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Events: 6 Ways To Diversify That Conference Or Panel (ie, "Pass The Mic")*

This year's education conferences seem like they're doing better and better modeling diversity and finding new & authentic voices to talk about education, but there's still lots of room for additional improvement.

So here are some ideas to help -- or maybe you've got better ones to suggest?

6 -- If you're organizing a conference or panel, make sure you include a variety of perspectives and backgrounds when you're picking speakers, even if it means reaching out to new connections or recruiting new participants. #Wetried is not enough.

5 -- If you're invited to participate in a panel, tell the organizer it's important to you that the panel includes a diversity of perspectives and backgrounds, and be so bold as to suggest some folks who might fit the bill if the organizers seem unfamiliar.

4 -- If you're invited to open or close a conference, or function as a keynote speaker, tell the organizers how important diverse panels and perspectives are to you.

3 -- If you somehow find yourself on a panel that's all white (or even all white and male), don't just lament the situation. Give up your time to someone in the audience who has a valuable perspective not otherwise represented on the stage, or do something really bold and give up your spot. 

2 -- If you're someone who's used to being asked to speak on panels or give talks, consider giving up your spot to give someone else a chance and -- just as important -- come to the event anyway, sit in the the audience like a normal person, and you might learn something.  

1 -- If you're attending a conference or panel in the audience and you happen to notice that the panel is, say, all white (or that the conversation is being dominated by men) say something.  (Be nice about it -- the organizers are  probably very tired and doing their best -- but still say something.)

Bottom line: Talking about diversity is great but insufficient at this point.  Programs aimed at diversifying the pipeline of teacher and leaders are great but way in the future in terms of their impact.  

Finding and elevating new and diverse voices to speak at conferences and sit on panels could make a small but concrete difference to the success of the movement. And those of us who've been privileged enough to sit on panels and speak at conferences should take the lead in helping make these shifts, rather than resisting them or even appearing to undercut them.

*For those of you not following along on Twitter, the question of diversifying panels and the responsibilities of conference organizers and convening organizations came up in a series of tweets this morning. The PIE Network's Suzanne Tacheny Kabach and I talked more about it this afternoon and that conversation was the inspiration for some of the above. 

Events: Live-Tweeting From Yale

I'm at @yaleELC #backtowhy today, mostly on Twitter (Snapchatting an event is not so easy or fun as it sounds). You can check out all the updates here, or on Facebook (Alexander Russo), or directly on Twitter (@alexanderrusso). You won't miss a thing, plus you can see the fun things people Tweet at me all day. 

AM News: Meet Laurene Powell Jobs, Education Kingmaker?

Laurene Powell Jobs linked to Jeb and Hillary Business Insider:  Business Insider obtained Powell-Jobs' resignation letter from a source. In the letter, which was personally addressed to Bush and began "Dear Jeb," Powell-Jobs attributed her decision to leave the foundation's board of directors dto time commitments.

How do schools respond to competition? Not as you might expect. Washington Post: The school-choice movement is built on the philosophy that competition forces schools to improve.But new research on New Orleans — arguably the nation’s most competitive school market — suggests that school leaders are less likely to work on improving academics than to use other tactics in their efforts to attract students.

Evaluation stalemate, looming changes fuel teacher frustration ChalkbeatNY: The future of teacher evaluations in New York state appears more unclear than ever. With six days left to craft an on-time state budget, lawmakers have only just begun to seriously negotiate how to overhaul the state’s nascent teacher-grading system.

Technology is the focus of first-time Smarter Balanced implementation Concord Monitor: Schools are used to administering standardizedtests, but the tests corresponding to theCommon Core State Standards are a new experience for both... 

Bill would let parents initiate school reform process Tennessean: Currently, the state does not identify schools in the bottom 10 percent but does identify schools in the bottom 5 percent based on academic achievement. Most of the schools in the bottom 5 percent, known as priority schools, are in Davidson County and Shelby County.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Meet Laurene Powell Jobs, Education Kingmaker? " »

Journalism: Using SnapChat (Or Vine, Meerkat, Periscope) To Cover Education

image from www.niemanlab.orgUnless I lose my nerve (or someone talks me out of it) I'm going to try and Snapchat (or at least Vine) tomorrow's Yale ELC event.  
 
What's that mean?  Basically, that I'm going to try and tell the story of the event through pictures and video, in real time.
 
You might think that Snapchat only goes between one person and another, and that images and videos disappear.  Well, not any more. There's a My Story function that allows unlimited views by anyone on Snapchat to view videos for 24 hours. Plus you can save everything before you send it out, and post it afterwards, a la Storify. (There are no familiar "likes" or comments, just views and people snapping back.)

