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Video: Tisch Vs. Ravitch On Opting Out (What's Hayes Making Of All This?)

Perhaps the most interesting thing about this segment from Tuesday is watching host Chris Hayes try and make sense of the issues. Tisch and Ravitch basically stick to their talking points and fight to a draw. Along the way Hayes raises the education-poverty question and brings up the comparison to anti-vaxxers. he seems to understand that the issue can be seen as one of individual choice vs. collective need. ("You just destroy the dataset.") At the same time, he describes the movement as a "digital grassroots."

Or, watch NPR's Anya Kamenetz on The Nightly Show, talking about whether college is worth it.

Twitter Friday: News & Commentary Here, On Facebook, & Via Twitter

It's Friday and I'm on the road so I'll be updating the site -- lightly -- via Twitter (which also posts to Facebook and here). See it all below. Have a great weekend!

Afternoon #TBT Video: Homey The Substitute Teacher

It's a Thursday afternoon that feels like a Friday afternoon -- so balmy outside, and such post-ESEA markup euphoria -- so here's a #TBT segment from In Living Color in which Homey D. Clown tries his hand as a substitute teacher:

 

via Grantland: Bragging Rights

Quotes: Why De Blasio Hasn't (Yet) Endorsed Hillary

Quotes2I think progressives all over the country, I think everyday Americans are demanding that their candidates—the President and every other level—really say that we have a plan that we can believe in for addressing income inequality... It has to include increases in wages and benefits. It has to include the willingness to tax the wealthy so we can invest in infrastructure, so we can invest in education.

- NYC Mayor  Bill de Blasio (who's holding off on endorsing Hillary) in the New Yorker (Hillary Clinton and the Democrats’ Inequality Agenda)

 

Pop Culture: Meet "Primary School Problems," One Of The UK's Most Viral Twitter Feeds

The account is one of several run by a group of young entrepreneurs in the UK whose company, Social Chain, regularly takes over social media, according to this BuzzFeed article. Other popular accounts are Exam Problems. The company has been accused of stealing others' content and -- more problematically -- functioning as an advertiser without sufficient disclosure.  

Why should you care? Because your Twitter feed isn't just accidentally filling up with updates about things. Whether advertisers or advocates, the Twitterverse if increasingly filled with folks paid to influence your opinion or make you think things are bigger or smaller than they may be in real life. 

Related posts: New Study Suggests Journalism Being Left Out Of Education Debate12 Observations About EdNext's "Top Twitter Feeds"How Twitter Has Helped & Hurt.

Morning Video: In Iowa, Hillary Clinton Talks Common Core

Yesterday, Hillary Clinton named Ann O'Leary as one of her top policy wonks for the campaign, and I predicted that the candidate might make it until Memorial Day before talking about Common Core. Well, she talked about it yesterday in Iowa, and the good folks at PJ Media's Tatler shared the clip (starts at 5:33), asked by a teacher. “You know when I think about the really unfortunate argument that’s been going on around Common Core, it’s very painful,” she says.

AM News: Testing Snafus In 3 States, Plus NJ Opt-Outs Range From 4 To 15 Percent

Common Core Tests Halted in 3 States Because of Server Issue AP: A problem with a computer server is stopping Common Core testing in Nevada, Montana and North Dakota after a previous technical issue delayed it last month, officials said. See also WSJ: Common Core Testing Optional in Montana.

Montana Lets Schools Cancel Smarter Balanced Testing After Technical Woes State EdWatch: Montana Superintendent Denise Juneau said it would be "in the best interest of our students" to let districts cancel Smarter Balanced testing if necessary.

More Students Opt Out of N.Y. State Exams WSJ: In New Jersey, the average “parental refusal” rate was 4.6% for elementary schools, the state said. The biggest number of opt-outs came in 11th grade, where the combined refusal rate for English language arts and Algebra II was 14.5%.

