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Lunchtime Video: Stewart Rips Into Corporal Punishment Proposals*

"Last February, Jon Stewart on the The Daily Show ripped a state legislator in Kansas, Rep. Gail Finney, who was pushing legislation to allow teachers and parents to whack kids hard enough to bruise." (19 states still allow corporal punishment in school) via the Washington Post.

*Yeah, that's Jon Stewart, not Stephen Colbert as I originally had it in the headline.

Thompson: Has "Education Post" Already Changed Its "Kinder, Gentler" Tune?

BurrisIt was less than a month ago that Peter Cunningham, the former Assistant Secretary for Communications and Outreach in the U.S. Department of Education announced that his new organization, the Education Post, supposedly repudiated the playing of edu-politics and moved beyond name-calling.

Given its financial support from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Broad Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation, and since it included reformers like Ann Whalen, Antonio Villaraigosa, and Paul Pastorek, those nice words needed to be taken with a grain of salt.

It didn’t take long, however, for the real the Education Post to come through. Ann Whalen’s The False Arguments of Carol Burris Against High Standards reveals the venom hidden just below their seemingly polite veneer.

Whalen countered a Washington Post piece by national Principal of the Year Carol Burris, Four Common Core "Flimflams." She characterized Burris’s position as “inexcusable,” as “resistance to common sense changes,” and “toxic.” Whalen’s counterargument was “when you can’t make an honest case against something, there’s always rhetoric, exaggeration or falsehood.”

For the record, Whalen didn’t even try to challenge much of the substance of Burris’s carefully-honed arguments. Burris explained that Common Core was not, in fact, internationally benchmarked or based on research.  Burris explained how Common Core “insists upon the use of a particular method of math instruction.” She then explained  that the prescribed  method “may be helpful in increasing understanding for some students, it should be up to a teacher to use it, or not use it, as a strategy. Instructional strategies have no place in state standards.”

Continue reading "Thompson: Has "Education Post" Already Changed Its "Kinder, Gentler" Tune?" »

#EdGif Of The Day: Watch College Become Commonplace (Except South)

College education

From Vox: "Just over 40 years ago, only around 1 in 10 US adults had a four-year college education. Today, that rate has nearly tripled. This gif shows the geography of that explosion." Source: Reddit user metricmapsore. "Broadly speaking, the South remains the place where degrees are the least common. Meanwhile, cities — and particularly the northeastern Amtrak corridor — are where college graduates have concentrated." Used with permission.

AM News: Duncan Criticizes Jindal, CA Predicts Spring Testing Success

Duncan criticizes Jindal The Times-Picayune: Jindal announced late last month that he would sue Duncan and the U.S. Department of Education directly over the Common Core academic standards. The lawsuit followed an initial loss for the governor in state court over the use of a Common Core test

Officials optimistic about spring assessments EdSource Today: Last spring more than 3 million students in California, the largest number ever to take an online test in the state, took field tests of new assessments aligned to the Common Core state standards without major technical breakdowns or system crashes, according to state officials. See also: Scores on exit exam hold steady.

TX Education Board Members Question Teacher Prep Requirements Texas Tribune: The three SBOE members, all Republicans, who backed the veto said they hoped it would persuade the board of educator certification to reconsider an August decision against raising the required GPA — from 2.5 to 2.75 —for admission to educator preparation programs. The full SBOE will take up the recommendation Friday. 

Harmony Project Offers More Than Just Music In LA NPR: With public schools across the country cutting music instruction to save money, the Harmony Project in Los Angeles is trying to make up the difference. The nonprofit offers free music lessons to kids.

Nine People, One Bedroom: A Teen's Take on Life In Poverty WNYC: Jairo Gomez never thought he was poor, even though he was one of seven kids and his family lived in a one-bedroom apartment.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Duncan Criticizes Jindal, CA Predicts Spring Testing Success" »

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: "In The Dust Of This Planet" Edition

NCEE 's Tucker responds to Ravitch and Cody http://ow.ly/3qZsNF 

Actually, public education is getting better, not worse - The Washington Post http://ow.ly/BGAx4  @crampell

Wendy Kopp: Criticism toward Teach for America is misplaced - The Washington Post http://ow.ly/BHyz3 