I won't be the first person to try this.  Earlier this week, BuzzFeed's Molly Hensley-Clark interviewed a teen using Snapchat. And lots of different news outlets are trying their hands at the mobile video approach, according to the Online News Association (Can Vine and Snapchat be reporting tools?).  The Nieman Journalism Lab rounds up several efforts (How 6 news orgs are thinking about Snapchat) many of them focused on experimenting with live coverage. Huffington Post, Fusion, Mashable, NPR, Philly.com, and The Verge are all Snapchatting. The Knight Lab has another roundup (How news organizations are using SnapChat to report and distribute news) focused on NowThisNews, the Washington Post, NPR, and Mashable. In fact, Snapchat and Vine are no longer the new kids on the mobile video block, now that Meerkat and Periscope have launched.  (These new versions offer live-streaming options.)

The big question is whether a conference is lively and colorful enough to make video and images appealing enough.  It might be silly or boring.  I may entertain only myself.
 
Another question is whether there are enough grownups actually using the app to have enough of an audience.  Most adults I know are struggling to deal with Twitter and Facebook, and hoping Snapchat and Vine will go the way of the dodo bird.
 
In the end, these apps might be better for finding sources or information from teens and teachers.  
 
Anyway, it's good to experiment and I'll learn a ton whatever happens.  Way, way back in the day when I first signed onto Facebook and Twitter, there was nobody there, nobody taking it seriously.  But now iDitto with blogging, I guess, come to think of it.   
 
The hashtag for @YaleELC this year is #backtowhy (or just #yaleELC). You can find me on Snapchat at "thisweekined" (or maybe "alexanderrusso" -- I still haven't quite figured it out :-).

Journo-Politics: 2 Things About That "Hillary Being Squeezed" Piece

Ann O'LearyFirst things first: The most notable thing about Tuesday's much-tweeted NYT story about Hillary Clinton and education (Hillary Clinton Caught Between Teachers and Wealthy Donors) might be that Team Hillary put Ann O'Leary out in front to represent the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate.

"Both the teachers’ union and the reformers will really feel like they have her ear in a way they haven’t,” said Ann O’Leary in the NYT piece. "She believes we need to have some kind of ways that we can measure student progress,” Ms. O’Leary said.

But she said Mrs. Clinton was “also sympathetic that the test regime has become very burdensome in driving the education system in ways that many people think is problematic.”

Longtime readers of this site already know about her (see related posts, below).  And longtime Hillary-watchers know her, too.  She's on Politico's top Hillary Clinton influentials.  Need to know more? Check out her official Next Generation bio

After the article came out, O'Leary (@Ann_OLeary) tweeted " It's true: I do believe ed community will be pleased @HillaryClinton's someone who listens to all good education ideas."

OK, sure.

As for the piece itself, well, it's obviously a good media "get" for DFER and the like to have the NYT talking about reformy pressures that are (supposedly) being put on the presumptive Democratic candidate. The "leaked" memo worked again!

But there's an undertone of fear and uncertainty just below the surface, and let's be clear: reformers like the unions don't really have anywhere else to go.  They can threaten to stay home or focus on other races but they're pretty much all Democrats and don't really have any interest in having a conservative Republican win the White House. Team Hillary wants their money, sure, and will listen to them, sure.

However, I can't imagine folks as smart and experienced as Team Clinton are feeling any real pressure to do something "crazy" (like coming out hard for the Common Core or even annual testing) anytime soon.  (Coming out in favor of vaccinations was already a bit of a surprise.) So if anything, the Clinton folks might not like the public display that DFER et al are trying to put on here, and Team DFER could get some cold shoulder. For a little while. Nobody can hate nice-guy Joe Williams for long.

Related posts:  A Clinton Ed Staffer On The High Court? (2010), Power Couples In Education, The Update (2007), More Agency Review Team Names (2008), West Coast Reboot For DFER & Steve BarrWinners & Losers of 2008  (According To Me).Image via Twitter.

Morning Video: Rahm Challenger Mis-Labels Charters As "Elite" & "Private"

Or at least, so says Factcheck via HuffPost: "In an ad released on March 18, Garcia stands in front of a closed school and states that the mayor “took the money from these schools and gave it to elite private schools founded by his big campaign contributors." (Chuy Garcia Mayoral Ad Stretches The Truth About Rahm Emanuel's School Funding Decisions). Not really impressed? Read about last night's debate, or about Garcia and De Blasio are and aren't alike (on mayoral control, among other things).

