From Fast Company: Can Your Brain Really Be Retrained?
From Fast Company: Can Your Brain Really Be Retrained?
KQED's MindShift checks in with Doug Lemov about his new book, lexile scores, and Lord of the Rings.
During my two decades as an American Federation of Teachers member, I often worried that we were too moderate. Truth be told, I bet most teachers union members and leaders have shared such concerns. Each time I took a dispassionate look at the political facts we faced, however, I supported our leaders' willingness to remain team players and to compromise. Compromises, even painful ones that were likely to hurt our schools in the short run, were our only way to survive and protect our colleagues and students. As my AFT local president explains, "school improvement is a marathon, not a sprint."
Now the AFT, along with our NEA brethren and civil rights and community groups are launching a $1.2 million dollar counter-attack on corporate reform. The timing is perfect. The test-driven reform movement has spent its millions of dollars on scorched earth politics. The federal government has wasted billions of dollars on blame-the-teacher, market-driven reforms and coerced states into squandering tens of billions of dollars on the educational equivalent of Intelligent Design. Educators chafed, tried to contribute some realism to the accountability hawks' top-down micromanaging and tried to perform the adult role of tempering the true believers in "disruptive innovation."
The task of documenting their folly, however, often fell to Diane Ravitch and her followers.
I was slow in recognizing the truth that Ravitch uncovered: A naïve crusade claiming that classroom instruction, alone, could overcome generations of poverty had morphed into "corporate reform."
"Tactics in the personal channel of influence (political support and personal communication) were more influential than tactics that addressed legislators indirectly, such as grassroots campaigns, media outreach and informational seminars" (Measuring the Influence of Education Advocacy Brown/Brookings)
U.S. Department of Education to Redo SIG Analysis Due to Contractor Error PoliticsK12: The analysis, which was released just a couple of weeks ago, excluded about half of the schools that entered the newly revamped SIG program in its first year (the 2010-11 school year) and about a third of the schools that started in the second year (the 2011-12 school year.) It's unclear if the do-over will significantly change those conclusions.
Head Start funding partially restored in federal budget deal EdSource Today: Head Start lost about 57,000 slots for children, including more than 5,600 in California, because of cuts under federal sequestration, a program of automatically triggered, across-the-board spending cuts. These cuts have continued to ripple through Head Start operations month by month as they cycle through their federal grant processes.
Arrest Leads to Shake-Up of Alexander's Leadership Team PoliticsK12: Longtime Capitol Hill staffer and edu-nerd extraordinaire David Cleary, the GOP staff director for the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, has become the chief of staff to Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. Alexander, a former U.S. secretary of education, currently serves as the top GOP lawmaker on the Senate education committee.
Mike Huckabee's "Common Core is Dead" Line Not What He Told State Chiefs State EdWatch:The former Arkansas governor said he is dissatisfied with the implementation of the common core and how it has become "hijacked" by other interests.
Charter Leader Denies Insider's Advantage WNYC: “I’m not suggesting that I don’t know anyone at Tweed, I do,” she said, referring to the D.O.E.'s headquarters. “So if you’re saying can I pick up the phone and call folks, yes, I can. But does that mean from a policy perspective I’ve gotten any advantages? Absolutely not.”
Lots more news below.
"In the wake of the shootings at Columbine, a small town celebrates a charismatic judge who is hell-bent on keeping kids in line...until one parent dares to question the motives behind his brand of justice."
There’s no clear trend for public spending on education as a percentage of the U.S. economy, but public investment hasn’t withered. -- FackCheck.org
Are Kids Sports Pricing Themselves Out of the Market? (Pacific Standard)
The AFT is sponsoring a NYC event on education next week called Moving the Needle Summit: A Collaborative Approach to Education Reform.
"The program’s conversations will examine the current policy debates and the underlying social issues that put the nation’s future generations at risk, while seeking to move towards real solutions."
The interesting lineup includes Steve Barr, Founder, Green Dot Public Schools and Future is Now Schools, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Senior Editor, The Atlantic, Nicholas Lemann, Dean Emeritus, Columbia Journalism School, Irwin Redlener, President and Co-Founder, Children’s Health Fund, and Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers.
*Corrected link thanks to @jgordonwright
"The [NCTQ] report identifies "The Big Five" of classroom management: Make rules; establish structure and routines; praise students for positive behavior; address bad behavior; and maintain student behavior." (Teachers Aren't Trained to Praise Their Students The Atlantic).
Learning Matters and Sam Chaltain follow the much-discussed superintendent and ask him some tough questions.
