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University of Gloucestershire

The University of Gloucestershire has been in its current organization since 2001, though its history stretches back about 200 years. The University has three campuses in Cheltenham, one in Gloucester – and what a beautiful place that is – with another in London.

Check out the video below to get a sense of the people and setting.

NEA’s Teacher Thank You Card

I rarely speak or write of the NEA in a way that would warm the cockles of that organization’s heart. Their lobbying efforts don’t warrant it.

Individual teachers, however, shouldn’t be punished for their union’s misgivings. That’s why the NEA-sponsored Thank a Teacher website is worth a moment:

On May 4th, NEA unveiled the [teacher thanks] mural at The Cannon House, the oldest congressional office building in Washington, DC. NEA and national leaders joined hundreds of local public school students, their teachers and teachers of the year for the event.

It’s a simple thing – a mural of thank you notes and cards to our teachers, specific and general. Leave one for a teacher you know or for teachers in general.

Praise is a funny thing. I don’t think much of effusive praise for the simplest, most mundane achievements. Teachers shouldn’t be patted on the back for pulling in $60,000 + full benefits, as many middle-of-the-road teachers in my local district do, for showing up to work [summers not included, obviously] and fulfilling the obligations of their contract. As professionals, they shouldn’t want praise for doing the bare minimum. Teachers aren’t heroes for choosing the profession; they’re heroes when they do their job well.

But everyone needs a ‘thank you’ or show of appreciation now and again, no matter the profession. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a parent who thanks his kid’s teacher for communicating well or for your kid having an all-around good day, or you’re just a taxpayer who appreciates that your school taxes are paying the salary of an asset to your community. It doesn’t need to be much – just thank a teacher now and again.

And you can start ye olde thank teacher project by hopping over to the NEA’s site.

Scoundrel Al Sharpton, the Bad Penny Happily Spent By EduWeenies

Yes, yes – ‘education is the civil rights issue of our time.’ If the 40,000 variations on that theme didn’t sink in during the 2008 campaign season, I get 140-character reminders often enough via Twitter.

And when was the last time we saw any sort of civil rights crowd that didn’t have a well-coifed Al Sharpton at the front – or trying to muscle his way to the front – with one eye searching for the media and the other eye searching for a mirror?

Get used to Al in Education, folks. That ‘Strong Schools’ bit last year was the calm before the annoying, prolonged, ineffectual drizzle that’s a Sharpton storm.

Here’s a press release/e-mail I got the other day. I’ll parse it.

Hi Matthew,

Did you see that Al Sharpton, Mike Bloomberg, and Newt Gingrich came together today — and at the White House of all places?  The meeting was to discuss education equality and how to improve our nation’s schools.  It was a remarkable gathering and you can read about the event here: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/44/2009/05/07/gingrich_bloomberg_and_sharpto.html?wprss=44

Trios are good. Sometimes individually great men combine to make something greater – like the Three Tenors, or even Bryan Adams, Rod Stewart and Sting singing “All for One [and All for Love]” on The Three Musketeers soundtrack.

This combination – unlike the two cited above – has a weak, embarrassing link. Gingrich could be a classic Kenny Rogers and Bloomberg one of those successful but ever-evolving David Bowie types. Sharpton, however, is not to be taken seriously. He’s a bit like the ukulele player Tiny Tim, God rest his soul.

Can you imagine what song we’d get from Kenny Rogers, David Bowie and Tiny Tim?

And you can see footage of the event here: http://www.politico.com/politico44/perm/0509/unlikely_trio_at_the_w_h_444542bd-4539-431b-abf6-f06fca3f1f77.html or here http://www.edequality.org

I’d rather hear the song.

The meeting was in advance of education equality day, which will feature thousands of people coming together to demand education equality in Washington DC on May 16th:  http://edequality.org/page/s/eepday

Let me know if you have any questions.

Here’s one: Why does anyone in education take Al Sharpton seriously? How quickly we’ve forgotten his actions in the Tawana Brawley case, his outright racism and his lifelong defense of his actions. Don’t bother Googling for Sharpton’s apologies to Stephen Pagones, the others he accused of rape, defilement and hatred, New York State or the public. He’s never uttered any.

And how spineless we’ve become, especially in public education, not to hold a man like Sharpton to account. Sharpton’s prominent involvement in education issues shows how weak the field of education leaders really is – and how badly we need some respectable, heroic leaders.

I’m getting tired of scoundrels like Al Sharpton, but I’m more tired of the milquetoasts who let it slide. I’ll pass on “Education Equality Day” in lieu of celebrating “High Standards and Integrity Day.”

Some of us celebrate that one every day. Do you?

Western International University

Western International University is popping up in the sidebars of quite a few newsletters and websites lately. WIU is just one of that massive wave of distance education services that have become more prominent in recent years, though they’ve been around for a few decades. The opportunities for outfits like WIntU to offer both brick-and-mortar and online / distance options to working adults – who seem to be increasingly pressured to get a degree, any degree at all, as quickly as possible – have combined with a rapidly growing market to ensure that we see a great deal more of them, and with greater legitimacy, than in the past.

WIntU, like others, offers a long list of degree programs and online degrees as well as individual courses that may or may not be transferable. They’re a larger operation with campuses from Arizona to India.

As I’ve written before, whether you personally are interested in online or distance education makes no difference. It doesn’t even matter whether it’s good or bad. What matters is that as a teacher, parent, student, or generally responsible person, you understand what’s out there – and especially what’s being sold to willing consumers.

Read the ads, pitches and websites for places like WIntU, regardless of your stance, if you want to keep on top of education. Tens of thousands of consumers do – and for their sake, you need to understand what these schools/businesses are about.

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