AM News: NEA Says "Let's Get This [Presidential Campaign] Party Started"

Nation’s largest labor union: We want 2016 hopefuls talking about schools Washington Post: The National Education Association, the largest U.S. labor union, is pushing to make public schools a front-burner domestic issue throughout the 2016 presidential race, union leaders said Wednesday. “We have 3 million members who want desperately to know what the candidates have to say to really, seriously improve public education,” NEA President Lily Eskelsen García told reporters. “We intend to activate those 3 million members, the parents, even the students. See also Huffington Post, EdWeek (anyone else).

Unions and Garcia push for $15-an-hour minimum wage WBEZ Chicago: Garcia, members of the CTU, and activists with the national movement “Fight for 15” rallied outside the Chicago Board of Education Wednesday. They want all companies who do business with Chicago Public Schools to agree to a wage increase.

LAUSD educators typically earned $75,504 last year LADN: The typical Los Angeles Unified educator collected $75,504 in 2014, according to pay records obtained by this news organization ­-- the first time the school district has released the pay and name of every employee. [yikes!]

About 20,000 sign in favor of teacher-evaluation bill Seattle Times: Parents delivered a petition to legislative leaders in Olympia on Tuesday supporting a bill that would require student scores on state tests to be used in evaluating teachers.

New York Dreamers Begin Hunger Strike As State Budget Deadline Looms Huffington Post: A group of 10 undocumented youths launched a hunger strike Wednesday, vowing to pressure New York lawmakers to put funding for a proposed state version of the Dream Act back into next year's budget. 

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

Continue reading "AM News: NEA Says "Let's Get This [Presidential Campaign] Party Started"" »

Journalism: 4 New Stories I'd Like To See

There's a ton of great education journalism out there these days, with more and more of it coming online all the time.  But sometimes editors and reporters get stuck covering the same things the same ways and they need some new stories or new ways to come at old stories.  And that's where "Stories I'd Like To See" comes in.  Take a look at the latest batch, steal them if you want, tell me if they've already been done, or suggest your own if you think there's something that needs covering and isn't being covered:

1- UNDER ATTACK! At least a couple of school districts have been hacked/ attacked during this spring's Common Core testing rolllout -- in one case with a $500 bitcoin ransom demand. Are the attacks coming from Common Core critics (joke!) or random Russians (no offense)? Are districts anywhere near prepared for DNS attacks and ransom demands that could interrupt both testing and instructional time?

2 - WHY NOT WORKPLACE-BASED SCHOOL ASSIGNMENT? Should parents be allowed to enroll their children in schools near work, not just schools near home? That's one of the issues raised by the case of the daughter of a live-in nanny in affluent Orinda, California, who was temporarily dis-enrolled from her mother's employer's neighborhood school. Parents with choices find schools close or convenient to work, using charters, magnets, and private options. Why not everyone else?

3 - CHEATING WITH SOCIAL MEDIA: While most of the attention has focused on whether testing companies and districts are "spying" on kids by monitoring social media for kids sharing test items, another question is whether (how) kids are using social media to cheat on tests (Common Core or otherwise). With its disappearing images, SnapChat sounds like a perfect cheating tool. But then there's plain old Twitter, texting, and private Facebook groups. The days of copying the test at Kinko's (what!?) and sharing it among friends are long gone.

4 -UBER GOES TO SCHOOL: Parents are using Uber and other services to ferry their kids around town, reports the Washington Post. What are schools to do when some kids are jumping into strangers' cars to go home or to dance practice? Should schools consider Uber as an alternative to expensive bus services and voucher arrangements? Special tip: Uber's spokesperson used to work for LEE.

Related posts:  Three Education Stories I'd Like To See (February)

Thompson: Schools and L'Dor V'Dor; From Generation to Generation

Oklahoma education bloggers have been challenged to articulate what we would do about schooling if we were a Queen or King for a Day.  The first ten of the 600-word posts are here. 

My aspiration is inspired by the words of Randi Weingarten who reminds us of the Jewish concept of L'Dor V'Dor, or "from generation to generation." I dream of a learning culture where each generation teaches and learns from each other.

My parents' generation, having survived the Great Depression and World War II, were committed to providing children with greater opportunities than they had. This was "Pax Americana" before our extreme confidence was shattered by Vietnam. In my postage stamp of the 1950s and 1960s,  children continually heard the exhortation, "Pay close attention, I'm only going to show you once."

Coming from parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and neighbors, those words were the opposite of a stern admonition. They challenged us to focus, so we could "learn how to learn." By the time we were teens, our mentors urged us to practice "creative insubordination." 

Never facing a shortage of caring adults for schooling us on life in a democracy, I learned as much "wrasslin iron" in the oil patch and from fellow workers as I did from formal education.  We Baby Boomers listened to Woody Guthrie and read Ken Kesey, and jumped into exploratory learning, often hitchhiking and backpacking widely.  