New MTA head Barbara Madeloni Thinks Tests Are Failing Our Schools http://ow.ly/BHmcU  Boston Magazine

Funders band together to invest in “Teacher Town, USA” [aka Memphis] http://ow.ly/BHmsZ  @bridgespangroup via @michaelpetrilli

Charter accountability "too important to be left to those working for their demise," notes EIA re @annenberginst rpt http://ow.ly/BHGDd 

"The LEAST Informative School Ranking Ever Developed!" http://ow.ly/BHBN9  Boston Magazine feat. XKCD's Randall Munroe

 

 

Afternoon Audio: Recovering 50,000 Dropouts Is Chicago's Latest Effort

From old-school drive-arounds looking for stray kids to targeted online programs, Chicago's trying to recover 17-21 year olds who could graduate high school. Nothing showing? Here's the link (and also the transcript).

Media: Boston Magazine Botches Rankings, Profiles Firebrand Union Chief

image from cdn1.bostonmagazine.comIn what's at least the 2nd journalistic goof-up that I know of during the annual back-to-school media deluge of rankings and other kinds of education coverage, Boston Magazine messed up its private school rankings badly and the Globe tells us all about it (Boston Magazine retracts school rankings).  

Basically, the magazine ranked private schools using incorrect SAT score averages, using partial data since many schools didn't provide SAT results, thus pushing some schools up higher than they deserved and pushing others down.

This isn't a reason not to rank schools, though.  It's just a motivation to rank them responsibly.  Sloppy, inexplicable efforts like this just make everyone look bad.  Apparently something similarly bad happened the last time the magazine ranked schools in 2009.

All is not lost, however.  The public school list is up, and doesn't seem to have the problems with the private list. The issue also has a profile of union head Barbara Madeloni that you might want to read, and a piece about healthy school lunches that you will probably feel like you've already read. There's also an XKCD alternative list of schools that you might find amusing.

Image courtesy Boston Magazine

Related posts: FiveThirty-Eight StumblesActually, Ranking High Schools Can Be Enormously Useful.

Quotes: What Happens When You Write About Reform Efforts

Quotes2I get accused of hating teachers, teachers unions, and (a few times) white people. I get told that I’m a secret agent for Pearson, Bill Gates, the United Nations, and sometimes even the Muslim Brotherhood (really. No—REALLY). This isn’t occasional. It happens every time.

- New America's Conor Williams on the overwhelming and often vitriolic reactions he gets when writing anything remotely positive about reform strategies

Morning Video: Debating -- And Voting On -- The Common Core

NPR and Town Square recently held a debate on Common Core during which -- according to EdWeek's Mark Walsh -- opponents made the better arguments but proponents won the audience vote. Click here if the video doesn't load properly: Embrace The Common Core.

AM News: Chicago's Emanuel Backs Down On Obama High School

Connecticut Governor To Arne Duncan: Let's Start a Dialogue About Testing PK12: He's considering allowing eleventh graders who, he writes, may be among the most overtested students, to take the Scholastic Aptitude Test or SAT, during the school day, in lieu of the Smarter Balanced high school exam. 

Amid controversy, Emanuel drops plan to name school after Obama Sun Times: Top mayoral aides stressed that the selective enrollment high school — with space for 1,200 high-achieving students — would still be built on the Near North Side, but the park location may change in response to community concerns.

DC mayoral candidates clash over education AP: Democratic nominee Muriel Bowser has pledged to speed up school reform in the District of Columbia, where hundreds of teachers have been fired for poor performance under an evaluation system installed by the previous chancellor, Michelle Rhee. Bowser has pledged to retain Chancellor Kaya Henderson, who is less politically polarizing than Rhee but has maintained and fine-tuned her policies. The chancellor reports solely to the mayor.

To Get More Out of Science, Show the Rejected Research NYT: A proposal aims to address the problem of studies that go unpublished even though their findings can be important.

Karen Lewis on CTU and mayoral run: 'Yes, I can do both jobs' Chicago Sun-Times: Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said on Thursday she doesn't see a problem with staying put in her high-profile position with labor should she decide to run for mayor. 