Senate Committee Makes Progress On Updates To Education Law AP: In all, the committee has passed 24 amendments and defeated six. Dozens more amendments were debated but withdrawn as lawmakers sought to find common ground and leave some of the tougher fights for later.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Testing Snafus In 3 States, Plus NJ Opt-Outs Range From 4 To 15 Percent " »

Thompson: Building on Common Ground

In their joint Huffington Post contribution Is There a Third Way for ESEA?, Linda Darling-Hammond and Paul Hill acknowledge that they are "members of very different 'camps' on school reform," but "we think there is more common ground than has yet been evident in the political process." They drew upon the efforts of two "distinct groups of scholars and policy experts that met separately to rethink educational accountability."

Perhaps the most important point of agreement was Darling-Hammond's and Hill's statement:

We agreed that, because a student's learning in any one year depends on what was learned previously and on the efforts of many professionals working together, the consequences of high and low performance should attach to whole schools, rather than to individual educators.

State and federal governments can provide data and research, as well as systems of support, and can incentivize improvement. But they should not make decisions about how to evaluate individual educators or manage individual schools. 

I just wish they had taken their impeccable logic one step further and applied it to individual students; for the same reasons, a student should not be denied a high school diploma simply because he failed a college-readiness test. 

In my experience, many or most reformers understand that value-added evaluations are a big mistake, but they sometimes are reluctant to openly call for a reversal of that failed policy. Sadly, in my experience, liberal reformers are often more uneasy about separating themselves from this crumbling cornerstone of Arne Duncan's term.

So, when I followed their link to Fordham Foundation's and The Center for Reinventing Education's Designing the Next Generation of State Education Accountability Systems, was only somewhat pleasantly surprised. The CRPE cites their "emerging consensus about state accountability systems providing a light (or lighter) touch on districts and schools." It also acknowledges that the "lack of autonomy forced by consequences can also drive high-performing teachers away from the schools that need them the most."

I was more pleasantly surprised by Robin Lake's Time for Charters to Lead on Special Education.

Continue reading "Thompson: Building on Common Ground" »

Update: Mainstream Coverage Of NY Testing All Over The Place

A few weeks ago, I chided mainstream media outlets for how they covered the New Jersey testing rollout.

Are they doing any better this week, with New York?  

It's a mixed bag, with several outlets yet to show their stuff.

Some of them are doing quite well, treating the story carefully:

The WSJ's Leslie Brody reports that there are pockets of opt-outs but wide variations from one place to another (including just one kid opting out in East Harlem).

Others seem to be focused on making the opt-out numbers seem as big as possible, without bothering to verify numbers (or do much math).

The NY Daily News passes along a 300,000-student estimate of opt outs that is, far as I can tell, just a number a district superintendent pulled out of thin air. The headline for a NY Daily News piece by Rick Hess calls the opt-outs a "tsunami," which seems wildly overstated given what we know at this point. (He's much better in this US News piece about ending the reform wars.) 

Last year, as you may recall, the opt-out number turned out to be only about 70,000 statewide, and the NYC number was less than 2,000.

Lots of folks are missing from the field, so far at least, perhaps because of the lack of any hard numbers to work with:

I haven't seen a NYT story on this yet - perhaps one is in the works. A Kyle Spencer piece that came out before testing started noted that opting out was less common in most parts of the city last year and that even parents who don't agree with the tests struggle to pull kids out.

Some folks are angry about this:

 WNYC did a piece about parents being pressured one way and the other and has done several call-in segments about the pros and cons of opting out, but has yet to produce reporting on the trend.

ChalkbeatNY is aggregating others' coverage but doesn't seem to have reported out any original pieces on this yet this year so far.
 
NY governor Cuomo and NYC's Carmen Farina aren't commenting or providing real-time numbers, creating a vacuum. Governor Cuomo also ratcheted up pressure on the tests this year by calling for 50 percent of teacher evaluations to come from student test score results.
 

Events: More Visuals From Today's Senate NCLB Markup, Please?

Heading into Day 2 of the Senate education committee markup of #EveryChildAchievesAct (aka #ESEA or #FixNCLB), we can't help but wish for a little more Campaign 2016-style coverage by traditional media and everyone else who's there.

We've got near real-time images of Hillary ordering at Chipotle and talking to community college kids in Iowa:

But there have been precious few visuals coming from all the lobbyists, advocates, staffers, and journalists in the Senate markup so far.