My buddies were first generation working or middle class. We assumed that tomorrow would be better than today. We sought social justice where everyone could enjoy the same opportunities that we had.

Continue reading "Thompson: Schools and L'Dor V'Dor; From Generation to Generation" »

Kids: Reporter Uses SnapChat To Interview Teen Climber

image from static.ow.ly

Intrepid BuzzFeed education and business reporter Molly  Hensley-Clancy took to the teen-dominated social media app called Snapchat to interview a 13 year-old climbing phenom.

For the most part, the teen climber used the image-based app to answer questions posed to her in plain text form.  

But then MHC went the extra mile and posed a question to the teen climber using the application herself (pictured).

This is the first time to my knowledge that an education reporter has used and published the results of a Snapchat interview.

Image used with permission.

Quotes: Smart Young People Should Stick To Private Schools, Says Award-Winning Teacher

Quotes2If you're a creative, smart young person, I don't think this is the time to go into teaching unless an independent school would suit you.

-- Nancie Atwell via EdWeek.

Morning Video: Yep, That's A School Bus

Via MSNBC

Click the link if the video doesn't render properly.

AM News: Squeezing Clinton, Cheerleading "Chuy," & NCLB "No Go"?

Hillary Clinton Caught Between Teachers and Wealthy Donors NYT: The pressure Hillary Rodham Clinton faces shows the demands she will have to contend with on a number of divisive domestic issues that flared up during the Obama administration.

In Washington, it's 'Viva Chicago' for Garcia Chicago Sun-Times: "So there is a real choice here,” American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten is saying at a Tuesday fundraiser for mayoral candidate Jesus “Chuy” Garcia at a townhouse a few blocks from the Capitol.

Connecticut education official resigns after insulting Obama, Holder, Sharpton New Haven Register: A Norwalk Board of Education member is resigning in response to criticism of a Facebook posting that featured obscenity-laced invective against the Rev. Al Sharpton and insults targeted at President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder.

GOP lawmaker: I’m short votes for No Child Left Behind rewrite Washington Post: Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.), the chairman of the House education panel, said Tuesday that he is still a “handful” of votes short to pass his GOP bill to replace No Child Left Behind, the main federal education law. 

GOP's John Kasich Isn't Backing Off 'Core' Support WSJ via RCE: If Gov. John Kasich is going to run for president, he doesnt seem likely to trim his sails on the hot-button issue of Common Core education standards.

2 Maryland students caught cheating on PARCC exam WBAL Baltimore: Education officials said they learned earlier this month that the students posted test questions to their Twitter accounts. 

Charter Leader Moskowitz Defends Her Policies, Won't Say if She's Running for Mayor WNYC: In an interview on WNYC's Brian Leher Show, charter school leader and lightning rod Eva Moskowitz defended her schools and her policy of not filling empty seats in upper grades. See also Moskowitz Weighs InMoskowitz addresses backfill and test prep critiques

Cuomo Drops Dream Act and Education Tax Credit From Budget NYT: A spokeswoman for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said that the Dream Act, which would allow high school graduates who are undocumented immigrants to apply for state aid to college, might have to be taken up later.

Blind Kids, Touchscreen Phones, and the End of Braille? NPR: Touchscreen phones work so well for blind people that Braille may become obsolete. But advocates worry this could render the next generation "functionally illiterate."

Maryland begins to consider requests to waive school days lost to snow Washington Post: Maryland officials will begin considering requests for waivers that would forgive school systems for canceling up to three days of classes during the winter’s snow and ice. The Maryland State Board of Education gave the go-ahead at its Tuesday meeting, saying that State Superintendent Lillian M. Lowery could decide such requests on a case-by-case basis.

Young Girls Are Much, Much Better Readers Than Boys, And Have Been For A Long Time HuffPost: The gap between boys' and girls' respective reading abilities has been getting a lot of attention lately, but the trend itself is not new.

Pro Tip: With Tailored Alerts, Nuzzel Lets You Know What's Hot On Social Media

image from wilab.comSocial media is great, and we all know how to set up streams on Hootsuite or Tweetdeck and use hashtags and check for updates constantly and all the rest, but it's still been hard to figure out where the conversation is going without spending all day watching Twitter, right?

Until now, that is.  A newish program called Nuzzel (tag line: "News from your friends") watches social media for you and lets you know when a bunch of your "friends" are going crazy over something. 