Report critical of charter school oversight EdSource Today: A lack of oversight of the nation's charter schools has led to too many cases of fraud and abuse and too little attention to equity, according to a new report that offers recommendations to remedy the situation

Karen Lewis Tweets for Donations: 'Help Me Make a Decision' NBC Chicago: Still undecided on running for mayor, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewisis soliciting supporters on Twitter to help pad her campaign war chest with enough money to go up against Rahm Emanuel's millions.

Why Girls Get Better Grades Than Boys Do The Atlantic: Grading policies were revamped and school officials smartly decided to furnish kids with two separate grades each semester. One grade was given for good work habits and citizenship, which they called a “life skills grade.” A “knowledge grade” was given based on average scores across important tests. Tests could be retaken at any point in the semester, provided a student was up to date on homework.

Districts Faced Challenges Implementing Federal Performance-Pay Grants Teacher Beat: Teachers seem to have been confused about some of the details of a federally financed bonus-pay program.

How do you find high school dropouts? WBEZ: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel made a bunch of promises three years ago when he was running for office—especially when it came to education. He’s checked off some of them – a longer school day, more preschool, a focus on principals. But now his administration is ramping up attention to one the stickiest challenges: re-enrolling the city’s more than 50,000 dropouts.

Embrace The Common Core NPR: This episode of Intelligence Squared comes on the heels of four weeks of education specials from American RadioWorks aired on WNYC.Airs Saturday, September 20 at 6am on 93.9FM and 7am and 2pm on AM 820.

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: 50 States Allow Parents To Hit Kids; 20 Allow Teachers

Hitting your kids is legal in all 50 states TIME ti.me/1ASGwgt [Legal for teachers in 20.]

State appropriations to early care and education programs increased by 3.8% ($368.8 million) in FY 14 - modo.ly/1nNSGRS via @NCSLorg

Gates-funded news shows @npr_ed & @LearningCurveEd shld bolster disclosure, saysCurrent.org ow.ly/BEfNJ

"When in doubt, blame the teachers and their union." | Diane Ravitch's blog ow.ly/BEDPC

With nearly 30k applications, Indiana might be No. 1 in the U.S. for vouchers this year | ow.ly/BEfti @ChalkbeatIN

New Yorker Cartoon: “This is what I learned during my summer at TED camp." ow.ly/BFfC2 via @hotfored

Quotes: Reform Critic's Anti-Democratic, Ad Hominem Attacks (Might Be Working)

Quotes2Non-teachers don’t count (unless they’re Diane Ravitch). Parents’ voices are only permitted so long as they avoid direct challenges to failing schools. - New America's Conor Williams (Campbell Brown Is Getting The Same Treatment Michelle Rhee Got)

 

AM News: Triggering 20 Columbus Schools, Paying Rent For 70 NYC Charters

Nearly 1 in 5 Columbus Schools Qualify for Overhauls Under Parent-Trigger Law EdWeek: Three years after Ohio enacted a limited "parent trigger" law, nearly one-fifth of Columbus schools now qualify for major leadership overhauls if parents choose to initiate them.

Nearly 70 city charter schools covered by suit seeking facility funds ChalkbeatNY: Most of the nearly 200 charter schools that opened under Mayor Michael Bloomberg received free space in city-owned buildings. But 68 charter schools, serving 25,000 students, operate in private buildings and spend, according to one tally, an extra $2,300 for every student on facilities.

TFA Founder Voices Skepticism of Edtech EdSurge: Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach for America and Teach for All, is skeptical about the potential of technology as a cure-all in education. At a NationSwell Council event on September 12, she described her visit to Microsoft’s School of the Future in Philadelphia.

How To Make The Most Of Your 10 Minutes With Teacher NPR: Like a good Boy Scout, parents should be prepared: Educators agree that doing your homework can make a big difference. Here's expert advice on how to ace your next parent-teacher conference.

Rethinking A Fall Classic: The Parent-Teacher Conference WNYC: The New York City schools are overhauling the time, and format, of these conferences in an attempt to add depth and meaning. Among the changes: They'll be held four times a year instead of just two.

School district police stock up free military gear AP: School police departments across the country have taken advantage of free military surplus gear, stocking up on mine resistant armored vehicles, grenade launchers and scores of M16 rifles....

What's Happening At East Ramapo? WNYC:  Governor Cuomo has appointed a fiscal monitor, there's a district lawsuit over special education funding, and public school buildings have been sold. 