Washington Partners' @DellaBCronin was among few who were giving us an inside view of the markup:

The official Republican @GOPHELP account provided an image:

You're at the Coachella of education, and frankly we don't need all of you tweeting the same basic information. Serious or silly (or a little bit of both), what we need is some Twitter pics, maybe a Vine, or even some Periscope/Meerkat. Snap someone's great tie, or shoes.  Make a sleepy colleague (or rival) Twitter-famous for a few minutes. 

Livestream here.

Reality Check: Restorative Justice Not As Easy As It May Seem

Check out this new story from Bright about the realities behind "restorative justice," the approach meant to replace zero-tolerance school discipline policies.

AM News: NY Opt-Out Rates, Senate NCLB Markup, Atlanta Sentencing

Some schools see high opt-out rates The Journal News: In Mahopac, some students were kept home by their parents for the duration of the tests and others, who showed up at school, sat in the cafeteria or ..... See also Daily Journal: New York school districts report varying rates of participation in Common Core testing

Senate panel takes up No Child Left Behind rewrite Washington Post: The Senate education panel began marking up a bipartisan bill to replace No Child Left Behind on Tuesday, with Democrats and Republicans going to great lengths to hold together a delicately crafted consensus around the proposal. 

Atlanta Schools Cheating Case Judge Keeps Word on Sentences AP: True to his word, a judge showed mercy to former Atlanta public school educators who accepted responsibility for their role in a widespread conspiracy to inflate student scores on standardized tests. Those who refused to admit guilt and agree to other conditions set by prosecutors, he treated much more harshly. See also NPR: Educators Sentenced To Jail In Atlanta Cheating Scandal, NYT: Atlanta School Workers Sentenced in Test Score Cheating Case

New Jersey Gov. Christie Distances Himself On Common Core WSJ: Gov. Chris Christie said implementing the Common Core wasn't working in New Jersey and that he will likely address the situation in coming weeks, among his strongest comments on the controversial education standards. See also Politico: Hillary Clinton 2016: The long hot summer that turned her into a politician

'Historic': First Katrina state takeover school returns to New Orleans control |  NOLA.com: A couple of School Board charter groups have taken over failed Recovery charters, but this is the first time a takeover school has chosen to return -- after dozens turned down the opportunity. 

In Classroom Discipline, a Soft Approach Is Harder Than It Looks Bright: Restorative justice has been credited with slowing the “school-to-prison pipeline.” Here’s how to ensure it fulfills that promise.

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

Continue reading "AM News: NY Opt-Out Rates, Senate NCLB Markup, Atlanta Sentencing" »

Quotes: Why Those Cali. Poll Numbers Looked So Bad For Tenure, Seniority

Quotes2This poll happens in a certain context, which is that over the last number of years, there’s been a well-funded, concerted effort to attack teachers’ seniority, to misrepresent it—and to scapegoat teachers for problems in the classroom.

-- Joshua Pechthalt, president of the California Federation of Teachers, in the LA Times (Unions critical of poll on teachers tenure and seniority-based layoffs)

Morning Video: Christo Rey Featured On Al Jazeera

 

Now 28 schools nationwide, Christo Rey has expanded to Baltimore, and has corporate support, but its graduation rate is about average and not all kids thrive there (Cristo Rey: The school corporate America built) via Al Jazeera.

AM News: You Watch The NCLB Markup, I'll Watch The NY Testing Launch

Senate Attempts To Revise No Child Left Behind Measure NPR: A Senate committee begins work on a bill that would overhaul the education law. That measure — once considered a great uniter of politicians on the left and right — has since become a great divider. See also NPR

Parents Get An Earful on Opting Out of the State Tests WNYC: Last year, 1,925 students opted out, according to the city's Department of Education. In 2012, 113 students opted out of the tests, education officials said.

Some Parents Oppose Standardized Testing on Principle, but Not in Practice NYT: Even parents who are uncomfortable with the exams are discovering that it is hard to push the button on the nuclear option — refusing to have their own children take them.