That's what's happening this afternoon, with the publication of Maggie Haberman's story on DFER, Hillary Clinton and the teachers unions

When a story like this one gets big, you get an alert and then you can click down and see who (among your friends) got the ball rolling and how it unfolded.  In this case, it was @maggieNYT who quad-tweeted her story out at noon, followed by Bloomberg's Jennifer Epstein, Gotham Gazette's Ben Max, and Politico's Caitlin Emma.

Or at least, that's how it appears on my Nuzzel - perhaps you have more or better friends than I do. 

But wait, there's more!  Nuzzel lets you get a daily email, plus individual alerts at a threshold level of activity you can determine.  You can synchronize Twitter, Facebook, and other social media accounts. You can even subscribe to custom feeds, (aka Twitter lists, whose usefulness has always been limited to vanity), and get alerts that way. 

Basically, Nuzzel is a way to tame Twitter. It basically tells you what's trending within the group of folks you already know and love (or at least follow) that's not reliant on hashtags, saved streams, or Twitter's lame Trending lists. 

It may not yet be a full replacement for Feedly (or for having your own social media manager pinging you in the Bahamas when something comes up), but it's a big step forward.

And, it's a big argument for following or friending folks who don't agree with you already because it makes the echo chamber pretty obvious. Don't follow your opponents or others and you won't know what they're excited or upset about.

Big thanks to JGW for tipping me off about it.Click below for some screenshots if it's still not making sense.

Continue reading "Pro Tip: With Tailored Alerts, Nuzzel Lets You Know What's Hot On Social Media " »

Charts: Urban Charters Vs. District School Demographics

Credo2015
This chart comparing district and charter demographics (SPED, ELL, poverty) is from last week's @credoatstanford study via Joy Resmovits. Of course, there are wide variations in student demographics within traditional district school districts, and charter school enrollments are generally much smaller than the districts in which they are sited.

Preview: New Faces At This Week's Yale Education Conference

Screenshot 2015-03-24 13.18.53This year's Yale SOM Education Leadership Conference could be particularly interesting, given where were are in the education debate. It looks like there are going to be some new faces and names -- Kalimah Priforce, anyone? The theme ("Back to Why") and official goal (to refocus on "the purpose and outcomes of education reform") are full of intrigue to people like me who follow these things too closely.  We all know that the fight for the hearts and minds of smart young do-gooder types (and entrepreneurs, etc.) is pretty heated, as is the rhetorical battle over who's more "social justice." WebsiteFacebook.For past events, look at the list here. Previous blog posts from me about the event here.

Morning Video: Will Restorative Justice Programs Lead To School Chaos?

 

In this recent segment from Fox News posted by Media Matters, "Fox News host Bill O'Reilly attacked efforts to decrease school suspensions and expulsions with programs known as "restorative justice," ignoring that these traditional punishments disproportionately target students of color." (Bill O'Reilly Attacks "Restorative Justice" Programs). Or, watch Charles Best's SXSWedu presentation below.

Continue reading "Morning Video: Will Restorative Justice Programs Lead To School Chaos?" »

AM News: It's Tuesday - You Make The Headline

Giuliani and de Blasio Form Unlikely Alliance on New York City Schools NYT: Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, and former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, a Republican, both signed an appeal to state legislators to reauthorize mayoral control of the city’s schools.

In Congress, New Attention To Student-Privacy Fears NPR: A House bill seeks to restrict what private companies can do with information collected on students.

Obama To Young Scientists: 'Keep Asking Why' HuffPost: About 20 young scientists were honored on Monday, including Sophia Sánchez-Maes of Las Cruces, New Mexico, a high school senior who has studied algae as a potential fuel source, and Harry Paul of Port Washington, New York, who is now in his first year at Tufts and designed a new type of spinal implant after undergoing multiple surgeries for his own spine curvature.

Duncan: Teacher Preparation Lacks Resources, Focus TeacherBeat: U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan talked with the state supes on March 23 about a lot of different things, including the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Improving teacher prep was one area in which he said there hadn't been enough progress.

Schwarzenegger Continues After-School Education 'Crusade' AP: At a national summit in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Schwarzenegger will join education, business and law enforcement leaders in demanding that any bill passed continue after-school funding. A proposed House bill eliminated the so-called 21st Century Community Learning Centers along with 68 other programs in favor of a flexibility grant that would allow states how to decide to use funds.

During PARCC testing, some schools losing art, music, other ‘specials’ Chicago Sun-Times
Critics of this new test molded to common core standards have complained that it deprives children of classroom learning, and that, between preparation and conditions children need to test well, it takes over the whole school.

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

Continue reading "AM News: It's Tuesday - You Make The Headline" »

Update: Mixed (Predictable) Reactions To My CJR Common Core Reporting Piece

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com
Thanks to everyone who passed along my recent CJR piece on the challenges of reporting the Common Core testing rollout this spring. Much appreciated! The story was a top read for CJR all week.

