"Just earlier this year, Nadia Lopez was ready to quit her job at Mott Hall Bridges Academy" -- a school she'd founded in 2010 in the poorest neighborhood in New York City. "Four years later, though, she worried her work wasn't influencing the community." (via The Atlantic: Meet Ms. Lopez of Mott Hall Bridges Academy)
Take a look at this 2010 chart -- a made-up seating chart for a nonexistent USDE briefing room setup and you'll get a pretty vivid idea of how much has changed in national education coverage over the past five years (A Map To Coverage Of National Education News):
So much has changed, I know! USA Today's Toppo is splitting duties on other issues (like demographics). The WSJ's Banchero is gone (to Joyce), replaced by Brody. PK12's McNeil is gone (to the College Board), replaced by Klein and Camera. The NYT's Dillon is gone (to retirement, I think), replaced by Rich. Winerip is gone (to other beats), and the column has sat empty since he left. At the Washington Post, Mathews is gone (to LA, at least), though he's still columnizing from there. AP has changed over. Colbert is gone (as we know him), replaced by... nothing so far as I can tell. Sanchez has been joined by Kamenetz and Turner. Politico's education page didn't exist back then. Huffington Post's education page wasn't launched yet, either, I guess (come back soon, Joy!).
It's difficult to go from a zero-tolerance mentality to a restorative justice mentality, because it's a whole different way of looking at things. To really do restorative justice, there have to be certain things in place. -- CTU official Michael Brunson in the Tribune (Teachers complain about revised CPS discipline policy)
Here's a map of Common Core states, by assessment, from EdWeek, that I got off the #EWACore event hashtag. (All it needs is testing start/end dates for each state, right?) Agenda is here. Crossed fingers there's some (gentle?) discussion of how well/poorly media are doing covering the situation.
Unable to repeal Common Core, foes try sabotage Politico: Conservative lawmakers in state after state are running into difficulty rounding up votes to revoke the academic standards outright.. See also NJEA launches ad campaign against PARCC.
White House Issues Veto Threat Against House GOP NCLB Rewrite PK12: Why doesn't the administration like this bill? For one thing, they're not happy about what they see as a big step on back on accountability, particularly for the poor and minority kids that NCLB was designed to help. See also AP, Obama threatens veto of House education bill; White House threatens veto of GOP bill to fix No Child Left Behind; No Child Reauthorization Has No Shot.
CPS in a bind over snub of state-mandated test, official says Tribune: Chicago school board President David Vitale said during Wednesday's board meeting that the district's effort to administer the exam to just 66 of its more than 600 schools has been "clear and consistent." But, he acknowledged, "The response we've gotten from other authorities is also clear." See also Sun-Times: Which CPS schools will be tested in 2 weeks still unknown.
De Blasio calls for permanent mayoral control of schools ChalkbeatNY: Before mayoral control, the city’s school system was balkanized,” de Blasio said. “School boards exerted great authority with little accountability and we saw far too many instances of mismanagement, waste and corruption.” See also The Atlantic: NYC's Tale of Two Pre-Ks.
Rift escalates between Los Angeles teachers, district AP: Teachers in the nation's second-largest school district are in an escalating rift with Los Angeles Unified officials over higher wages. See also LATimes: Charter school group is political force in L.A. Unified board election, LA Weekly Charter Schools Take on Charter-Hating LAUSD Board Member Bennett Kayser
More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).
Former Montgomery schools chief Joshua Starr sets up business to open way for consulting Washington Post: Montgomery County’s former superintendent, Joshua P. Starr, has established a new consulting business, according to Maryland state records and a statement relayed through the school district.The limited liability company, called Education Solutions LLC, was registered with the state Feb. 17, a day after Starr’s resignation took effect, according to online records from the Maryland Department of Assessments & Taxation.
