Sunday, September 03, 2006

The Week's Recommended Reading #17

From Ash:

With these two weeks marking a return to school of most children, this week's reading could have been all education all the time, but there are a few other things of interest as well.

Census on Economic Growth

The New York Times has a don't miss editorial/analysis on the new Census data regarding economic growth – on how the numbers look good only because well-off seniors are included. But for the rest of us . . . .


While teachers are busying buying school supplies with their own money, a lot of news outlets covered the release of the (declining) SAT scores. But only a few mentioned that the scores' decline that was about half-a question different a result than last year. The New York Times had two pretty good pieces – one on the scores themselves, and one on how smaller colleges are bypassing the SAT altogether.

But, for my money, the Time piece, exploring the contents of the exam, was the best coverage on the SAT that I saw this week. I love the rare reporter who can admit when he's been wrong in the past – which John Cloud does, as he evaluates the accuracy of his and others' predictions of the new SAT test results.

Another piece of the note again comes from the New York Times, on the rise of remedial education in colleges. I wish it had even been harder hitting – as to why is this happening and is it acceptable – but on the whole, I was happy to see this, because I just don't think it's focused enough. The headline makes it seem more like its focus is exclusively on community colleges, but the piece is broader than that. (Note to California readers: the writer didn't quite get the patois of our state schools down, so you might be confused (I was) by the use of the phrase, "California State." By that, the author's referring to the Cal State University system.)

What's interesting is that, to me, remedial learning is arguably turning the freshman year of college into a 5th year of high school, which means you only get 3-years of higher learning. Chicago's Mayor Daley has actually proposed adding a 5th year of high school – but his motivation is cost-saving and because the kids are doing advanced work in school, instead of the remedial need that I'd argue for.

Meanwhile, parts of Russia have just made it law that students must study Orthodox Christianity in school.

Children (More)

If your concerns about your children are more of a social kind, then you might be interested in this AP report on how one school district is offering free home drug tests to its parents.

BBC reported on British Prime Minister Tony Blair's statement that the UK needs to identify the children who will grow up to be "menaces" . . . before birth. Meaning identifying mothers and fathers who live in high risk environments / have a history of violence, etc., and requiring them to get help before the baby's even born. Not surprisingly, there's a lot of controversy over this.

If that seems a little remote to you, consider this report that teens aren't getting required immunizations. Everyone thinks kids are done when they're young, but they aren't anymore.

The heart-rending story of the week comes from the Los Angeles Times, reporting on how children in Congo are labeled as witches and cast out onto the streets.

Al Gore In the UK – Your Media Analysis Lesson of the Week

I'm not including this for political reasons, and I'm not doing this because I'm a Gore alumna. Instead, if you've got a couple minutes, compare the American AP coverage of Gore remarks in the UK, with the coverage done by the BBC. The AP coverage focuses on how media consolidation is a threat to the health of our democracy.

But the BBC coverage hammers home Gore's criticism of American television watching – how politicians have to sell their souls to get crummy commercials on the air, because that's the only way to get Americans to pay attention.

Both pieces are probably accurate reflections of Gore's remarks, but the AP sort of lets you off the hook, because the problem's too big for you. But you'll walk away from the BBC piece feeling that democracy is at risk – and that you have a direct responsibility in that.

But Wait! There's More!

An obituary / appreciation for the advertising copywriter who gave the world Ginsu knives.


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