By and large, those of you who are pro-Common Core liked the piece, and those of you who are critical thought it was less likable. Pretty predictable. (Your positions are reversed when I'm criticizing Rhee or Kopp or Cunningham, though.)

Far as I know, nobody was willing to admit publicly any major change of mind on the tests or the coverage -- such is rigidly orthodox world of education debate these days (and also of course the limits of my writing). 

Most of you who work as education reporters didn't say anything one way or the other -- at least not publicly. (A few of you were kind enough to write privately that it was a useful piece, or that it was helping you to rethink your coverage tendencies, which I appreciated tremendously.)

Alas, the only journalists I could find to talk about the issue on the record were John Merrow (one of its subjects) and Linda Perlstein (a former Washington Post reporter and EWA's founding Public Editor). I hope that won't always be the case, as I think constructive conversation about media coverage is a positive and healthy thing and shows confidence in the work.

Turned by back CJR from commenting on their site, Merrow finally posted his own response on his blog this afternoon (Reporting About Reporting).  He makes some good points, as you'll see, but he also makes some weaker ones, according to me at least, and unfortunately resorts to (gentle) criticisms of character.

Read on for more about Merrow, a handful of less predictable responses, some errors and omissions on my part, and a few sentences that were left on the cutting room floor.

Continue reading "Update: Mixed (Predictable) Reactions To My CJR Common Core Reporting Piece" »

Foundations: Six Years In, Is the Spencer Fellowship (Still) Worth It?

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comNot counting this year's class (pictured), the Spencer Education Fellowship at Columbia University's Journalism School is now six years old. 

Wow, time has flown. I was in the first class (2008-2009). The seventh class (2015-2016) will be notified as soon as later today and announced in a few weeks. Here are the people making the decisions this year.

At the time the Spencer Foundation was considering what to do, I thought that a small, expensive program like the Columbia model was a bad idea.

The folks I talked to as part of some research I did on journalism education all told me that small, ongoing, community-focused training was better and more effective than flashy fellowships, and more likely to benefit those who really needed them, and I believed them.  

It's possible that they were right.  Some of the biggest books on education -- Amanda Ripley's book, for example, or Steven Brill's -- weren't a product of the Spencer Fellowship.  Several of the folks that have gotten Spencers aren't really focused on education journalism, per se.  A few of them already had book deals and might not have needed the fellowship in order to get their work done.  Given the current conversation about white privilege, it's important to note that we are many of us awfully white.

Then again, a bunch of the books and projects that have come out of the Spencer Fellowship have been helpful contributions to the field (as far as I can tell) and wouldn't otherwise have happened.  Some examples that come to mind include books and other projects by Goldstein, Green, and Solomon. Ideologically, the products of the Spencer Fellowship have been pretty mixed -- reflecting the advisory board that makes the final decisions.

The newest offshoot of the Spencer project is a reporting program through Columbia and Slate featuring work from Matt Collette and Alexandra Neason that seems like it's been pretty useful. And I'm pretty excited about whatever this year's class -- Lutton and Resmovits especially -- are going to do next, and S. Mitra Kalita's forthcoming endeavors at the LA Times. Toppos' education book is coming out any minute now. 

Related posts: Columbia J-School Doubles Down On Education Reporting Goldstein Taking Her Talents To The Marshall Project. Image used with permission.

People: Sun-Times Journo Wins University of Chicago Fellowship

Longtime readers already know that the Chicago Sun-Times' Kate Grossman is one of my favorite editorial page writers.  She (along with the LA Times' Karin Klein) report their own pieces and sometimes scoop or differ from their own beat reporters, which I think is healthy.  

Well the latest news is that Grossman and a few others (including Davis Guggenheim) have won a new fellowship at the University of Chicago's Institute of Politics, and will be teaching a course among other things.  Read all about it here: Sun-Times deputy editor Kate Grossman wins U. of C. fellowship. "Starting March 30, Grossman will spend 10 weeks on campus examining education issues and the debate over how best to improve schools."

Related posts: Two Great Education Writers You May Not Know AboutWhere's Ravitch's Research? Sun Times Edit Board Questions Narrow RttT Focus On Data Systems.

Speaking of fellowships, I'm told that today is the day that the Spencer Fellowships are being decided for 2015-2016.  Good luck to everyone who made it to the finals!

Quotes: Why NCLB Can't Just Give States/Schools The Money

Quotes2The worry is that if you leave it to the states, they will drop the ball, as they did in the past.