Hey Karen Lewis, I can still read your Tweets Chicago Sun-Times: This might come as a shock to Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis. But I can read her Tweets. I say this because for some reason months ago, Lewis blocked me as a follower after I tried sending her a direct message to follow up on a story.

What’s next *if* Deasy is out? Speculation abounds LA School Report: The seven-member elected school board, often split between Deasy supporters and Deasy critics, could deem his performance over the last year “unsatisfactory” at a his annual review slated for next month, automatically preventing his contract from rolling over into a new year. Or Deasy could choose to quit.

Some Chicago Parents Say School Closures Created Problems EdWeek: After the closure of 49 schools in 2013, some Chicago Public Schools' parents say they are concerned about classroom overcrowding and $50 million in district budget cuts this year.

School Held Ring Until Mom Paid for Summer School NBC News: An Ohio mom's diamond ring is held by the local school district, until she can pay her son's summer school tuition in full, and he could move into the 8th grade.

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: LA Mayor's Slow Slide Away From Vergara

First, Garcetti softened on Vergara ow.ly/BCnZR Now he's endorsed Vergara opponent Torlakson ow.ly/BCnzi

Maybe reformers aren't going to leave Rahm hanging after all ow.ly/BByrx @DFER_IL  @libbyanelson @HeatherHJ

Louisiana CommonCore snafus are "A fiasco caused by one person," according to Chas Roemer ow.ly/BBZIl #blamecommoncore

Martin West says the public wants teachers evaluated using test scores #frizzle ow.ly/BBVQO [But PDK Gallup says otherwise]

‘A National Admissions Office’ for Low-Income Strivers -NYTimes.com ow.ly/BBVwo QuestBridge via @ScholasticAdms

Does Moving Poor People Work? - Not without other changes, apparently  NYTimes.com  ow.ly/BBLhd  Mentions @KIPP

Federal Program Supplies Surplus Military Gear to Schools - WSJ ow.ly/BBy2W [But LAUSD's giving back grenade launchers]

Thompson: Value-Added True Believers Should Listen to Principals

Sadly, a new Gates-funded study, "Principal Use of Teacher Effectiveness Measures for Talent Management Decisions," provides an ideal metaphor for what is wrong with value-added evaluations, in particular, and corporate school reform, in general.

I do not question the quality of work of its authors - Ellen Goldring, Christine M. Neumerski, Mollie Rubin, Marisa Cannata, Timothy Drake, Jason A. Grissom and Patrick Schuermann, or its findings.

The problem is that the report seems to assume that principals who do not agree with the Gates Foundation are incorrect and need retraining; it doesn't consider the possibility that value-added models aren't appropriate for teacher evaluations. 

Goldring et. al found that 84% of the principals they interviewed believed teacher-observation data to be valid "to a large extent" for assessing teacher quality, but only 56% viewed student achievement or growth data to be equally valid. The study acknowledged that value added is perceived to have “many shortcomings.” Principals have doubts whether the data will hold up to official grievance processes. Principals also perceive that teachers have little trust in teacher effectiveness data.

Education Week’s Denisa Superville reports that value added expert Douglas Harris echoes the findings, “the results confirmed feedback he had received from other educators about the challenges in using teacher-evaluation systems.”

Rather than ask whether principals know something about the real world use of statistical models that Gates doesn’t understand, Goldring et. al recommend that systems “clarify their expectations for how principals should use data and what data sources should be used for specific human-resources decisions.” In other words, they apparently believe that more training in value-added estimates will convince educators that the theorists have been correct all along.

Continue reading "Thompson: Value-Added True Believers Should Listen to Principals" »

Media: Who Influences Education Coverage Better -- Reform Critics Or Funders?

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comProfessional journalism has always been paid for -- by subscriptions, retail purchases, and advertisers -- and journalists have always had to defend their integrity both internally and to the public.  

The arrival of foundation-funded journalism has re-ignited some of those discussions, understandably, but without alas any seeming awareness of the long (and sometimes awkward) history of previous ways of paying for journalism.  

Pretty much every outlet that's taken foundation funding for education coverage -- Chalkbeat, NPR, NBC, PBS come to mind -- has had its credibility questioned.  Others -- Marketplace! ProPublica!-- will surely soon hear the same complaint.

