Good Things from Chicago Public Schools, The Worst in Professional Writing, and Obama’s Rhetoric of Education

Field Notes headerThis week’s roundup of articles collectively considers the question ‘How can we do well in writing, rhetoric, and discourse?’  The New York Times article shares a tutoring success story in Chicago, while Stephen Lurie’s piece in The Atlantic argues that Obama’s vision of education reform has proven to be empty rhetoric thus far.  Each piece asks its readers to consider the efficacy of words, rhetoric, and  discourse.  On a lighter note, we found a list of the worst examples of professional writing in 2013 — read at your own risk!

Intensive Small-Group Tutoring and Counseling Helps Struggling Students

This New York Times piece summarizes a recent study performed by the University of Chicago Urban Education Lab.   The team provided intense tutoring and group behavioral counseling to low-income 9th and 10th graders in Chicago’s South Side.  Though the students had a history of absences, disciplinary problems, and and learning disabilities, they were able to learn 3 years’ worth of math curriculum in 8 months and were on track to graduate from high school.  Despite the encouraging results of the study, the article notes that the cost of providing the tutoring and counseling was around $4,400 per student.  Such costly, individualized education is simply not a possibility for most Chicago schools.  However, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has said that he hopes to expand the tutoring and counseling program to other area schools.

Obama’s Empty Rhetoric on Education

Stephen Lurie’s editorial argues that President Obama’s thoughts on education have amounted to fragile promises in speeches, rather than a central, federal education policy that gives form to his ideas — that “change” is easier said than done.  While Lurie’s article is certainly critical, it asks us to consider the power of Obama’s words and his rhetoric .

2013 Wondermark Awards

Each year, the Center for Plain Language rounds up the best and worst of government and business documents.  This list includes the year’s most egregious examples of unclear communication, a caution to any future professional writers in our group!

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