Supporters of the Common Core Speak Out WNYC: State education commissioner John King faced a highly supportive audience Tuesday night at his first forum on the Common Core learning standards in New York City. Parents at the Brooklyn forum spoke emotionally about the need for improved instruction and at times recalled their own stories of performing well in high school, only to get to college to need remedial classes or tutoring.
As testing anxiety peaks, student media campaign urges calm Chalkbeat NY: While student aversion to tests is nothing new, the Hudson students’ campaign comes at a moment of high anxiety about testing in New York: grade 3-8 state exams tied to tougher standards caused scores to plummet this year, a new evaluation system for city teachers factors in test scores, and a rule change requiring higher Regents scores to graduate is now fully in effect. Last week, a group of teachers in Brooklyn held a public forum to vent their frustrations.
D.C. teachers event turns raucous, with mayoral candidates drowned out Washington Post: The main point of the whole raucous evening was spelled out on the blue-and-white sign given center stage at Eastern High School on Monday night: ‘Our voices matter,’ it said. Teachers’ voices, it meant.
Budget Deal Could Offer School Districts Relief from Sequestration PoliticsK12: It's unclear at this point what the agreement, if approved by Congress, will mean for individual programs. Congress has until Jan. 15 to craft a final spending bill for fiscal year 2014, which will help school districts set spending levels next fall.
After Setbacks, Online Courses Are Rethought NYT: Large-scale online courses, hailed as a way to democratize higher education, have so far been plagued by very high attrition rates.
Charter Schools Continue Dramatic Growth Despite Controversies HuffPost:The growth is large, percentage-wise, but since some of the numbers started low, the statistics may be overstating the reality. For example, the report found that the number of districts with more than one-fifth of students in a charter school has increased by 350 percent over the last eight years -- but only seven districts had that level of enrollment eight years ago.
New Orleans leads nation in percentage of public charter school enrollment Washington Post: New Orleans led the nation last year as the city with the greatest percentage of students enrolled in public charter schools, followed by Detroit and the District of Columbia, according to a new survey.
More of today's education news below.
"A day at work doesn't look like this. What about a day at school?" [Also from Upworthy -- they're so good at the headlines! -- and possibly not new (but I don't remember).] PS -- It's in French.
FactCheck.org took a look at President Obama's claim last week that education spending was withering over time and came to the conclusion that he was wrong (Obama on Education Investments). "It has increased from 4.7 percent [of GDP]in 1985 to 5.1 percent in 2010 with ups and downs along the way."
My latest Scholastic Administrator column is out, focusing on how the NCLB implementation and pushback history compares to the Common Core process we're going through now (Whither CCSS?).
"At the time, a number of states considered opting out. Several states (including Connecticut, Arizona, Utah, and Nebraska) and districts filed lawsuits against NCLB. So did the NEA and 11 districts scattered around the nation. Others sought accommodations, proposed legislation, or reported on the costs of complying with the new law. Three wealthy Connecticut districts opted out of the program entirely in 2003, followed by two districts near Chicago."
Back to the present: A few more states have slowed down their CCSS participation since the piece was written -- I think we're up to seven now, right? -- but the basic argument remains the same.
"If the history of NCLB is any guide, the vast majority of the current efforts to reconsider or roll back the Common Core will lose steam or result in some relatively minor accommodation well short of opting out. Whether that is a good thing or not depends on where you stand."
Here's something I hadn't seen before: Viral video site Upworthy brings on a "myths about schools" video -- courtesy of the AFL-CIO. Well played. Your turn, StudentsFirst et al.
As student, Obama drew inspiration from Mandela Boston Globe: But as Obama prepares to honor Mandela at a memorial service Tuesday in South Africa, people close to the U.S. president say he is well-aware that his rapid rise through America's political ranks pales in comparison to Mandela's 27 years in prison.
Ed Dept. Official: Other Countries Beating U.S. at Own Game PoliticsK12: During a conversation with state legislators at the National Conference of State Legislature's forum in Washington on Dec. 6, acting U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education James H. Shelton argued that it was "mythology" to say that the U.S. had truly "fallen behind" in terms of actual educational performance.
Teacher Training in Classroom Management Is Insufficient, NCTQ Finds TeacherBeat: A new report from the National Council on Teacher Quality finds fault with how teacher colleges approach instruction on classroom management.
Newtown Massacre Prompts More Vigilance in Schools and Elsewhere NYT: In Fairfield, Conn., and other towns there have been notable security changes, like more armed officers and surveillance cameras.
Reflections from people close to Newtown tragedy AP: Reflections from people connected to the shooting on Dec. 14, 2012, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in which 20 first-graders and six educators died....
