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5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Hey, Let's All Publish School Stories On The Same Day!

So many school stories on the first day of a new year -- some of them good, many pro forma, very few breaking through #edjourn

Skipping School Correlates With Low Test Scores But Cracking Down on Truancy May Not Solve The Problem- @ewaemily http://ow.ly/AZOxL 

Lawsuits, snafus, delays, and unchanged outcomes snag early teacher rating efforts, reports @caitlinzemma http://ow.ly/B0ddD 

CPS outpaces charter schools in improvements, especially in reading - Chicago Sun-Times http://ow.ly/AZjOL 

Why Do Americans Love to Blame Teachers? - The Atlantic @hoodedu http://ow.ly/AZOqB 

NPR's Ominous "The End Of Neighborhood Schools" in NOLA http://ow.ly/B07wu  But isn't that what Cambridge, MA has?

Boston principals hire own teachers & leave 110 veterans out - "wasting" $10M - The Boston Globe http://ow.ly/AZi8p  via @annenberginst

Quotes: Surrounding Poor Kids With High-Achieving Adults

Quotes2There were very few adults around me who’d been great students and were subsequently rewarded for their studiousness. I mostly thought of school as a place one goes so as not to be eventually killed, drugged, or jailed. - The Atlantic's Ta-Nehesi Coates (Acting French)

Advocacy: New Reform Group To Counter Relentless Criticism

image from educationpost.orgThe Washington Post has a story about Peter Cunningham's new education group (Education Post aims to take the sting out of national conversations about school reform) that hints at but doesn't quite get to the real story behind the organization.

Described as "a nonprofit group that plans to launch Tuesday with the aim of encouraging a more “respectful” and fact-based national discussion about the challenges of public education, and possible solutions," the $12 million Chicago-based organization (Cunningham, Mike Vaughn, etc.) is funded by Broad, Bloomberg, and Walton, among others.  

It's an obvious (and long-needed) attempt to address the insufficiencies of the reform movement when it comes to shaping the education debate -- the reform version of Parents Across America or the Network for Public Education or Sabrina Stevens' group (though I haven't heard much from them lately).

The purely communication-oriented outfit ((RSS FeedTwitter) is led by longtime Arne Duncan guy Cunningham and including blogger Citizen Stewart. A sampling of their blog posts (Public Education Needs a New ConversationSpeak Up, Don’t Give UpThe Right School for My ChildThe Common Sense Behind Common Core 

Versions of Education Post have been discussed for a while now, online and in the real world.  A version of the same idea almost came to being 18 months ago, tentatively called "The Hub." Why another group? Advocacy groups get embroiled in pushing for changes, and lack time and resources to coordinate among each other or to focus on communications. They barely have time or capacity to defend themselves, much less put out a positive agenda across multiple groups.  

Meantime, a small but dedicated group of reform critics and groups(many of them union-funded or - affiliated) has managed to embed themselves in the minds of reporters and generate an enormous amount of resistance to reform measures. 

Related posts: Reform Opponents Are Winning Online (For Now)Rapid Response in Connecticut.

Morning Video: Teaching Kids To Build Things (Not Apps)

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

AM News: Oklahoma Loses NCLB Waiver Over Common Core Retreat

50-State Look at How Common Core Playing out in US AP: The Alabama state school board folded Common Core into the state's College and Career Ready Standards for public schools and has been defending the decision ever since.

Oklahoma Loses Waiver From No Child Left Behind Provisions NYT: The move comes as a result of the state’s retreat from Common Core, a set of reading and math standards adopted by more than 40 states.

Push To Revamp Federal Testing Requirements Unlikely To Gain Traction WAMU: Local lawmakers on both sides of the aisle would like to see changes to federal laws mandating standardized testing, but legislation is unlikely before the midterm elections.

California schools chief to appeal ruling striking down teacher tenure AP: Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson says the ruling by a Los Angeles judge isn't supported by facts or the law and says it unfairly blames teachers for flaws in the education system. His opponent in the November race, Marshall Tuck, says Torlakson isn't sticking up for students. See also TeacherBeatEdSource Today.