'Call Out Cuomo' teachers' rally at Massena High Saturday urging residents to ... North Country Now: Carlisto said the “Call Out Cuomo” events are expected to feature American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, NYSUT President Karen E. Magee and others
Arne Duncan talks early childhood education at Alexandria school Washington Post: Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Wednesday got a first-hand glimpse of early childhood education in a busy Alexandria preschool classroom, where he got down on the rug with youngsters playing with blocks, chatted up students building a “neighborhood” with sand and talked to a young girl about her writing.
5 Lessons Education Research Taught Us In 2014 NPR: Lessons from a handful of the most viewed papers from the American Education Research Association last year.
Dissecting A Frog: A Middle School Rite Of Passage NPR: In science classrooms across the country, middle-schoolers will take part in an iconic activity this year: frog dissection.
Teachers complain about revised CPS discipline policy Tribune: A CPS spokesman said the district makes training available to all schools on subjects including restorative practices and classroom management. Roughly 100 (of 600) schools have "restorative practices coaches" in the building weekly, and behavioral health teams work at 66 schools. Those resources are allocated to schools based on behavioral data, the district said.
Controversial Schools Tech Contract Wins NYC Approval WNYC: A contract to expand internet access in New York City schools as well as proposals for sharing school space moved forward despite concerns. Oh, and the cell phone ban was lifted.
Employee sues LAUSD superintendent third time alleging sexual harassment KPCC: The latest suit alleges Cortines made sexual advances to Graham in 2000 soon after Cortines helped Graham get a job with the school district’s real estate leasing operations. Cortines left the school district that same year and Graham didn’t report what allegedly happened, according to the suit.
The rise of Chicago's Casimir Pulaski Day WBEZ: The story behind this most “Illinois” of holidays involves Casimir, of course, but it’s more of a story about a strong community that was willing to spend political capital to honor him.
One District Will Have Saturday School to Make Up for Missed Days ABC News: A North Carolina school district will be in session on Saturday and parents aren't too happy. The Gaston County school district made the announcement Tuesday on Facebook and on its web site.
"In 1990, the highest level of education was found in the suburbs, seven to eight miles distant from the heart of Charlotte. By 2012, the Charlotte city center itself had the highest percentage of residents with college degrees." Thomas Edsall in the NYT, citing UVA research (The Gentrification Effect).
A new study out suggests that education 'experts' may lack expertise, in terms of academic qualifications. The study, authored by the UofIllinois' Joel R. Malin and Christopher Lubienski, suggests that media prominence and academic qualifications aren't closely related.
However, it's no big surprise that education policy has turned away from academic expertise (and academic research, for that matter). That's been going on for quite a while.
More importantly, the study doesn't name names, and it seems to include more individuals from the more conservative think tank experts -- AEI, Cato -- and fewer liberal or moderate ones. For reasons I'm not quite clear on (though I'm sure others could understand), EPI is included, but not CAP or New America, or Brookings (or Fordham).
For a list of institutional affiliations, look here. For MMFA's writeup, look here. The issue has been addressed before -- last winter in InsideHigher Ed, for example. The study was published in a recent issue of the journal Education Policy Analysis Archives. Image courtesy EPAA.
The Shanker Institute's Matt DiCarlo, in The Debate and Evidence on the Impact of NCLB, issues a typically nuanced, precise and (I'd say overly) cautious summary of what quantitative researchers may have proved about the meager positive effects of NCLB, as he overlooks the extreme "mis-naepery" of non-educators who support test-driven accountability.
DiCarlo correctly asserts that it is invalid to "use simple, unadjusted NAEP changes to prove or disprove any policy argument." But, he ignores a more meaningful and relevant reality. It is possible to use NAEP scores to disprove disingenuous claims that NAEP shows that NCLB worked.
DiCarlo concludes that "(test-based) school accountability in general" (emphasis in the original) "tends to have moderate positive estimated effects on short-term testing outcomes in math, and typically smaller (and sometimes nil) effects in reading. (emphasis mine)
The quantitative researcher then concludes, "There is scarce evidence that test-based accountability policies have a negative impact on short-term student testing outcomes." Such a narrowly worded statement is not false.