The latest concern is the Seattle Times' "Education Lab" experiment, which has for the last year or so focused on something called "Solutions Journalism" using funding from the Gates Foundation. A blogger who goes by the name Deutch29 wrote a post about the effort, claiming that the stories being produced were obviously influenced by the Gates Foundation's agenda, and that the Times wasn't being open about how much money it had received.

Comments from journalists involved with the effort (reporter Claudia Rowe among them) attempted to reassure readers that there was "zero communication" between the foundation and the newsroom and pointed out that the blog posts pointed to as evidence were just a handful out of hundreds. SJN co-founder David Bornstein (who spoke at a recent EWA conference) weighed in with a comment that the foundation's support allowed the paper to assign reporters to deeper, more investigative pieces than would otherwise have been possible.

What's left out of all the back and forth is any clear sense of whether coverage at the Times or more generally is skewed one way or another -- my seat-of-the-pants sense is that it has swung in recent years from pro-reform credulity to anti-reform credulity -- and the understanding that reform critics such as these -- who swarm journalists' Twitter feeds and complain to editors and anyone else they can find -- are themselves trying to influence the coverage of education initiatives much the same as they believe the Gates Foundation and others are trying to do indirectly.  

They're just doing it directly, at much lower cost -- and at times it seems much more effectively.

Image CC.

Newsmakers: A New TFA For A New Era?

Screen shot 2014-09-17 at 1.26.47 PM
The latest issue of Scholastic Administrator includes my interview with TFA co-CEOs Matt Kramer and Elisa Villanueva-Beard. There's no breaking news but it's interesting to hear how they divvy up the work and how much harder the job seems to have been than they could have imagined a year ago. 

Related posts: 12 Problems With Politico's TFA Story (+1 With TFA)Howard Dean Touts TFATraditional Teachers Much, Much Whiter Than TFATFA Under The Microscope;  Key Takeaways From The NJ TFA Media PanelSo Long -- I'm Quitting Blogging & Joining TFA

 

Teachers: Poor Leadership, Inflammatory Coverage Diminish Public Perceptions

Veteran Chicago Public Schools teacher and blogger Ray Salazar -- who recently explained why he chose a charter school for one of his children -- now has an interesting take on yesterday's PDK/Gallup poll results on his blog (Three reasons people don’t trust teachers).  

Public trust in teachers is down (along with support for test-based teacher evaluation), notes Salazar. But teachers aren't in charge of how they're perceived, or many of the factors that shape public opinion.

Who or what is?

Ineffective and incoherent leadership at the district level -- including union leadership -- is factor #1, according to Salazar. "Honestly, as I stood on the picket line in 2012, I struggled to articulate why we were striking for the first time in 27 years," remembers Salazar. (Another strike is possible soon.)

Factor #2 is "inflammatory" coverage of the schools, fueled by "mostly white activists, many of whom haven’t taught in our schools," who are quoted as authorities in the media and teachers -- especially minority teachers -- are ignored. Salazar blames the media for focusing on relatively minor flaws in the system -- a front page story about teacher certification -- rather than reporting large-scale successes like teachers helping students win millions in scholarships.

Last but not least, district mandates are overwhelming classroom teachers with requirements. "Today, a typical Chicago high school teacher has 150 students and must enter 300-450 grades a week (2-3 per student) on a highly public and scrutinized gradebook system. Our teacher evaluation, while no longer a checklist that mentions bulletin boards, is a time-absorbing exercise that will not help a teacher improve if the administrator lacks instructional expertise.

Morning Video: PBS NewsHour Builds A Better Teacher*

Trust in teachers is down, and support for better (more rigorous, clinical) teacher prep is up. PBS NewsHour goes into it with Dana Goldstein Elizabeth Green. First broadcast last night. Online extra here.

AM News: Another CA Lawsuit Challenges Teachers Union Practices

Lawsuit challenges teachers’ compulsory dues EdSource Today: A lawsuit working its way through the courts is striking at the core of the California Teachers Association’s power: its authority to automatically deduct hundreds of millions of dollars a year in dues from the paychecks of both members and non-members.

LAUSD police to give up some weaponry obtained in federal program LA Times: Los Angeles Unified school police officials said Tuesday that the department will relinquish some of the military weaponry it acquired through a federal program that furnishes local law enforcement with surplus equipment. The move comes as education and civil rights groups have called on the...