Summer school motivates college dreams for middle school students PBS NewsHour:  This unusual start to a day is actually quite normal for a program called Breakthrough, a unique summer program with the sole focus of showing low-income, under-resourced middle school students how to get to college.

More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).

Continue reading "AM News: Oklahoma Loses NCLB Waiver Over Common Core Retreat" »

Labor Day Weekend: Safe Travels, Everyone

20140824_142128I'm off for a couple of days -- as are you, perhaps, if you're not getting ready for the first day of class.  Have a fun and safe weekend.  See you in September.

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Don't Expect Much - It's The Thursday Before Labor Day Weekend

Governor Jindal is a [Legal] Troll | EdCentral ow.ly/APrXV@l tepe 

Teacher unions ought to ease up on the gas — @njleftbehind - NewsWorks ow.ly/AQ7YB

5 @greendot [unionized charter] schools make Daily Beast/Newsweek top HS in the nation list ow.ly/APxGU

Ferguson area teachers given directives on how to talk about Michael Brown | Al Jazeera America ow.ly/APrPg

A Simple Education App [Remind] May Reach The Top Of The App Store Charts ow.ly/APpkq

More Research On Precisely What Works for English Language Learners | EdCentral ow.ly/APrRY

Teenagers Favor Tech Over Clothes - NYT ow.ly/AQ8gn "The conversation always circles back to the iPhone 6"

 

Maps: Most White Kids Still Attend Majority-White Schools

  image from cdn1.vox-cdn.com

"Even as students become more diverse, many are attending classes with other kids who look like them," notes Vox's Libby Nelson (3 maps that show school segregation in the US).

Lunchtime Video: FLA School District Opts Out Of Testing

Via FairTest and Diane Ravitch.  Is this really the first time this has ever happened?

AM News: Teacher Job Protection Lawsuits Likely To Be Merged In NY

Campbell Brown teacher tenure lawsuit likely to combine with NY group's case Washington Post: Lawyers in New York working with former CNN anchor Campbell Brown on a legal challenge of teacher tenure have agreed to consolidate their case with an earlier complaint filed by a group of public school parents that also seeks to change job protections for teachers.

School Districts Praise Ed. Secretary for Recognizing Over-Reliance on Testing District Dossier: The Large Countywide and Suburban District Consortium, which represents 16 districts across the country, applauded Education Secretary Arne Duncan's recent statement that there is too much focus on standardized testing in the nation's schools.

Arne Duncan to Head South for Annual Back-to-School Bus Tour PK12: This year's trip, scheduled for Monday, Sept. 8, to Wednesday, Sept. 10, will take the secretary and senior department officials to schools in Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee.

Head Start grantees flagged for quality concerns state-by-state Washington Post: So far, about 360 of the nation’s 1,700 Head Start grantees have been required to compete for new funds, according to government data.

Comptroller, NYC Mayor Face Off on Pre-K Readiness WNYC: He said the mayor’s office is late to submit contracts with pre-k providers for his approval — he’s reviewed 141 contracts, out of more than 500, or about 28 percent. Without the contracts, he said he can’t check for fraud and corruption and ensure classroom safety.

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: US Little League Champs Mostly Attend Charters, Magnets

25 High Schools "Doing the Most With the Least" - includes Noble Street - The Daily Beast ow.ly/ANgzm

Jindal Sues Feds over Common Core ow.ly/ANyFw & Receives Renewed Support For Voucher Program ow.ly/ANyBe

Can @DrDeasyLAUSD survive the iPad fiasco? - LA Times ow.ly/ANy0M

Jay Matthews: Big charter change seen in 2 D.C. schools - The Washington Post ow.ly/3pfiSJ @HalleyTCF @RickKahlenberg

Theme park law keeps VA schools from opening until after labor day, reports Washingtonian http://ow.ly/AKEoP  @brfreed Other states?

Most of Chicago's Little League Champs attend magnet or charter schools, reports ABC News http://ow.ly/AMc2L 

Morning Video: Teaching Computer Literacy - Without A Computer

Via Hechinger Report's Annie Murphy Paul.

