Tuesday, March 20 – New ideas: Year-round calendars and magnet schools

  1. Jodie Morse, et al. “Summertime and School Isn’t Easy.” Time. 31 July 2000: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,997589,00.html.
  2. M. Alex Johnson. “Year-round school gains ground around U.S.” MSNBC: 27 Oct. 2010: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39748458/ns/us_news-life/t/year-round-school-gains-ground-around-us/#.Tt6vp3HCqHk.
  3. Heather Mac Donald. “How Gotham’s Elite High School’s Escaped the Leveller’s Ax.” City Journal, Spring 1999: http://www.city-journal.org/html/9_2_how_gothams_elite.html.
  4. Browse through the stories in “Learning Outside the Lines: Home Schooling in Kansas”: http://www2.ljworld.com/news/education/home_schooling/learning_outside_the_lines/.
  5. “Changing school calendar merits thought, but needs study” (press release). IU News Room, 14 May 2007: http://newsinfo.iu.edu/news/page/normal/5650.html.

In class:

GUEST SPEAKER: Terry Spradlin, associate director for education policy at IU’s Center for Evaluation and Education Policy, will talk to the class about research he has published about year-round schools. He will speak for about 45 minutes.

Then, students will discuss the ideas presented in the readings and the information they received from the guest speaker. Based on what they’ve learned about student performance and other reform ideas, what issues do they see with these ideas that perhaps aren’t being reported? Are the ideas fair to everyone and indiscriminate?

At the end of class, students will spend about five minutes writing a short blog post reflecting on the reform ideas we’ve discussed today.

Thursday, March 22 – Teachers’ unions

Required reading:

You’ll read parts 1 and 3 of a Voice of San Diego reporting project, as well as an Indianapolis Star account of negotiations between the state and Indiana’s largest teacher’s union, which all show the challenges teachers’ unions can create. The NPR and EducationNext pieces show both sides. As you read, please think about how these sorts of issues are relevant to the schools you cover.

  1. Emily Alpert. “The Teacher Whom Nobody Chose.” VoiceofSanDiego.org. 13 Dec. 2009: http://www.voiceofsandiego.org/education/article_a0afe6e4-e839-11de-b3d7-001cc4c03286.html.
  2. Emily Alpert. “A Free Market for Teachers.” VoiceofSanDiego.org 15 Dec. 2009: http://www.voiceofsandiego.org/education/article_d39782e8-e9be-11de-81a1-001cc4c03286.html.
  3. Listen to (or read transcript): Neal Conan. “The Role of Teachers’ Unions in Education.” NPR. 19 Oct. 2010: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130675529.
  4. Matthew Tully. “A state takeover of Manual?” The Indianapolis Star. 28 March 2010: A1. (A PDF is available on OnCourse.)
  5. Richard D. Kahlenberg and Jay P. Greene. “Unions and the Public Interest.” EducationNext, 12. 1: http://educationnext.org/unions-and-the-public-interest.

In class:

We will again use the opinion exercise we employed with the L.A. Times and Chicago Tribune cases.

At the beginning of class, we will clear all the desks out of the middle of the room to make room for an activity. All the students will gather in the middle of the room, and I will read opinion statements pertaining to the case they were assigned to read. One side of the room will be designated as “completely agree.” The other side of the room will be designated “completely disagree,” and the invisible line between the two sides will be a continuum. If a student completely agrees with the statement, she will stand at the wall designated “completely agree.” If a student somewhat agrees with the statement, he will stand somewhere between that wall and the center of the room. If a student is undecided, she will stand in the center between the two walls. Statements will address both the media’s coverage of unions and opinions on teachers’ unions themselves. Two sample statements could be “The Voice of San Diego pieces fairly portrayed everyone involved in the debate” and “Teachers’ unions are too powerful.”

After students have assembled themselves according to their opinions, I will ask individual students why they took the positions they did. We will do this activity for about 15 minutes.

Next, I will give a short lecture on the arguments for and against today’s teachers’ unions.

Then, I will ask students to share perspectives based on their beat reporting from this class. How have they witnessed these issues in those school districts? Based on what they’ve seen, does the coverage we read seem fair?

We will then take some time to talk about the final story requirements and their ideas since the proposal is due next class.

Finally, students will spend about five minutes blogging about their reflections on today’s activities at the end of class.


You must bring the final draft of your budget story to class. Make sure a version is posted to the website before class begins and tweet a link to the post.