But, DiCarlo then states that "the vast majority of evaluations of test-based accountability policies suffer from an unavoidable but nonetheless important limitation: It is very difficult to isolate, and there is mixed evidence regarding, the policies and practices that led to the outcomes." That conclusion ignores the vast body of qualitative evidence by journalists and scholars who do not limit themselves to regression studies.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel forced into April runoff election WBEZ: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel failed to capture a majority of the vote Tuesday in his bid for a second term, an embarrassment for the former White House chief of staff who now faces a runoff this spring against CTU-endorsed Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia.
In Anti-Testing Push, Unions Turn to Polls, Ads TeacherBeat: The New Jersey and Connecticut state affiliates of the National Education Association are mounting aggressive campaigns.
Los Angeles Unified's teachers union faces test of organizing strength LA Daily News: The print shop below United Teachers Los Angeles' headquarters cranked out 7,500 signs for protestors to carry when they descend on downtown Thursday, demanding higher pay, fewer students per classroom and better working conditions.
The Great U.S. History Battle NPR: The College Board redesigned the framework for its Advanced Placement U.S. history course, and many conservative lawmakers aren't happy about it.
Feds Find Discrimination Against Female Athletes in NYC Schools WNYC: New York City denies violating federal law, but agrees to changes to expand high school sports options for girls.
Taylor Swift Gives $50,000 in Song Proceeds to NYC Schools AP: Global ambassador' Taylor Swift donates $50,000 in song proceeds to NYC public schools
Feds support transgender teen in civil rights suit against schools Washington Post: Federal officials have offered their support for a teen who has accused four Michigan school districts of discriminating against him because he is transgender.U.S. civil rights laws protect “all individuals from sex discrimination, including transgender individuals,” lawyers for the Justice and Education departments wrote in a statement filed in federal district court.
L.A. Schools Reboot Plan to Give Every Student a Computer District Dossier: The Los Angeles Unified district doesn't have the money to continue with plans to provide all students with a tech device, superintendent Ramon Cortines said.
D.C. Defends Plan For School That Would Serve Only Minority Boys WAMU: D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s plan to open up an all-boys high school for minority students is facing new questions from the ACLU.
Photos Of School Lunches From Around The World Will Make American Kids Want To Study Abroad HuffPost: Parents could model better eating habits and stock their crispers with fresh fruit and vegetables, but a viable starter solution might begin at lunchtime. Sweetgreen, a healthy quick-serve restaurant that values local and organic ingredients, clarified disparity between American student lunches and those of other countries by photographing typical school lunches from around the world. The visuals are eye-opening.
How Twitter is shaping the #CommonCore debate Hechinger Report: Supovitz says that ordinary citizens and grassroots groups have used Twitter to gain the type of influence – both with politicians and the mainstream media – that has traditionally been enjoyed by more established groups.
I'm equally horrified and fascinated with the latest plot development on the HBO show Girls, in which Lena Dunham's character Hannah drops out of her MFA writing program and decides she's going to be a teacher. Specifically, she decides she wants to help people (despite her friends' observation that she's selfish) and that she's not good at writing, and -- yes -- that "those who can't teach." (Those words are actually uttered, with an unclear amount of irony.)
In a perfect/nightmare world, she'd do TFA or something, but to Hannah even that takes too long so she's apparently just going to substitute at a private girls' school. (The episode ends with her printing out a resume and walking up to a building with the name St. Justine's on the front.)
What to think, folks? Read more here: Girls Close-Up Episode Review for some guesses as to how well/poorly she'll do, and watch the clip below for a preview of next week. Or check out Twitter, where folks seem fascinated and appalled.
Note that one of the characters on High Anxiety also doesn't know what to do and tries teaching. It doesn't go well. Plus there's the charter school/adultery thing on Togetherness, and the charter school thing on Parenthood (RIP). And let's not forget The New Girl. This may be Peak Education On TV.