Books: "Smarter" Charters Are Diverse, Teacher-Led

image from tcf.orgI've long been fascinated by charter innovations (unionized, zoned, diverse, progressive) that blur the lines between charters and district schools and so you can imagine how excited I am to hear about A Smarter Charter (pictured), a new book from the Century Foundation's Richard Kahlenberg and Halley Potter, which focuses in particular on charters like City Neighbors Charter School in Baltimore and Morris Jeff Community School in New Orleans that emphasize teacher voice and/or socioeconomic integration.

The book isn't out until September 12 but you can get a taste of the book's approach by checking out some recent blog posts: 

*Big Lessons on Charter School from the Smallest State (about Blackstone Valley Prep, among other things).

*Diverse Charter School Opens in Nashville (about Valor).

*Thin Contracts Can Provide a Good Balance (about Amber).

The book has received positive reviews (blurbs) from the AFT's Randi Weingarten and NEA's Dennis Van Roekel, as well as AEI's Rick Hess and NYC's Jim Merriman.

Related posts:  Diverse Charters Form New National Alliance;  Diverse Charters Spread Nationally (Education Next); Chicago A Charter Unionization Hotbed; Thin Contract At Locke High School. Image via TCF.

AM News: New Year, New iPad Plan For LAUSD

Calls grow for wider inquiry into bidding on L.A. Unified iPad project LA Times: A day after Los Angeles Unified abruptly suspended the contract for its controversial iPad project, there were growing calls for a more thorough investigation into whether the bidding process for the $1-billion program was improperly handled.

The LA School iPad Scandal: What You Need To Know KPCC: The Los Angeles Unified School District has shut down a half-a-billion-dollar deal with Apple and Pearson to provide classroom technology. Here's what happened.

LIVESTREAM: First LAUSD school board meeting of the year LA School Report

Primary Round-Up: Races Across the Country Showcase Education Issues EdWeek: High-profile governor and state education chief races in Arizona, Florida, Oklahoma, and Vermont highlight the common core and education funding as top campaign issues.

Despite Racial Disparity, Alumni Group Backs Test-Only Policy for Elite Schools NYT: Very few black and Hispanic students attend New York City’s eight specialized high schools, which base admissions solely on the results of a standardized test.

Teaching computer science — without touching a computer Hechinger:  It may not look like it, but the children engaged in these exercises are learning computer science. In the first activity, they’ve turned themselves into a sorting network: a strategy computers use to sort random numbers into order. And in the second activity, they’re acting out the process by which computer networks route information to its intended destination.

Youth seek solutions as Chicago’s violent summer persists PBS NewsHour:  Nine-year-old Antonio Smith was fatally shot at least four times in a South Side backyard just blocks away from his home, according to the Chicago Tribune.  This real-time map, created by Chicago-Sun Times before the the summer began, pinpoints and identifies every shooting recorded during each weekend, the most violent period of time.

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Best/Worst Common Core Defense Ever?

"Gadflies' latest attacks on New York's Common Core exams are the most ignorant yet." Oped in the NYDN ow.ly/AK5PL 

Great story from Chicago Tribune's @lollybowean about what happened to some of @UrbanPrep's 2010 grads ow.ly/AK4dA

New Teachers College book on #diversecharters (among other things) coming out next week: A Smarter Charter http://ow.ly/3p7GPS 

The problem isn't tenure, writes David B. Cohen in @valeriestrauss' The Answer Sheet http://ow.ly/AJrGz  It's, er, something else.

 Four years ago, the case for teacher cams was already being made by @MichaelPetrilli   educationnext.org/lights-camera-…#teachercams

Today's college freshman were in kindergarten when 9/11 happened & other tdibts via @libbyanelson ow.ly/AKqmx [beneath Vox, but it's a late August week and I obviously have no standards].

John Thompson: Hechinger Report Explains the Reagan Roots of Obama Reform Efforts

NationatriskMany or most problems in urban education are rooted in Ronald Reagan’s “Voodoo Economics.” Yes, schools declined after the 1973 Energy Crisis started the deindustrialization of America. But, Reagan’s “Supply Side Economics” accelerated the tragedy by offering tax incentives for closing still-profitable factories. Families cratered in the face of the subsidized and rapid destruction of jobs, erasing so many hopes.