-- HGSE professor Martin West (Schools Wait to See What Becomes of No Child Left Behind Law)

Morning Video: HS Kid's "Wheelchair Challenge" (Or Nancie Atwell's Private School Pitch)

Check out this inspiring student-focused PBS NewsHour segment about wheelchair accessibility for schools. Or watch $1 million prizewinning teacher Nancie Atwell talk literacy and tell kids trying to figure out what to do to not to go into teaching "unless an independent school would suit you." Wait, what?  

AM News: NYC Teachers, Duncan In Philly, & End In Atlanta

Cuomo Fights Rating System in Which Few Teachers Are Bad NYT: Less than 1 percent of teachers in New York State were rated ineffective over all, and principals’ evaluations are often responsible for the high scores. See also: More Unwanted Teachers Leave System Under de Blasio WNYC.

Jurors Resume Deliberating Atlanta Public Schools Cheating Case NPR: Twelve ex-educators are accused of changing students' test scores in a scandal dating back to 2009. Jurors have six months of evidence to go through, including testimony from more than 130 witnesses.

No Child Left Behind Law Faces Its Own Reckoning NYT: A rewrite could collapse in partisan disarray. But it could also herald a new era of education, keeping some testing but eliminating prescriptive punishments.

Ed Secretary Arne Duncan on Pa.'s funding gap between rich, poor schools is ... Philly.com: U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Friday that Pennsylvania does the worst job in the nation of funding low-income school districts. "The state of Pennsylvania is 50th, dead last, in terms of the inequality between how wealthy school districts ...

How a wheelchair challenge mobilized a high school to become more accessible PBS NewsHour: How one student’s efforts changed his high school in Texas and made it more accessible for people with disabilities. It’s the subject of nationally recognized video from our Student Reporting Lab in Austin and tells the story of Archer Hadley, a teenager with cerebral palsy who mobilized the entire school community.

How one California superintendent changed troubled schools Hechinger Report: Christopher Steinhauser has been the superintendent of the Long Beach Unified School District in Southern California for 13 years. Made famous by the movie Freedom Writers, which told the story of novice teacher Erin Gruwell reaching her troubled students in the early 1990s through writing...

Parent Advisory Council Members in Conn. Sue Local Superintendent, Board EdWeek: Some parents claim Bridgeport school district leaders are trying to silence their criticism by removing them from their District Parent Advisory Council posts.

Kansas Schools Fight Plays Out Against Backdrop of Debate on Judiciary NYT: A state appellate court has suggested that it might block a school financing plan that lawmakers passed; Republican leaders say the court is overstepping its bounds.

A Donation Site Where Schools Can Pass The Hat NPR: For the last 15 years, DonorsChoose.org has helped teachers like Vanderford raise more than $310 million — with more than half of those donations going to America's poorest schools.

Former charter schools CEO earning $250K as Rauner's adviser WBEZ Chicago: For weeks, Beth Purvis' role in the administration had been somewhat of a mystery. There was no formal announcement when she was hired, and during a House education committee meeting earlier this month, she stood and introduced herself when someone on the panel asked if anyone from the governor's office was in attendance.

 A High School Where a Student Might Letter in Polo NYT: Officials at the elite, private Oxbridge Academy say its polo team will serve as a democratizer, uniting children of different economic backgrounds.

Journalism: US News' Reformy New Education Opinion Page*

Knowledge Bank   US NewsAnother day, another new education page of some kind (right?)

Today's newish entrant is US News' Knowledge Bank, which (so far) includes a rogues' gallery of reformers with a particularly heavy dose of Bellwether (Mead, Rotherham), Fordham (Pondiscio), and AEI (McShane, Hess).*  

Elaine Allensworth from the Chicago Consortium is in there, as is Catherine Brown. You get the idea.  

These folks already  have in-house blogs and other outlets to get their views out there, but now they've got a regular outlet for their views plus US News' logo etc. as well.

There's the added legitimacy of the venerable magazine, plus also the potential confusion for readers who -- as with Valerie Strauss's blog page -- sometimes see the outlet listed but don't realize that it's an opinion piece (especially on Twitter). In fact, you could look at this as the reform version of the Answer Sheet.

In any case, I'm told that the page is looking for a mix of contributors and will continue to add/shift things around as things develop.  It'll be interesting to watch.

*Corrected: I got them confused - McShane & Hess are AEI, Pondiscio is Fordham. Apologies.

Thompson: Where Have All the Teachers Gone?

NPR’s Eric Westervelt, in Where Have All the Teachers Gone?, addresses the “alarming drops in enrollment at teacher training programs.” Westervelt is correct; the decline in the numbers of prospective teachers is “the canary in the coal mine.” 