Teachers union urges board to fire Deasy LA School Report: UTLA says it wants the board to downgrade Deasy’s performance to “unsatisfactory” at his annual evaluation, scheduled to take place behind closed doors on October 21. That would effectively spell the end to the superintendent’s contract which – at his own insistence – stipulates he meet performance targets set by the board.

What’s the best way to teach teachers? PBS NewsHour: An annual poll out today by Gallup and Phi Delta Kappa finds that majorities of Americans believe teacher preparation should be more rigorous.  There was also support for stronger certification requirements and evaluations, more training and practice time for teaching candidates, and opposition to using student test results to evaluate teachers. A new book explores what better teaching may look like.

Bobby Jindal Trusts Science Except When He Doesn't Huffington Post: America needs a leader to bridge the widening gulf between faith and science, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a devout Roman Catholic with Ivy League-level science training, thinks he can be that person.

Wealthy L.A. Schools' Vaccination Rates Are as Low as South Sudan's Hollywood Reporter: Hollywood parents say not vaccinating makes "instinctive" sense. Now their kids have whooping cough.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Another CA Lawsuit Challenges Teachers Union Practices" »

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Shifting Public Opinion On Teachers, Teaching

Americans Want Teachers to Take a Bar Exam - The Atlantic ow.ly/Bz3Dd  @EmilyRichmond @EWAEmily

Tom Kane doubles down on combining #commoncore & teacher evaluation in @EducationNext ow.ly/BzlaA

Common Core and the Era of Good Behavior - How long will it last? @smarick @rhess99 @MichaelPetrilli ow.ly/BzmJv

Time for Reformers, Educators to Work Together - @Eduflack http://ow.ly/ByFjZ  @edu_post

Vox raises possibility reformers let Rahm face Lewis/AFT alone bit.ly/1shNabk Repeat of Fenty/Gray? @dropoutnation @mikeantonnuci

Pension reform isn't the same as pension theft, @ChadAldeman reminds @DanaGoldstein Education Next ow.ly/BzkX7

Afternoon Video: Preview Of Tonight's PBS NewsHour Teacher Preparation Segment

Here's a preview of the PBS NewsHour segment on Elizabeth Green's teacher preparation book; the full version is slated to air tonight.

Books: I Trust That You Will Find This Useful

Screen shot 2014-09-16 at 1.14.43 PMUlrich Boser's new book, The Leap, is about the science of trust and includes some education-related policy implications you might want to check out.

In the policymakers' guide that comes along with the book, Boser addresses some of the things that can be done to empower individuals through education, including:

• Support schools that lengthen the school day.
• Reform school funding so that it’s both more equitable and effective, and have school dollars follow children instead of programs.
• Make college more affordable through Pell Grants.• Allow college students to gain credit for learn-
ing outside the classroom.
 
There's also good reading on trust and public policy in Robert Putnam's writings such as here.
 
Most directly comparable of all is the work that Tony Bryk and others have done at the University of Chicago showing that trust among adults and kids is an important condition for effective learning. 
 
Boser is a longtime fellow/contributor at CAP and has another book after this one already in the works.
 

Quotes: Reformers "Don't Hurry To Claim" Chicago Or Emanuel

Quotes2While Emanuel is a supporter of charter schools who's generally seen as being a reform-friendly, reformers don't hurry to claim Chicago as a hotbed of change, which could blunt the election's symbolic weight. - Vox's Libby Nelson (What the Chicago mayor's race says about the future of education politics).

Media: We Need More Teacher Union Coverage -- Right?*

The sad but unsurprising news from this recent On The Media segment (The Labor Beat) is that labor coverage has dwindled sharply in the mainstream press -- down to just a couple of fulltime labor beat reporters at major national papers (WSJ and NYT).  

What's fascinating to note is that there's so little labor-focused coverage in education newsgathering operations, too -- even as there are new (especially small nonprofit) education-focused journalism operations sprouting up all over the place.

The argument for labor coverage in education is pretty straightforward.  Union numbers may be dwindling sharply in the private sector and other parts of the public sector, too, but last I looked charter schools (most of them non-union) educate less than 10 percent of the students in America and union representation of district school teachers is at around 50 percent.