Atlanta Judge Urges Talks on Sentences in School Cheating Case NYT: Judge Jerry W. Baxter said, he thought an appropriate sentence for educators convicted of altering test scores would mean sending them to jail. But then he had a change of heart. See also Washington Post: Judge urges Atlanta educators to accept plea deals in test cheating case.

Marco Rubio's education plan is pretty much like President Obama's Fusion:  and Obama both support the idea of early childhood education. Rubio even said on CBS' Face the Nation that he thinks programs like Head Start, which Obama has championed, are well-intentioned.

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

Continue reading "AM News: You Watch The NCLB Markup, I'll Watch The NY Testing Launch" »

Thompson: My Contribution to Oklahoma Edu-Bloggers' Discussion of Teaching Content

The Tulsa blogger, Blue Cereal, challenged Oklahoma edu-bloggers to describe, in 1200 words or less, our personal beliefs regarding the teaching of content. Here's my contribution: 

Akili (as I will call him) borrowed every issue of my New York Review of Books.  One evening we were shocked to learn that it was past 6:00 and we had been talking for hours.  He had wanted to discuss Herbert Gutman's theory about the black family.  Akili said, "You are the coolest white man I've known.  Here we are having an intellectual discussion.  You respect my brain."

Such experiences taught me that poor students of color respond with pride and with excellence when challenged to meet high and authentic standards.

My approach was consistent with Martin Haberman's critique of The Pedagogy of Poverty. Haberman argued that good teaching for poor children was a "process of drawing out" the power inside students rather than "stuffing in" knowledge. I also saw learning stimulated by "divergent questioning strategies" and culminating in reflective conversations to help students “see major concepts, big ideas, and general principles and ... not [being] merely engaged in the pursuit of isolated facts."

Even in the 1990s, it would have been hard to teach effectively had I not experimented under the cover of "Orientation" during the first weeks of the school year. Administrators wouldn’t demand that teachers immediately rush into teaching the tested subject matter.  They understood the importance of laying a foundation for a successful class.  Teachers were encouraged to heed the wisdom of progressive scholars like Haberman and use the first week of school to get to know their students as individuals.

At the beginning of the year, we could move outside the prescribed curriculum to promote motivation and teamwork. Teachers were told to take two or three days to lay out rules, procedures, and expectations.  We could "break it down" for children, establish relationships, and steer them for success by teaching them to be students. The expectation was that this would be over and done with after a week. I preferred to stretch opportunities for dynamic classroom instruction far past the date when the administration expected us to focus on the curriculum pacing guide.

My first lesson each year initially surprised students who had heard the laughter coming out of my classroom the years before.

Continue reading "Thompson: My Contribution to Oklahoma Edu-Bloggers' Discussion of Teaching Content" »

Morning Video: Arne Duncan's Impenetrable Wall Of Talking Points

Last week, MSNBC's Chris Hayes tried valiantly to get past EdSec Duncan's talking points (Why is Common Core so controversial?) Curmudgucation tears it apart here. At least Duncan now limits his "race-to-the-bottom" claims about NCLB to 20 states.

Already seen it? Watch this Engadget blog post about a new video game, No Pineapple Left Behind. ("You're a principal lording over pineapples, making sure they do amazingly well on standardized tests because that's what begets more funding for your school...")

AM News: Testing Week Begins In New York (This Should Be Fun)

Opting Out of NY State Standardized Tests WNYC:  State standardized tests begin as of April 14th and mark the start of six days of annual exams for New York children in grades three to eight. And we take calls from parents on why they have their kids opt out from the exams.

Al Sharpton an unlikely ally in support of Common Core exams NY Post: Sharpton said a boycott could hurt urban kids and pointed out that neither he nor NAN chapter leaders in upstate cities such as Buffalo and Syracuse were consulted about the opt-out campaign.

5 percent of Portland Public Schools students opt out of Common Core tests Oregon Live: As of Wednesday, about 1,200 of the district's approximately 25,000 test-takers have submitted exemption forms.

