Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The hiatus extends

Dear JIS Topics reader,

You may have noticed that what started as a holiday hiatus from blogging has lingered. I've decided to take a more permanent break from daily posting. Honestly, my family needs more of my attention at the moment. And honestly, JIS Topics didn't work out as I had hoped. There wasn't a return on investment, so to speak, that justified the proverbial blood, sweat and tears (other than that I learned a great deal about education policy from great thinkers who write for newspapers, magazines, ed-policy organizations, and blogs).

So I'm hanging up my blogger hat.

Thank you so much to you for stopping by to JIS Topics, and if you shared a comment or two during its run, you have my deepest appreciation. Dialogue is one of the best ways to grow as a thinker because it requires thoughtfulness, empathy, and consideration of both sides of an issue. I learned so much from those who commented on JIS Topics.

And if you're not an educator or policy maker but would like to stay on top of the issues, opinions and dilemmas in education, then may I suggest that you sign up for a Bloglines account. Bloglines lets you set up a virtual mailbox, which will collect and display the daily feeds of blogs and news outlets that you choose.

To give you an idea of how it works, here's my Bloglines "mailbox," into which I receive daily news from 32 different education news sources. It takes me about 15 minutes a day to read through the postings, (sometimes longer if it's a busy news day). These are 15 minutes well spent, as I get to read and consider the thinking of the best minds in education, including:

  • Ken DeRosa at D-Ed Reckoning (amazing writer and no-nonsense guy)
  • Alexander Russo at This Week in Education (a big gun)
  • Andrew Rotherham (aka "The Eduwonk" -- and a potential candidate for the Secretary of Education post in the future)
  • Ms. Cornelius and TMAO, two teacher-bloggers recognized by Jay Mathews (the Washington Post's education guru) as among the best in the blogosphere. Both have brought tears and goosebumps with their postings
  • Joanne Jacobs, a fantastic journalist who's chronicled the journey of struggling schools trying to go from bad to great
  • The anonymous Education Wonks, the grand-poobah of the weekly Carnival of Education
  • Ryan Boots, the smart, thoughtful writer and editor at
  • The team of writers at Kitchen Table Math -- the site that inspired me to dive into the world of blogging.
If you have a child at the Jakarta International School, I encourage you to review the new online curriculum pages available through the JIS ParentNet. The school has worked hard to get this information on the internet, and it's worth your effort to take advantage of its work by learning what your children are studying.

If you're from (or will be moving to) the United States, you can compare the JIS curriculum standards and benchmarks to those being used in your state. You'll find a complete listing of state standards at this website. It can be an eye-openning experience to see what your kids' friends back in the States are learning. (But remember, not all standards are created equal. The Fordham Foundation analyzed standards from all 50 states, and named only three as outstanding. I use those states -- California, Maryland, and Indiana -- as my gold standard.)

So thanks again for your support and kind words over the past 10 months. I'll continue to advocate for better education on behalf of all children, and I hope you will too, in your own ways.

As they say in Holland, Tot Ziens....

UPDATE: Shortly after hanging up my blogger hat, the van Tilburg family gave up on the Jakarta International School. We decided to "put our money where our mouth is," and leave a country that we love deeply in search of a stronger educational experience for our two children.

We moved to Singapore so that our kids could attend the Singapore American School. SAS is not perfect (no school is!), but it's been a good move for the kids. We're very cognizant that our decision to move isn't an option for very many expats. We were very lucky. But as I've said innumerable times on this blog -- getting a good education shouldn't come down to luck. It should be something that every family can depend on, no matter where they live.