Image via @tvtagGirls
There are lots of different ways to look at the new CPRE/UPennGSE report about social media and the Common Core debate, but at least one of them is to observe just how small a role journalists and non-advocacy media outlets seem to have been playing -- even in areas where you'd think that mainstream and trade publications who share out information all day would have a big advantage:
*Just 13 of 158 high-volume "transmitters" (8 percent) are journalists. "These include print, online, and radio media, and represent both non-partisan and partisan media entities." I've asked for a list.
*Just 22 (16 percent) of 139 "transceivers" (who pass information along and have their tweets shared) are journos/media outlets. They include @educationweek, @BenSwann (who?), and @ NEAMedia (not really a journalistic outlet). This is the list where journalists are strongest, relatively speaking -- journalism's wheelhouse, really. But journalists come in third. (List requested.)
*Just 3 media outlets qualify for the list of 41 "transcenders" (the elite group in the study). They are @educationweek, @StateEdWatch (penned by Andrew Ujifusa) & @ellemoxley. The report adds @NEAMedia to the list but again that's a whole different thing.
Of course, the study is limited to tweets directly related to Common Core, and a certain time period.Other kinds of criteria would surface larger numbers of journalists and education outlets that are high-volume, high-retweet, or high-influence.
But my sense is that the report illustrates a deeper dynamic, which is that journalists and media outlets lag far behind activists on the use of Twitter, in part because of the decline in traditional journalism but even more so because of self-imposed limitations on expressing views or attempting to shape the debate. Advocates, think tankers, and even academics have a green light that journalists don't.
Also, my sense is that journalists' experience of Twitter is mostly being tweeted at by those with complaints legitimate and others. Twitter is the "new comment section," it's being widely noted, and we all know how most journalists feel about comments. So there may be some avoidance going on.
Image used with permission. I found the PDF version easiest for word searches but maybe there are other, better ways to navigate. #htagcommoncore @cpreresearch @upennGSE.
More Conflict Over Cutting Federal Role in Education NYT: Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Monday produced data that he said showed that poorer districts would suffer under a Republican plan expected to clear the House of Representatives this week.
As House Prepares to Vote on NCLB, Advocates Push for Preschool Funding U.S. News & World Report: Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, noted the first bill, passed in 1965, was a bipartisan effort, as was its reauthorization in 1994. "It would be a very good signal to America if something that has bipartisan support ...
How Would the House NCLB Rewrite Affect Funding for Minority Students? PK12: The White House report, released Tuesday, warns of cuts of more than $1.3 billion over 6 years to more than ten districts that serve high concentrations of African-American students. But, these top-line estimates, while powerful, are essentially a worst-case scenario that's highly unlikely to play out in real life, especially if you consider them over six years. There are a number of reasons why.
Schools using new tools to make teachers better Seattle Times: How to help teachers improve? A new system of in-depth observation by trained evaluators and principals, soon to be required in schools across Washington, shows what can help. See also: Seattle ranks high in suspending elementary-school students with special needs.
Suspended students lose millions of days of instruction while out of school Washington Post: Suspension rates dropped for many of the nation’s school districts — including some in the Washington region — but U.S. students still lost about 18 million days of instruction to out-of-school punishments in the 2011-2012 school year, according to research released Monday.
Suspensions at city charter schools far outpace those at district schools, data show ChalkbeatNY: One-third of charter schools reported suspending fewer than 5 percent of their students, and many schools said they did not give out any out-of-school suspensions. But 11 charter schools suspended more than 30 percent of their students — a figure likely to draw added scrutiny amid a nationwide push to reduce suspensions and a debate over allowing more charter schools to open statewide.
Chicago sets early voting record in last weekend before mayoral election WBEZ: About 90,000 Chicago voters cast their ballots during early voting, including more than 21,500 votes on Saturday, which set a single-day record for a municipal election.
