuitive to American ways of thinking, include paying teachers at rates commensurate with doctors, making entrance into teaching preparation programs extremely competitive, starting compulsory schooling at age seven for all children, spending 30% less per student than in the United States, and relying very minimally on standardized testing to ensure accountability. Even more striking are the attitudes of Finnish teachers, which seem to boil down to their willingness to do "whatever it takes" to ensure that a particular child is not left behind.

Stephanie Lipkowitz, Albuquerque Academy, NM
Smithsonian Magazine, September 2011
CaseAgainstGrades A Familiar and Intrepid Warrior Re-states his Case
The Case Against Grades, by Alfie Kohn

Alfie Kohn posits an answer to the question, "Is this going to be on the test?" by arguing that we should just get rid of the test. Kohn's article is a re-examination of opinions and research he has been gathering for a decade as a rebuttal to his longstanding critics. It is bracing to follow his thinking about grading and imagine how our schools would be different if his premise were widely adopted. Kohn makes it clear that, from his point of view, grades have a negative impact on student learning, diminishing students' interest in what they're learning, orienting them toward accumulating marks rather than acquiring knowledge. He details how grades create a preference for the easiest possible task because if the goal is to get a good mark, then taking intellectual risks, making mistakes in the process of inquiry, and striving for depth may be jettisoned in favor of the shortest and surest route to the best mark. He gets specific about why students are underserved by a culture of grading and exactly how teachers can make assessment meaningful, growth-oriented and individual. In Kohn's real world, students don't need stars, A's, or incentive plans to become and remain engaged, lively, committed and successful learners. In Kohn's world, knowledge matters more than marks.

Elizabeth Morley, Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study Laboratory School
University of Toronto, Toronto
Educational Leadership, November 2011
ChangingStudentsLife A Newer Challenge to Math Tracking
Changing Students' Lives Through the De-Tracking of Urban Mathematics Classrooms, by Jo Boaler

In Jo Boaler's summary commentary of the benefits of de-tracking mathematics classrooms in urban schools, the author reminds us of the important teaching methodologies and student outcomes that speak to many of the values of independent school education. In particular, de-tracking middle school math classrooms enables more students in those rooms to take higher level math classes and have higher achievement. De-tracking in these schools has also allowed all students to make important contributions in the classroom, instead of only those who feel empowered to do so. Furthermore, de-tracked classrooms help students to respect difference, deepen their own knowledge by having to teach others, and view new challenges as an opportunity for growth. Though tracking of math is deeply ingrained in independent school cultures, Boaler challenges us to think about mathematics achievement in new ways.

Eric Temple, Lick-Wilmerding High School, CA
Journal of Urban Mathematics Education, July 2011, Vol.4, No 1, pp7-14
Teens New Insights into Teen Internet Habits
Teens, Kindness and Cruelty on Social Network Sites, by Amanda Lenhart, Madden, Aaron Smith, Kristen Purcell, Kathryn Zickuhr, Lee Rainie

In this report on a large survey done by Pew Internet, the internet and social networking arm of Pew research, we are offered some useful and vibrant statistics on how teens use the internet for social networking purposes: the impact on teen users, the responses of parents, and the contrast/comparison between how adults and teenagers use the internet. Since all educators live in the world of digital citizenship, and since we increasingly recognize that this world is interwoven with how our students learn and function day to day, such analyses are helpful as a kind of benchmark. Some will find the statistics and connected deductions predictable, while others (with the patience to persevere) will find some surprises that disconfirm former assumptions.

Peter Herzberg, The Brearley School, NY
Pew Internet, Pew Research Center, November, 2011
  Universal Rights for Disadvantaged Students
Sacred Trust: A Children's Education Bill of Rights, by Peter W. Cookson, Jr.

The continuing achievement gap in American education is fueled by many factors outside the purview of schools. In his most recent book, Peter Cookson, Jr. proposes a universal student "Bill of Rights" that would help schools optimize the performance of students from marginalized backgrounds despite these factors. In Sacred Trust, Cookson Jr. brilliantly weaves anecdotal stories with interviews and statistics to describe the conditions under which students in poverty live and the effects those circumstances have on their learning outcomes. While his proposed "Bill of Rights" seeks to level the playing field for disadvantaged students, these universal rights provide for the holistic education of all children. Sacred Trust intends to "provoke a national conversation and a call to constructive action," among all stakeholders in the education landscape regarding the inequities students face when they enter the classroom, and the steps schools must take to lessen the impact of those inequities on student learning.

Javier Piggee, Ed.M Candidate, The Klingenstein Center
Teachers College, Columbia University, NY
The Windward School, NY
Corwin, 2011
  Proficiency for the Mathematically Tenuous
Achieving Fluency: Special Education and Mathematics, by Skip Fennell

How many of us have entered into a teacher's work room and heard a small group of mathematics teachers voicing their frustrations: "My students don't know their facts!" Another fourth grade teacher responds by stating, "I worked with one student yesterday and she understood how to multiply 2-digit numbers, but today, she acts as though she has never seen it." Statements like these are common in K- 8 schools. Achieving Fluency: Special Education and Mathematics, a research based resource, provides support and answers to the above concerns and stimulates the reader's thinking about best practices. While focusing on effective strategies for work with special needs students, the practical suggestions on approaches, testing strategies, and diagnosing errors hold true for all learners. Achieving Fluency: Special Education and Mathematics deserves to become a handbook for all who are interested in helping students become mathematically proficient.

Kit Norris
Equity and Excellence- PLC Consulting Group, MA
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 2011

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