The implicit message of Sarah Garland’s Hechinger Report, Why Is a Reagan-Era Report Driving Today’s Education Reform?, is that the failure to improve schools is also rooted in Reaganism.

Garland notes, “the Republican-driven revolution is being driven home, as never before, by a Democratic president.” She recalls that many of the proposals in Obama’s RttT and  SIG programs seem to be “copied right out of the 1983 report [Reagan’s A Nation at Risk.]

Garland begins by linking the dubious policy of value-added evaluations with A Nation of Risk. I would gladly lay the blame for today’s testing mania on Reagan, but in the only weak part of her thought-provoking piece, I don’t think she nailed down the case for such a linkage. Clearly, however, Garland is correct in her observation, “the Obama administration appears to be doubling down on the standardized testing that critics say was a misinterpretation of A Nation at Risk.”

Similarly, Garland illustrates the test and punish mentality when quoting Chester Finn. Finn supports testing for teacher and student accountability because, “If there’s no sanction or punishment for not learning, then why work harder to learn more?”

I wonder if there is a reason, besides avoiding pain, why human beings might teach and learn?

Continue reading "John Thompson: Hechinger Report Explains the Reagan Roots of Obama Reform Efforts" »

Numbers: 27 State New Ed Reform Groups In 5 Years

Over the past five years, national K-12 advocacy organizations created 27 state affiliates, according to a May 2014 report  quoted in EdWeek (Leadership, Political Winds Buffet Education Advocacy Groups).  

That's up from 8 such groups created in the decade 1997-2007. 

You can read the report here.

I've asked them for updated figures, since some of the affiliates have closed up shop and others have opened since then.

Quotes: No, Transparency *Won't* Fix Things All By Itself

Quotes2When government seems to fail, Americans habitually resort to the same solutions: more process, more transparency, more appeals to courts. -- David Frum in The Atlantic (The Transparency Trap)

Morning Video: College Dispenses With Courses -- Should K12 Schools Follow?

 

"College for America, an online degree program, has no classes, professors or credit hours. It's been cited as an innovative way to make college more affordable. But how do its students qualify for a degree?" (Via PBS NewsHour).  The idea might sound crazy or not work at scale, but then again traditional colleges aren't doing any better at graduating poor minorities and are resisting government ratings showing how well they perform, so maybe it's time for some changes.

AM News: LAUSD Declares IPad Contract "Do-Over"

 LA schools cancel iPad contracts after KPCC publishes internal emails KPCC: Three days after KPCC published internal emails showing top L.A. Unified officials and executives from Pearson and Apple met and discussed bringing tablet-driven education software to the classroom, the school district announced Monday it will cancel the contract with Apple and Pearson and open its one-to-one technology project to new bids.

Rick Scott Unveils New Education Initiatives To Calm Common Core Critics Reuters: Florida's Republican governor, Rick Scott, unveiled two new education initiatives on Monday aimed at calming critics of "common core" national curriculum standards and countering his main Democratic rival's attacks on his record.

D.C. Extends Day At 25 Schools, Hoping That More Time Means Better Scores WAMU: Students at 25 D.C. public schools will stay in school longer every day, a move that city officials hope will help struggling students catch up with their peers.

Ferguson schools reopen, offer calm amid chaos AP: Schools in Ferguson welcomed back students from their summer breaks on Monday, providing the children with a much-needed break from the raucous street protests and police patrols that have gripped the St. Louis suburb since a white officer killed an unarmed black man more than two weeks ago.

Generation Later, Poor Are Still Rare at Elite Colleges NYT: A series of federal surveys of selective colleges found virtually no change from the 1990s to 2012 in enrollment of students who are less well off — less than 15 percent by some measures — even though there was a huge increase over that time in the number of such students going to college.

Turnitin And The Debate Over Anti-Plagiarism Software NPR: One company and its algorithms are changing the way America's schools handle classroom ethics.

Is Google's Free Software A Good Deal For Educators? NPR: Classroom enables a teacher to create a "class" at the touch of a button. She or he can upload syllabus materials, whether text, audio, or video, and send out assignments on the class news feed.