Christie’s Truce With Teachers Could Pay Dividends in ’16 NYT: Gov. Chris Christie and the New Jersey Education Association are cooperating to grapple with the state’s crippling pension costs, and that may help the governor’s presidential ambitions.
More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).
School breakfasts for low income students -- especially those proposed by unpopular district leaders and provided in student classrooms -- can be controversial, even though it's not that new. (The newer thing is school dinner.)
Just look to LA, where the Breakfast in the Classroom program was a major sticking point between former LAUSD head John Deasy and UTLA. If SEIU hadn't been strongly supportive of the program, the teachers might have forced a rollback. Last I read, participation had grown from 7 to 40 percent (see KPCC here).
Or check out NYC, where Mayor De Blasio has been moving mighty slowly with the effort, despite having promised to take quick action when he was a candidate. (See WSJ: Antipoverty Advocates Say NYC Mayor Should Have Included Free Breakfast in Budget).
One place school breakfast hasn't been especially controversial has been Chicago. Yep, Chicago, where pretty much anything and everything is disputed these days.
The program began in 2011 and the district is ahead of the rest of the state, based on SY2014 statistics from CPS. Breakfast meals were up to 26 million (or 39 percent) last year, which isn't as big as the school lunch program but it's much newer. Projected numbers are higher this year, according to CPS, which also says that the district is rated at or above the median for large urban school districts by the Great City Schools. This is Chicago's first year as part of the USDA's Community Eligibility Option by USDA, in which all schools in the district provide students with access to free breakfast and lunch.
Related posts: Antipoverty Advocates Say NYC Mayor Should Have Included Free Breakfast in Budget (WSJ); Nearly Half Of Low-Income Kids Don't Eat Breakfast (HuffPost); IL Among the Lowest Performing States For Free School Breakfast Participation (Progress IL); Dinner Is Now On The Menu At Schools With Poor Kids; Lunch, Breakfast — Now Dinner.
Is there some way I can include Channing Tatum in my education research? Because that needs to happen.— Morgan Polikoff (@mpolikoff) February 23, 2015
It's from Morgan Polikoff: "Is there some way I can include Channing Tatum in my education research? Because that needs to happen." Any other good #Oscars2015 mashups that I might have missed?
“When I was 16 years old, I tried to kill myself, because I felt weird and different and I didn’t belong." Inspiring message that was sadly too late for Draven Rodriguez (the Laser Cat Yearbook kid). Or, watch the Moral March from North Carolina (via AFT). Got something better? Send it to me at @alexanderrusso@
-- Art teacher from "Boyhood," challenging unfocused protagonist to set some goals. See my tweets from last night for other tidbits (or try @mpolikoff or @smarick for edwonk #oscars2015 punditry).
Tennessee's Common Core review comes with uncommon costs Times Free Press: A bill requiring Tennessee's State Board of Education to drop Common Core education standards and develop new requirements has a math problem: It's projected to cost $4.14 million over a three-year period.
State not joining revolt against Common Core learning model Seattle Times: Despite backlash in other states over new learning standards known as the Common Core, little serious opposition has surfaced in Washington.
Is your child’s personal data safe at school? PBS NewsHour: In Miami, a man was arrested with students’ names, social security numbers and birthdays — more than enough personal information to steal their identities. Parents in D.C. learned that information on student enrollment in special education services — including names and passwords for online mailboxes — has for years been easily accessible to anyone online, due to a security breach.
YouTube launches kids app Marketplace: YouTube launches a kids app on Monday. It comes with a filter for content, kid friendly design, and a parental timer for how long kids can play. It’s just one of several new media platforms targeting kids.
L.A. Unified says it can't afford 'computer for all' plan LA Times: Los Angeles Unified schools Supt. Ramon C. Cortines said Friday that the district cannot afford to provide a computer to every student, signaling a major reversal of his predecessor's ill-fated $1.3-billion effort to distribute iPads to all students, teachers and school administrators.