Paul touts education issues in public, not on Hill Politico: Paul has sat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee since 2011 and is co-chairman of its subcommittee on children and families, but he seldom attends committee hearings or works on the daily grind of writing letters or authoring bills. Paul did not attend any of the five education hearings held by the committee this year, a POLITICO review has found.

NEA: No Child Left Behind rewrite doesn’t level the playing field Washington Post: The head of the country’s largest teachers union said that her organization does not support a bipartisan proposal in the Senate to replace the nation’s main federal education law because it does not go far enough to create equal educational opportunities for poor children.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Testing Week Begins In New York (This Should Be Fun)" »

Pop Culture: The Middle School Teacher Who Played "Unhittable Sidd Finch"

Screenshot 2015-04-10 16.27.12
Thirty years ago this month, Sports Illustrated pulled off one of the biggest media hoaxes imaginable at the time, presenting a long feature story by George Plimpton about a mysterious buddhist with a 168 mph fastball who was going to propel the Mets to World Series success. As revisited in this ESPN documentary short (Sidd Finch and the Tibetan Fastball), the man who played the mysterious pitcher was actually a middle school teacher from Chicago named Joe Berton. The explanation starts here.

EdTech: Here Come the Chromebooks

ScreenHunter_02 Apr. 10 09.47
One more thing about tablets: Here Come the Chromebooks.  This story from Scholastic Administrator (site sponsor) and Michelle Davis describes how Chromebook sales have skyrocketed in recent months even as tablet sales and uses have come under pressure. Check it out!

Quotes: Thinking You're Part Of The 99 Percent Might Make You Part Of The Problem

Quotes2Don't consider yourself part of the 99 percent if you live near a Whole Foods. If no relative of yours serves in the military; If you’re paid by the year, not the hour; If no one you know uses meth... If any or all of these things describe you, then accept the possibility that, actually, you may not know what’s going on, and you may be part of the problem. -- Anand Giridharadas (7 signs you are clueless about income inequality)

Morning Video: You Might Already Understand Common Core Math More Than You Think

Thanks to this handy Vox video, I think I just realized that my 1970's Montessori education taught me Common Core's infamous "number sense." (Common Core math, explained in 3 minutes).  Check it out.  Or, watch this PBS NewsHour segment about campus design balancing learning and safety (including cool overhead [drone?] footage).

AM News: Florida Sets New Limits On Its Testing Regimen

After Backlash, Florida Puts Limits on Standardized Testing AP: The changes, though not as wide as critics wanted, still represent a departure for Republicans who had fully embraced the reforms championed by Bush during his eight years in office. Bush is touting his reforms in what appears to be a likely presidential campaign. See also State EdWatch: Florida Votes to Cut Tests, Lower Exams' Weight in Teacher Evaluations.

New York teachers hate the idea of outsiders evaluating them. Here’s what happened when D.C. tried it. Hechinger Report: Similar consultants have already evaluated teachers in a handful of other places across the country, including Toledo, Ohio; Montgomery County, Maryland; and, perhaps most notably, Washington, D.C.

State Supreme Court: LAUSD must recalculate charter classroom needs KPCC: The court agreed with LAUSD that classrooms provided for adult education or preschool can be excluded from calculating K-12 class-size average, but it declined to clarify if other school spaces, such as supply rooms, should be used. So while the ruling clarifies how space for charters must be calculated, final numbers from the districts will determine whether charters get any extra real estate or lose ground.

School Discipline: When Local Police Call the Shots WNYC: An investigation from the Center for Public Integrity finds that schools refer racial minorities and students with disabilities to police at rates much higher than their white peers.

Duncan wants new law to include early childhood education, state oversight Washington Post: On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the nation’s main federal education law, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Thursday that Congress needs to craft a modern version that stays true to the law’s intent: to create equal educational opportunity for all children.