 More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).

Continue reading "AM News: LAUSD Declares IPad Contract "Do-Over"" »

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Hey, Everybody -- Let's Put Cameras On Teachers, Too!

The case for cop AND teacher cams - Chicago Tribune ( Reihan Salam) ow.ly/AHgIY

Reform advocacy groups like DFER & Stand evolving strategies, reports EdWeek's @AndrewUjifusa ow.ly/AHiHg

Why DFER's staying out of Tuck/Torlakson (and Vergara, too), via @AndrewUjifusa ow.ly/AHjk1

New Orleans' charter school system ill-prepared for jump in Central American immigrants | NOLA.comow.ly/AGFNs

Sometimes the school down the block makes you nervous - The Post reposts Jay Mathews' 2000 columnow.ly/AHxUv via @EducationNext

Two Spencer Fellow books reviewed in same edition of the NYT -- including one written by a 3rd Spencer 

Students Aren't Getting Enough Sleep—School Starts Too Early - The Atlantic ow.ly/AHff7

All this and more at @alexanderrusso.

 

Philanthropy: Case Studies Of 100 Grant-Funded Efforts (1900-2000)

Doing some research on foundation-funded education efforts (and still looking for an apples-to-apples comparison to the Ford era to the Gates era) this interesting collection of cases was recommended to me by Stanford's Rob Reich (Casebook for The Foundation: A Great American Secret).  

It's 100 case studies focused on specific grant-funded efforts from 1900 to 2000. Some of the most interesting recent ones include: Charter Schools Funding: Walton Family Foundation, 1991Youth Development Program: Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, 1999Talented Students in the Arts Initiative: The Surdna Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, 2000A Model for the New Inner-City School: KIPP Academies: Pisces Foundation, 2000. But there are lots of others.  

Anyone seen case studies of more recent grant-funded efforts (say, since 2005)? As you know, I think it can be fascinating to look back and examine efforts like these, however they turned out. These cases aren't comprehensive -- some are quite short -- but the approach is appealing.  It also reminds us that the Gates era is just the most recent one, and that previous efforts have struggled with impact and in some cases been wrong-headed, too.

Quotes: Why Unions Attack Obama Proxies For Reform Efforts

Quotes2Asking teachers to choose between Obama and the union line runs the risk that many teachers will decide the union is wrong. - Jonathan Chait in NY Magazine (The Proxy Fight for the Democratic Party Future)

AM News: Districts Brace For Unaccompanied Minors

D.C. Area Schools Braced For Influx Of Unaccompanied Minors WAMU: Schools across the D.C. area are returning to the classroom this week, and hundreds of unaccompanied minors will be counted among their ranks, bringing their own unique challenges to school systems.

‘The Teacher Wars,’ Dana Goldstein’s History of Education NYTL The journalist Dana Goldstein’s “The Teacher Wars” serves up historical commentary instead of a searing philippic on one of the day’s hot-button issues: the role of teaching in America.

LA schools iPad project: How it started ... before the bidding began KPCC: Superintendent John Deasy was a year into his tenure at the Los Angeles Unified School District when he started talking to the largest publishing company in the world, Pearson PLC, about working together on a digital transformation in public education.

On Turning Around a Troubled School: "Make Kids Feel Special" WNYC: A middle school principal explains how he turned around one of the most violent schools in New York City by establishing order and making his students feel special.

As city seeks out new pre-K teachers, a training challenge grows ChalkbeatNY: Emma Markarian, now a pre-kindergarten teacher in the city, was surprised to find herself leading an abbreviated course on child development in June to aspiring pre-K teachers who hoped to lead their own classrooms this fall — with only three months of training under their belts.

Lewis talks about Emanuel but avoids his name Chicago Tribune: Parents of schoolchildren need to shoulder more of the financial burden of funding the Chicago Public Schools. After all, homeowners who use.

More education news throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

Update: Alexander's Annual Summer Road Trip

2012-01-06_14-16-45_888I'm going on my annual road trip to Boston and thereabouts, so I'll be updating the site -- very lightly -- via Twitter (which also posts to Facebook and here).