When a Wildlife Rehab Center Regulates Charter Schools ProPublica: Nestled in the woods of central Minnesota, near a large lake, is a nature sanctuary called the Audubon Center of the North Woods. It’s also Minnesota’s largest regulator of charter schools, overseeing 32 of them. As a group, the schools overseen by the center fall below the state average on test scores.
Cuomo Plan Diminishes Principals' Authority on Evaluations WNYC: New York City principals challenged Gov. Andrew Cuomo on his plan to increase the role of outside evaluators in reviewing teacher performance.
Report Recommends Elected School Board for Chicago District Dossier: A new report from the Collaborative for Justice and Equity in Education recommends an elected school board for the city that would prioritize "equitable educational opportunities and outcomes" in its decisionmaking.
At New York Private Schools, Challenging White Privilege From the Inside NYT: In a new type of diversity initiative at elite institutions, students explore privilege and power and are encouraged to think about social justice in a personal way.
A safety net for dropouts catches others WBEZ: Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academy in Humboldt Park is one of the district’s 20 new alternative schools opened in the last two years. It’s a joint venture between the NBA-star-turned-businessman, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, and EdisonLearning, a for-profit education company. Students come for half the day and do most of their work online. Many can finish a full credit in a matter of weeks.
Expelled in preschool Hechinger Report: An after-school program run by Chicago Youth Centers has seen significant improvement in children’s behaviors since staff began working with Lauren Wiley, an early childhood mental health consultant.
Chicago's Mayor Emanuel spends heavily to avoid run-off Reuters: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is hoping his warm hug with President Barack Obama in the last days of his re-election campaign will help him avoid a run-off in the race to lead the financially troubled, third largest city in the country.
The Test concludes with four strategies for dealing with tests.
"A test season riff on the WWII poster "Keep Calm And Carry On" via @mikeklonsky. Is this for real, or even new? I have no idea but would love to know. There's an ACT logo and they're getting back to me about whether it's official or not. If this was done by ACT rather than bootlegged it would be all the better. Other versions of the same idea are here." (2012: "Keep Calm And Continue Testing")
Politico reported yesterday that the NYT will be filling the spot once held by Steven Greenhouse with TNR alum Noam Scheiber.
I'm no expert on Schieber and his work on politics and labor, but a quick Google Search shows up stories and Tweets about Cory Booker, Karen Lewis, and New Jersey politics that suggest that he's going to provide different coverage than his predecessor.
There are precious few reporters assigned to cover the labor beat, including folks at BuzzFeed and EdWeek and indie bloggers like Mike (EIA) Antonucci, and perhaps depending on how you view his work Dropout Nation's RiShawn Biddle. I don't think there's anyone covering labor for the Washington Post or NPR.
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
Frigid temperatures trigger school closures, delays across region Friday Washington Post: As extremely cold temperatures descended on the Washington region Thursday night, area school officials made early decisions to cancel Friday classes or delay school openings as they weighed student safety, bus operations and facility concerns.
Could Common Core cause a Republican civil war in 2016? CBS: A Gallup poll last August found 76 percent of Republican voters nationwide are opposed to Common Core, and only 17 percent in favor. See also US News: 5 things to watch as governors meet in Washington.
Charter groups top unions in lobbying, campaign spending Capital New York: Charter school groups and their supporters spent $16 million on lobbying, campaign contributions to state-level candidates and parties and independent expenditure campaigns last year. Charter schools spent nearly $700,000 on lobbying. Education unions and labor-funded advocates spent $11.77 million, according to the analysis. See also North Country Now: State teachers' union to lead rally in Massena Saturday against Gov. Cuomo.
Tough slog ahead in Congress for No Child rewrite Seattle Times: Murray believes the federal government — which put up $61 billion, or 10 percent, of the cost of educating public elementary and secondary students in fiscal 2012 — has the right to demand accountability from local schools. The federal government, she said recently, “has an important and unique role to play” to ensure quality education, particularly for lower-achieving students. See also EdWeek: House Set to Pass NCLB Rewrite Next Friday.
