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There’s a buzz around community colleges these days. And it’s not just because Chevy Chase is starring in the NBC sitcom “Community,” about the lives of quirky misfits on a community college campus. The recession has fueled a surge in community college enrollment. Do the math, and it’s easy to see why. Average annual tuition and fees at a public community college is $2,361 compared with $6,185 for a four-year public institution, according to the American Association of Community Colleges It will be interesting to see how community colleges cope if the promised billions of dollars in federal American Graduation Initiative money materialize. During their moment in the sun, will community colleges be able to deliver? Stay tuned. —Caralee Adams
Reformers today increasingly stress the indispensability of passion for inspired teaching. But passion is an intense emotion that is hard to sustain over a protracted period. Most public school teachers at the high school level, for example, teach five classes a day five days a week. How likely is it that they can teach all their lessons with the same fervor?
In no other field is it possible to do the equivalent. That’s why live stage performances, for example, are limited to two hours or so. Yet public school teachers are expected to be immune. How realistic is this strategy?
At present, about half of new teachers bail out within the first five years. This churn rate costs public schools about $7.3 billion annually, according to the National Commission on Teaching & America’s Future. So the next time passion is cited as the key to great teaching, it’s important to put it into proper perspective. It has its limits. —Walt Gardner
Two experts dropped by the Education Week office last week to talk about summer learning.
Ron Fairchild, CEO of the National Summer Learning Association, and Jeff Smink, the association’s vice president for policy, said that it’s generally agreed that summer learning is a critical way to keep less-advantaged kids from falling behind. That said, in tight budget times, many officials look to summer learning as good, but not mandatory, and programs get cut. Fairchild’s group wants districts to see high-quality summer initiatives as a reform priority for which they plan in three- to five-year stretches. —Mary-Ellen Phelps Deily
Vol. 29, Issue 29, Page 6