Teachers Union Holding Vigils for 260 'Housed' Members LA School Report: While American Federation of Teachers affiliates are holding a “National Day of Action” today, UTLA is planning four vigils in support of “housed” LA Unified teachers, those caught between allegations of misconduct and final rulings on their employment status.
There's a big national push to get US kids to learn how to code computer programs going on, as you may have noticed (see Google News roundup here).
You know, there are lots of programming jobs out there, and we need more American kids to program the drones and teachbots of the future.
What do you think? Excited? Fearful? A little of both? Me, too.
I don't know of any other big city school district making this kind of announcement.
Image via Flickr HackNY
The annual Spencer Education Journalism Fellowship luncheon took place a couple of weeks ago and those alumni in attendance made up a veritable who's who of education reporting. They included Liz Bowie (Balt Sun), Greg Toppo (USA Today), Dana Goldstein (Slate, Nation), Sarah Garland (Hechinger), Trey Kay (NPR). Those not able to make it -- Sarah Carr, Peg Tyre, Elizabeth Green, among others -- are an equally impressive lot. (That's the 2010 crew pictured right.)
Latest Spencer news: Greg Toppo just got a book contract for his learning games book and is joining the Spencer advisory board. Dana Goldstein just turned in her completed manuscript. Sarah Garland has a very cute baby. Current Spencers Jamaal Abdul-Alim, Lauren Smith Camera, and Annie Murphy Paul were all there, too.
All this to say that the Spencer Fellowship is up again for 2014-2015 and if you think you have the stuff to make it through Evidence and Inference and Sam Freedman's book writing workshop you should apply. Seriously.Your idea is great. You're totally qualified. The competition isn't too tough. (Plus which, the Nieman deadline is already passed.)
See the latest press release below. Don't forget.
"Grit" - the tendency of a person to persevere through the difficult process of attaining a long-term goal - has become popular among educators recently who view it as one of those "non-cognitive" skills that, if properly instilled, can help students succeed in school and in life.
Over the last few weeks Peter Meyer has written a couple of very good essays summarizing why the educational significance of "grit" is probably overstated. You should read them both, but the bottom line is that while grit is certainly good to have, persistence is helpful largely because it facilitates the development and utilization of conventional cognitive abilities.
In other words, educators excited about developing students' grit tend to underestimate how important it will be for those students to acquire large amounts of factual knowledge.
Here's another recent Chris Hayes segment about the President's inequality speech and what education can and can't accomplish on its own.
Teachers unions face moment of truth Politico: Support for labor unions in general has fallen steadily, dipping below 50 percent for the first time in 2012 before rebounding slightly this year, Gallup polls find.
AFT Makes $1 Million Ad Buy Against Testing, 'Privatization' Politics K12: The National Education Association is also involved but its spending is smaller, Politico reports. That might be because membership losses at the NEA have cut back the amount it can spend on messaging and communications, as I've reported.
AFT, Partners Push National Day of Action to Oppose 'Privatization' of Schooling TeacherBeat: The national union has reportedly spent more than $1 million on advertising buys to promote the campaign.
Fletcher Facing 8 in Bid for LA Teacher Union Presidency LA School Report: The size of the field, which includes one current UTLA officer, Secondary Vice President Greg Solkovits, and one who also ran for president in 2011, Leonard Segal, suggests an undercurrent of dissatisfaction with Fletcher’s policies, leadership style or both.
Lots more state and local news below.
I wrote an essay for EdSource last month arguing that California - or any state adopting the Next Generation Science Standards (GSS) - would be wise to add specific factual knowledge to the new standards during the implementation process.
The NGSS are disappointingly lacking in scientific content, which they de-emphasize in favor of more general scientific thinking skills and "practices".
One point that's worth elaborating on is that it's not entirely clear what good science assessments look like when science standards are very vague on the details of what factual knowledge students should acquire in school.
There's an unfortunate tendency among many science educators to assume that specific knowledge isn't all that important, and that we should really be aiming to assess "higher-order" scientific thinking skills anyway.
In practice, however, that's easier said than done.
Check those sites for updates, or go to GothamSchools or AISR or HuffPost Education or Atlantic Education for a morning news roundup. Or Politics K12, or Politico's Morning Read.
Have a great day, and see you back here Monday!
From last night's MSNBC, All In host Chris Hayes breaks new ground by having Michelle Rhee on the show and declaims lack of philanthropic support and political attention towards reducing child poverty (vs. reforming schools). Rhee tries to get a word in (what's that neon logo glowing behind her?)
Over at the Atlantic's education page, check out my top education stories of the year and let me know if you agree or disagree. There's something for everyone. Or, try and guess my 9 and see how many you get right. I'm going with #ed2013 but that's probably already been used or won't take off. Image via the Atlantic.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in This Week In Education are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.