See more news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).
Here's the Kickstarter promo for the followup to "Race To Nowhere," via The Daily Riff.
Monday's AP story about the coming wave of states and districts administering the Common Core assessments this spring (Ohio Debuts New Digital Standardized Test This Week) has been making the rounds, as AP stories do.
Written in conjunction with the kickoff of Common Core testing this week, the piece includes some useful baseline information, including that by the end of this year 12 million students in 29 states plus DC will have taken the new tests, most of them using computers (75 percent for PARCC and 80-90 percent for SBAC).
But that doesn't mean the story is accurate or fair in terms of how it's shaped -- at least, not according to me.
There's nothing factually incorrect, far as I can tell (though the writers seem to have missed that Chicago officials are reconsidering their initial decision not to administer the assessment citywide).
The main issue I have with the story is that it focuses so much on what's not working, or might not work, or has been controversial in some places -- and leaves out much of what's seeming to go well and so much of what we know about the Common Core testing process from last year's field testing.
By the time you get to the end of the article you might well anticipate that things were about to go very, very badly for this spring's assessments.
But that's not really the case, far as I can tell -- and the AP reporters and editors who worked on the story should have know as much.
I think more and more people have come around to the point of view I expressed a few years ago. -- Starr in NPR talking about his 2012 call for a moratorium on high-stakes testing (Exit Interview With A Nationally Known School Leader)
"Nationally, more than half of board members have served longer than five years in their current district. Board member tenure does not vary significantly with district size, though the medium-large districts are the least likely to have members with less than two years of service." From NSBA 2010. I'm checking to see if there are any more recent statistics.
Teachers union takes first legal step towards strike that could close Los Angeles Unified schools LA Daily News: After seven months and 18 rounds of cantankerous contract talks, Los Angeles Unified administrators and leaders of the district's 35,000-member teachers union finally found common ground Wednesday when United Teachers Los Angeles made its first legally required step toward a strike.
Chicago cancels classes Thursday due to extreme cold WBEZ: According to Chicago Public Schools, its classes are cancelled on Thursday, Feb. 19, due to a forecast that is predicting extreme cold temperatures and winds. See also Washington Post: Anatomy of a school closing: How Fairfax County officials make the call on snow days.
New York Compels 20 School Districts to Lower Barriers to Immigrants NYT: The districts, which were found to be illegally blocking enrollment of undocumented immigrant children, will stop requests to prove residency and train enrollment officials.
Oklahoma May Scrap AP History For Focusing On America's 'Bad Parts' NPR: In Oklahoma, state lawmakers are debating a bill that would axe the teaching of Advanced Placement courses in U.S. history. The reason? Some believe the classes focus too much on what is "bad about America." The bill, which passed easily through a committee this week, outlines what should and shouldn't be taught in the classroom. See also HuffPost.
Same diploma, different school? WBEZ: A WBEZ and Catalyst Chicago analysis of that expansion has found that the district is on a troubling path toward its goal to re-enroll dropouts as it turns to new, largely unproven, mostly online alternative schools to educate more students.
Washington State Panel Mulls Bill to Trim Vaccine Exemptions AP: House committee considers measure to remove 'personal belief' vaccine exemption in Washington.
9 reasons Finland's schools are so much better than America's Vox: Finland might be a popular example because, no matter your general beliefs on education policy, you can find something to back them up. The result turns into a policy wonk buffet — nearly everybody can a policy lesson to learn from Finland's success, or a factor that explains why it isn't replicable in the US. Even if some of those lessons directly contradict each other.
Big thanks to Hanover Research for including me (and several others) in its list of folks to follow in K-12 education. You might find some names and sites you don't already know on this list. And always remember to tweet your story more than once. Guy Kawasaki and others swear by it, and it's sort of fun.