The Year In Review: 2005 (Updated w/ Comments)

While I'm sure that USAT's Greg Toppo will do a better job than I will when his year in review piece comes out later this week (see below), I still thought that I'd join the end of year fray with some of my own nominees for biggest education stories. Feel free to agree, disagree, and -- especially encouraged -- suggest your own ideas.


Without further ado, here are my top education stories of 2005:

-- Intelligent Design Vs. the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. In terms of public attention, this is probably the story of the year. I just wish I could get myself to care.

-- The Gates Turnaround on Small Schools. After five years of pushing hard for small schools, the biggest and most active education foundation quietly -- and then loudly -- changed horses, pursuing a state and district reform strategy that they had previously avoided.

-- USDE's Strategic Retreat on NCLB. In ways small and not so small, the USDE steadily retreated on enforcing NCLB in 2005. The result? A mishmash of a law, with results that vary from year to year based on a rolling set of changes. But no major move to repeal the law.

-- Hurricane Vouchers. Katrina gave America an up-close look at pervasive urban poverty. The Congressional response gave voucher advocates an opening to push for more options for public school children.

-- Kozol and the PovRacers. The Kozol book, Shame of a Nation, rises to the top of the NYT bestseller lists and rains all over the notion that segregation is gone -- and that schools can be improved without reintegrating them.

-- Laptops, Blogs, Podcasts, Online Bullying, and Other High Tech Hype and Horrors. Last year, it was freak dancing and jelly bracelets. This year, it's all things Internet that are making some educators drool -- and freaking out others.

What did I miss?


Anonymous jerry bracey said...

When Greg contacted me, I told him I thought the ONLY story of the year was NCLB. Looking at my Rotten Apples so far, I might add l'affaire Armstrong Williams, something that I hadn't realized pissed off at least some blacks and gays (Williams is both, but has done a lot of gaybashing). And, as a continuing story, the appearance of reaction to The Charter School Dust-Up. Checker's response was particularly hypocritical.

10:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was it just me or were there lots of Female Teachers Arrested for Having Sex with Teen Boys this year? We always here about the Creepy Old Man educators preying on students, but there seemed to be more than their share of attractive, young-ish female teachers nabbed this year.

2:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Worldnetdaily puts the US takkky at at least 56 female teachers arrested this year for molesting their male students. And those are the ones that made headlines:


2:52 PM  
Blogger Caroline said...

Jonathan Kozol also rains all over the notion that military-school-style classrooms and rigidly scripted curricula are an effective way to teach disadvantaged students. That's a significant message in his book that has somehow been ignored (or maybe much of the commentary comes from people who haven't read the book?).

10:05 PM  
Anonymous checker finn said...

From Checker's Desk

Out with the old, in with the new

Over the past twelve months, eight happenings shaped the K-12 education story.

• Margaret Spellings elbowed Rod Paige aside at the Education Department and confounded just about everyone by transforming herself from NCLB's unbending enforcer into the Secretary of Flexibility. She's nobody's fool, and it was becoming obvious that states and districts were chafing under some of that statute's rigidities and dysfunctionalities. (Of course, some places just didn't want to change their ineffectual ways. Federal officials have trouble telling the difference.) (See here.)

• Though the Bush administration's high-school reform initiative was stillborn, Bill Gates's declaration that U.S. high schools are ''obsolete,'' combined with widespread dismay over the performance of those schools and with much non-federal ferment, managed to place high-school reform well up on the nation's education agenda. (The governors even agreed to agree on how to define graduation rates. And the Gates Foundation itself, learning from bitter experience, has rethought its initial emphasis on small high schools.)

• Hurricane Katrina wiped out New Orleans's schools, along with much else, and forced city and state to consider bold alternatives (namely, charter schools) to the Big Easy's disastrous old system (see here).

• Biologically evolved, but less than intelligent, members of the Kansas board of education declared war not only on evolution and natural selection, but on science itself (see here).

• John Walton's premature death extinguished America's single most influential player on the fields of school choice (but, to its immense credit, his family's foundation is keeping the faith). (See here.)

• Ohio joined the voucher ranks statewide--but cracked down hard on charters (see ''No voucher for you!'' below).

• State and local voters a) threw out the creationists on the Dover, Pennsylvania, school board (after they triggered a major federal case whose decision may reverberate for years to come) (see below), b) okayed Denver's modest attempt to pay teachers, in part, according to their performance (see here), and c) nixed the Gubernator's education reforms, not because they lacked merit, but because the teachers union was politically shrewder (see here).

• Way too many states began to finagle their standards, tests, cut-scores, and AYP calculations such that the achievement gains they claim to be making are not borne out by NAEP or any other external measure (see here).

11:51 AM  
Anonymous alexander for greg said...

greg toppo's fun roundup at USA Today includes some gems not included so far above, including a reminder of the armstrong williams fiasco, the spellings vs. PBS spat that started the year, and the Reading First investigation.

see it at: http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2005-12-28-katrina-schools_x.htm

there's also a sidebar on challenges facing colleges, and a piece about all the challenges to NCLB (and attempts to revamp it next year, prior to its official reauthorization period)

11:44 AM  

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