In California, enrollment in teacher education programs is down by 53%, but the problem is more pervasive. TFA enrollment is also down.

Westervelt reports:

The list of potential headaches for new teachers is long, starting with the ongoing, ideological fisticuffs over the Common Core State Standards, high-stakes testing and efforts to link test results to teacher evaluations. Throw in the erosion of tenure protections and a variety of recession-induced budget cuts, and you've got the makings of a crisis.

Bill McDiarmid, the Dean of the University of North Carolina School of Education, attributes the K-12 decline to teachers who “simply have less control over their professional lives in an increasingly bitter, politicized environment.” McDiarmid says that “the job also has a PR problem.”  Teachers are “too often turned into scapegoats by politicians, policymakers, foundations and the media.” He concludes:

It tears me up sometimes to see the way in which people talk about teachers because they are giving blood, sweat and tears for their students every day in this country. There is a sense now that, 'If I went into this job and it doesn't pay a lot and it's a lot of hard work, it may be that I'd lose it.' And students are hearing this. And it deters them from entering the profession.

Continue reading "Thompson: Where Have All the Teachers Gone?" »

Morning Video: Google Vs. Apple Battle Over Amish Country Classrooms

 

Tech giants battle for classrooms in Amish country From PBS NewsHour. Click the link for the show transcript.

AM News: Parent Trigger 2015, Plus Social Media Monitoring

Parent-trigger showdowns loom nationwide Hechinger Report: Lawmakers around the country are gearing up for showdowns against teachers unions and school administrators who are seeking to squash a new round of education bills that would create and strengthen so-called “parent trigger” laws. Parent-trigger bills exist in some form in seven states, and have been rejected in more than two dozen others. Tennessee and Texas are their primary targets in 2015. See also Texas Tribune, EdWeek, Chalkbeat.

Student Privacy Debate Dominates Assembly Panel’s Meeting on PARCC Tests NJ Spotlight: For close to an hour, the department’s chief counsel and its investigations director defended the practices as legal and appropriate, and said security measures being taken are necessary to maintain the integrity of the exam. At issue specifically is the practice by Pearson, through subcontractor Caveon Test Security, of scanning social media for possible messages by students divulging the contents of the exams. See also: Test security now means checking social media for cheaters.

Mayor De Blasio Defends His School Improvement Plan WNYC: New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio makes the case that struggling schools have a better chance of turning around with his approach than with the plan proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. See also HuffPost: Andrew Cuomo's Approval Rating Drops To New Low.

Alabama Lawmakers Pass Charter School Bill EdWeek: The Black Alliance for Educational Options calls Alabama's charter school legislation a "victory" for parents and community members.

Texas Ready to Dump High School Steroids Testing Program AP: After years of catching few cheaters, Texas ready to dump high school steroids testing program.

In addressing food allergies, some Chicago schools fall through the cracks WBEZ Chicago: It’s a typical day in the Ravenswood Elementary cafeteria on Chicago’s North Side. Middle schoolers catch up with friends, make jokes and chow down on a mishmosh of cafeteria food and brown bag lunches.

More news and commentary throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

Journalism: Some Common Problems With This Spring's Common Core Reporting

Here's something new from me via the Columbia Journalism Review, focusing on the challenges of reporting the Common Core testing rollout this spring:

Screenshot 2015-03-18 11.13.18

As you'll see from my review of coverage from PBS, the NYT, WSJ, AP, and the Washington Post, it's no easy task for journalists to describe the varied experiences different schools, districts, and states are having -- or to find hard numbers or nuanced viewpoints.

But in my view the national coverage has somehow ended up upside-down, focusing on the relatively few hotspots and problem areas (and passing along one-sided speculation) without giving readers a clear sense of the vast majority of instances where the process of implementing the new tests seems to be going well.

Related posts: Missing Context In AP's Common Core Testing StoryLet's Focus On What Actually Happens -- Not What *Might* HappenPlease Do A Better Job Covering Testing This Year, Journos!Inside The Common Core Assessment “Field Test”. Image via CJR.

#EdGif Of The Day: Duncan Slow Walks Through Chicago Testing Protesters

OK, technically it's a Vine (with sound!) not a GIF, but who cares? The Chicago Tribune's Juan Perez saw fit to highlight a few seconds of Duncan's forced walk through anti-testing protesters in Chicago the other day. The moment took place because Duncan car ended up in a dead-end alley -- some poor driver or advance staffer got in trouble for this (or should have).  

Read Sun-Times for additional coverage. The EdSec claims that the USDE didn't force Chicago to administer PARCC, and Mayor Rahm is saying that it was the state (not Washington). Hmm. Read more Tribune for how the rollout's going so far.

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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.