See it all below. Or, go to Politico, RealClear Education, Huffington Post, or Annenberg for your daily morning news roundup.

Have a great week!

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Google Wants Kids To Have GMail (Apparently Unaware That Kids Don't Use Email Anymore)

The Trouble With Tenure - Frank Bruni feat. Mike Johnston in the NYTimes.com ow.ly/AuAHO

Obama Waivers Add Fuel to Lawsuit Bid - @PoliticsK12 ow.ly/AuS0p

Common Core for Young Learners Educators tackle challenges in the early grades ow.ly/AuHJO

Google May Start Handing Out Gmail Accounts to Kids - The Wire ow.ly/AuQ9u But how to do so without violating COPPA?

Nonwhite student body is now the majority, but most white students won't know (because neighborhood assignment) - Vox ow.ly/AuSWz

Gates touts teacher tools ow.ly/AuKcr feat. BetterLesson, ThinkCERCA, LightSail, FineTune, Edmodo, BloomBoard

Longest trial in SC history focuses on education | @ajam @Warbelle ow.ly/AuSkK

The Los Angeles Unified School District ducks out of trigger law, cites federal waiver | Deseret News ow.ly/AuLAe

 

EdTech: 8 Ways to Protect Student Data

image from hepg.orgMy latest "Tech Talk" piece in the Harvard Education Letter is now online, and -- thanks to critics and advocates and regular old practitioners who filled me in -- it's got what seems like some extremely useful advice about how educators can proceed explore education technology without either locking everything down or giving it all away.

The first couple of items in the piece (Eight Ways to Protect Student Data) include basics like inventorying student data collection that's going on already and putting someone in charge of student data policies (a "privacy" officer or someone with those responsibilities).  

For the remaining 6 recommendations, click the link.

Image courtesy Harvard Education Publishing Group.

 

 

Media: 3 Newish Places To Get Public Radio Stories (Plus NPR Controversy)

Finding great public radio content online is getting easier and easier, thanks to there being more of it available in more places.  

This recent Poynter article touts a new streaming (think Pandora) service (NPR One app potential is huge) out of the national NPR shop plus six big local stations.  I've tried it a little and it's OK but not my favorite (yet).

There's also the WNYC "Discover" app, which lets you pick some categories of story that you like (both local to New York City and national) and download them before you get on the subway or into your bunker as the case may be.  There's more and more WiFi on subway platforms, but still not much by way of service in between stations.  The key is remembering to download the material ahead of time (and finding it once you have).

However, I'm still a big fan of the basic NPR News app, in large part because it lets me livesream whatever station I want to listen to, and also allows me to listen via program -- catching up on All Things Considered, for example -- after hours or even the next day.  For any given program, just hit "Add All To Playlist" and - boom! -- it's all there.)

I'm not sure if that's technically considered a podcast or not -- some of these distinctions are lost on me -- but I know that I like being able to go back and hear the most recent version of a show I missed if I was out, or busy, or napping, or whatever.  That they're mobile is great, but I must admit that a lot of the time I'm listening to them sitting at my desk or in front of a laptop.

Last but not least, since my policy is that no post should lack at least a smidgen of controversy, check out Peter Cook's critique of NPR's recent New Orleans charter schools piece, which contained not only a big error that had to be corrected on air but also a few other wiggly aspects.   Early on, NPR's education team was sometimes accused of being pro-reform because it's funded by some pro-reform foundations.  In Cook's piece, he raises the question whether it (or its newsroom) lean the other way.

Quotes: Union's Confounding Positions On Common Core Assessments

Quotes2It's like saying you're for interstellar travel but against warp drive.

- NYCAN's Derrell Bradford via Facebook on NEA Common Core position(s) -- see full quote below.

Continue reading "Quotes: Union's Confounding Positions On Common Core Assessments" »

Morning Video: "Teacher-Led" Schools Increase Retention (But Not Test Scores)

On last night's PBS NewsHour, John Tulenko took us to Mission Hill in Boston, where teacher retention is high (but test scores aren't -- at leats not so far). There are roughly 70 of these consensus-run schools nationwide.

 

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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.