Emanuel Acknowledges Challenges in 2nd Chicago Mayoral Term AP: His administration now must negotiate a new contract with the Chicago Teachers Union. Its president, Karen Lewis, considered challenging Emanuel but helped recruit Garcia to run after she was diagnosed with cancer. The last round of talks between Emanuel and the union led to Chicago's first teachers strike in 25 years. Tensions deepened the following year in 2013 when Emanuel pushed to close dozens of neighborhood schools.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Florida Sets New Limits On Its Testing Regimen" »

AM New: Florida Sets New Limits On Its Testing Regimen

After Backlash, Florida Puts Limits on Standardized Testing AP: The changes, though not as wide as critics wanted, still represent a departure for Republicans who had fully embraced the reforms championed by Bush during his eight years in office. Bush is touting his reforms in what appears to be a likely presidential campaign. See also State EdWatch: Florida Votes to Cut Tests, Lower Exams' Weight in Teacher Evaluations.

New York teachers hate the idea of outsiders evaluating them. Here’s what happened when D.C. tried it. Hechinger Report: Similar consultants have already evaluated teachers in a handful of other places across the country, including Toledo, Ohio; Montgomery County, Maryland; and, perhaps most notably, Washington, D.C.

State Supreme Court: LAUSD must recalculate charter classroom needs KPCC: The court agreed with LAUSD that classrooms provided for adult education or preschool can be excluded from calculating K-12 class-size average, but it declined to clarify if other school spaces, such as supply rooms, should be used. So while the ruling clarifies how space for charters must be calculated, final numbers from the districts will determine whether charters get any extra real estate or lose ground.

School Discipline: When Local Police Call the Shots WNYC: An investigation from the Center for Public Integrity finds that schools refer racial minorities and students with disabilities to police at rates much higher than their white peers.

Duncan wants new law to include early childhood education, state oversight Washington Post: On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the nation’s main federal education law, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Thursday that Congress needs to craft a modern version that stays true to the law’s intent: to create equal educational opportunity for all children.

Emanuel Acknowledges Challenges in 2nd Chicago Mayoral Term AP: His administration now must negotiate a new contract with the Chicago Teachers Union. Its president, Karen Lewis, considered challenging Emanuel but helped recruit Garcia to run after she was diagnosed with cancer. The last round of talks between Emanuel and the union led to Chicago's first teachers strike in 25 years. Tensions deepened the following year in 2013 when Emanuel pushed to close dozens of neighborhood schools.

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

Continue reading "AM New: Florida Sets New Limits On Its Testing Regimen" »

#TBT: Looking Back At This 2010 "Funny Or Die" Budget Cuts Video

Way back in 2010, Funny Of Die did a video about budget cuts and overcrowded classrooms featuring Megan Fox and Brian Austin Green. Seems like much longer than 5 years ago, doesn't it?

Thompson: Micromanaging Other Peoples' Classrooms

Educator Jessica Waters, in “Results Matter More than Practice,” replied to my Education Post contribution,  “A Teacher Proposes a Different Framework for Accountability,” with the claim that teachers should be evaluated by student “outputs.” She made no effort to address the most likely scenario where the use of test scores for teacher evaluation prompts even more destructive teach-to-the-test rote instruction and further increases the exodus of teaching talent from schools where it is harder to raise test scores. 

In a longer piece (that I still hope the Education Post will publish), I argue that the willingness of supporters of high stakes testing to ignore a large body of social science has especially damaged poor children of color. This post will address Waters' stubborn demand that all states and schools comply with the same one-size-fits-all federal mandates for using tests to punish students and teachers.

Waters cites positive experiences with an elementary school with an eight to one student teacher ratio, and which seems to have far more resources than any schools I know. It is only 83% low-income.  Less than 10% of my district's elementary schools and none of our neighborhood secondary schools have such low numbers of poor students.

Also, Water's state of Rhode Island spends nearly $15,000 per student. She should accept the burden of proof before insisting that my state, which spends nearly $7,000 per student less than that, must divert our scarce financial and human resources from science-based pre-kindergarten investments, for instance, to high stakes testing.  

I had argued that data-driven accountability makes "the juking of the stats the #1 priority." But, "federal and state governments should encourage collaboration and experimentation in data-informed accountability. It could borrow from data-driven crime fighting to use metrics to identify 'hot spots' of schools, systems, or other areas that need additional patrols, or other forms of oversight."

