One thing I left out of my story about calculus at Crawford High is that every now and then, Jonathan Winn sings. (The song is addressed to his classroom volunteer, Becky Breedlove, who is nicknamed B squared.) That and other, somewhat less musical tidbits in your daily newsblitz:

  • It’s a calculus class so crazy, it just might work. Seventy-odd teens are packing an early morning class at Crawford High to learn calculus with a guy who resembles Jim Carrey with a mathematics degree. Advanced Placement classes like this are commonplace in La Jolla and Scripps Ranch, but are historically less common at disadvantaged schools such as Crawford, which threw the class open to anyone.
  • Free speech advocates are challenging Southwestern College on how it handled a campus protest, particularly putting four professors on leave, the Union-Tribune reports.
  • KPBS talks about what’s in the new GI Bill for veterans when it comes to education.
  • Vista schools are weighing whether to merge two schools — one an elementary, one a middle school — to save as much as $500,000 annually in operating costs. Parents are a little worried about having middle schoolers and little kids on the same campus, the North County Times reports.
  • California could get up to $700 million if it makes the cut in Race to the Top, a competitive bid for more school stimulus money from the federal government, the Los Angeles Times writes. Said the California Federation of Teachers’ spokesman: “Seven hundred million is better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, but it’s not going to come close to filling the hole” of previous budget cuts.
  • Education Week takes a national view on the newly released rules for Race to the Top and all the wonky details. The Washington Post also breaks it down, explaining that the scoring system for states vying for the dollars leans heavily on teacher and principal effectiveness. Unions won’t like that.
  • Blogger Alexander Russo rounds up the different quotes from articles on the new Race to the Top rules and says journalists are still making too much out of a molehill of money.
  • It’s pretty bad when schools have to file restraining orders against students. The Santa Rosa Press-Democrat reports on the phenomenon.
  • A new teacher in East Oakland says he’s hanging by a thread and desperately wants someone to just tell him how the heck he’s doing and how he can improve. An amazing window into the daily work of teaching from the Oakland Tribune schools blog.
  • I’m still stunned by this story from the Raleigh News and Observer: Families who gave $20 to a middle school could buy higher grades on tests. The principal defended it, saying that selling chocolates hadn’t worked and the grade bump was so little that it wouldn’t make a difference. (Doesn’t that undercut your sales strategy?) The district has now ended the practice.
  • Education Week writes about a new book that explores how pay incentives for teachers might work, including some that teachers design themselves.
  • The latest Bracey Report on Public Education, written by the late firebrand Gerald Bracey, seeks to debunk three major ideas: That good schools can eliminate the achievement gap by themselves, that mayoral control will help fix schools and that high standards will boost school performance. I’ve only gotten halfway through it, but it’s definitely worth reading.
  • You think testing is high-stakes here? Try being a kid in South Korea, NPR reports.
EMILY ALPERT

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