Waters ignored my critique of data-driven oversight and said that her state already uses data to pinpoint areas that need further oversight. If that is the case, congratulations are in order for her state, but that reinforces my point. Waters should walk awhile in the shoes of educators who face different and, almost certainly, far greater problems before micromanaging the rest of us.

Continue reading "Thompson: Micromanaging Other Peoples' Classrooms" »

Journalism: Unsolicited Observations On Bloomberg's Amplify Takedown

News Corp.’s  1 Billion Plan to Overhaul Education Is Riddled With Failures   Bloomberg BusinessAbove: Correction appended to Bloomberg News story about Amplify.

Bloomberg News' latest story on Amplify is enough to give us all pause to reconsider the enthusiasm (hype?) surrounding edtech in general and tablets in particular -- even if it wasn't following Bright's recent article on blended learning (also skeptical) earlier this week. GSV+ASU Summit, were you listening?

For example, the Bloomberg article (by Laura Colby) reminds us that it'll be 7 more years before schools all have high-speed Internet. And, as of last year, instructional materials in print still sell more than twice as much as digital materials. 

But the Bloomberg article has some issues, both factual and rhetorical,which raise questions about the accuracy of the picture readers get of Amplify in the spring of 2015 and remind me of the seemingly prevalent trend in education journalism towards decontextualized fault-finding that's almost as annoying as the "gee, whiz!" coverage from five and ten years ago. 

I'll lay it all out below.

Continue reading "Journalism: Unsolicited Observations On Bloomberg's Amplify Takedown" »

Morning Video: This Is What An Opt-Out Protest Looks Like

Watch some Westchester County (NY) parents, teachers, and kids protest against testing above (click the link if the video isn't rendering properly, or read more about the event here). Or watch a DC school get ready for them (via PBS NewsHour) below:

Continue reading "Morning Video: This Is What An Opt-Out Protest Looks Like" »

AM News: Thursday Hodgeppodge

How an underperforming school rallied to turn around test scores and conquer the Common Core PBS NewsHour: It’s pep rally day at Jefferson Middle School in Washington, D.C. There are prizes and gift certificates and lots of cheering, all meant to get children psyched about the high-stakes tests they’re about to take. Sixth grader Nazar Harper says it works.

Panel approves $1b allocation for Common Core SI&A Cabinet Report: A proposal adding $1 billion in state support for schools transitioning to Common Core State Standards won easy passage Wednesday from a key legislative committee.

Take a look inside the 600-page rewrite of No Child Left Behind Washington Post: The bipartisan bill to replace No Child Left Behind that was crafted after months of negotiations between Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) would end federal high-stakes testing and grant more power to states to decide what to do about struggling schools and how or whether to evaluate teachers.

Senate’s effort to rewrite NCLB sparks cautious optimism Washington Post: Just about everyone with a stake in public education is weighing in on the Senate’s bipartisan effort to rewrite the nation’s main education law. And while there’s no consensus, a wide range of groups and people are exhibiting cautious optimism that the draft bill released Tuesday could be the first step toward reaching a bipartisan deal in an otherwise gridlocked Congress.

Teachers union starts legal battle to unionize L.A.'s largest charter school group LA Daily News: United Teachers Los Angeles has brought its fight to unionize the city's largest charter school organization to the state's top labor authority.

Teachers sue to join union without paying for political activities Los Angeles Times: An advocacy group has filed a lawsuit seeking to stop teachers unions in California from using member dues for political purposes unless individual instructors provide their permission. 

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

Continue reading "AM News: Thursday Hodgeppodge" »

Charts: Education Wages Not Climbing As Fast As Low- & Higher-Wage Sectors

Why Are Wages Growing Slowly Despite McDonald’s  Wal Mart Raises    Real Time Economics   WSJWages for education (and health services) workers went up just 1.9 percent over the past year, less than the national average.  Why's that? "Low-wage workers are earning more. Leisure and hospitality employees, mainly restaurant workers, saw a 3.6% hourly pay increase over the past year.... Higher-skilled workers are also doing well.... Several big employment sectors [including education] are being left out of better pay."  Via WSJ (Why Are Wages Growing Slowly Despite McDonald’s, Wal-Mart Raises?)

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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.