Labor is and will continue to be a big part of the K-12 education space for the foreseeable future, and yet other than the occasional controversy or flareup unions and laws surrounding them get surprisingly little coverage.

EdWeek's Steven Sawchuk handles the issue as best he can over at Teacher Beat, but he's also got every other teacher-related issue under the sun to cover (research, politics, etc.).  EIA's Mike Antonucci is the only full-time, labor-focused person out there that I know of -- and his coverage (if not his reporting) are generally critical-minded.

Given how many teachers there are -- and how important and influential (and in some corners controversial) teachers unions are, you'd think there'd be more regular, in-depth coverage.  

Or is there more ongoing coverage out there than I'm seeing?

*I should have included RiShawn Biddle's coverage of teachers unions at Dropout Nation, including updates like this one.

AM News: District NCLB Waivers, Charter Expansions, Chicago

NCLB waiver extended for seven districts EdSource:  After months of negotiations, seven California school districts have received a one-year extension of the waivers from the federal government exempting them from key provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind Act in return for meeting a slew of new requirements. See also PK12.

Charter school enrollments increased by 13 percent nationally Washington Post: Nationwide, about 2.5 million public school students were enrolled in charter schools last school year, up from 789,000 a decade earlier, according to the most recent enrollment estimates from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. 

David Boies, eyeing education through a civil rights lens Washington Post: David Boies, the superlawyer who chairs a group that is trying to overturn teacher tenure laws in New York and elsewhere, said Monday that his organization is not looking to take the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court — at least not in the short run.

What the Chicago mayor's race says about the future of education politics Vox: Political observers say Lewis and her confrontational style had an immediate effect on the Chicago Teachers Union's umbrella group, the American Federation of Teachers. While Emanuel is a supporter of charter schools who's generally seen as being a reform-friendly, reformers don't hurry to claim Chicago as a hotbed of change, which could blunt the election's symbolic weight.

California school district rewrites menu for student lunches PBS NewsHour: Finally tonight:  With the new school year now in full swing, one urban district in California [Oakland] is implementing an ambitious plan to transform their lunch program to provide healthier, locally sourced food.

The Case for Having Class Discussions on Twitter Atlantic: Lively debate and direct quotes continue to fill the threads four hours after school has ended. Students upload pictures of their annotated texts and ask their classmates to help them understand the nuances of iambic pentameter.

New Rochelle Struggles Amid Rice’s Unraveling NYT: Now that Ray Rice, a hometown football hero, has been dismissed from the Baltimore Ravens and suspended indefinitely from the National Football League, the New Rochelle High School community is struggling to determine how to react.

Regents Weigh New Routes to a High School Diploma WNYC: If approved by the Regents next month, high school students could substitute one of the two social studies exams with a test in career and technical education, the arts or humanities. They would still have to take Regents exams in English, math and science to meet federal requirements. See also ChalkbeatNY

Chicago Schools CEO: privatizing janitorial services not 'as smooth as we would like' WBEZ: CPS employs 825 custodian positions that are covered by SEIU Local 73 and none of those positions are being cut, according to district officials. However, many of those board-funded janitors have been reassigned to cover other schools as a result of the layoffs.

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Why Are There Still So Few Quality Voc-Ed Programs?

MA vocational schools unable to educate enough - The Boston Globe ow.ly/Bw9cL

In face of broad vendor claims, some districts rate#commoncore materials for quality ow.ly/Bx140

Eduwonk also questions @libbyanelson's Vox critique of HS ratings ow.ly/BwYbB My orig post here ow.ly/BwZab

NY union local upset with AFT head @rweingarten for making calls on behalf of Cuomo running mate ow.ly/BwXQg

More names from @Larryferlazzo for my ow.ly/BwBv1 list: @DrCamikaRoyal @Roxanna_Elden @WhiteRhinoRay@Lily_NEA @TeachMoore

#TheTeacherWars' @DanaGoldstein takes a narrow lead with a New Yorker mention/review ow.ly/Bwu3n

"This is not research but pamphlet. Unfortunate misinformation. Myths rather than facts." says Pasi Sahlberg

 

Thompson: How Chicago Increased Graduation Rates

The single most successful reform in any of my old schools was the establishment of Freshmen Academies. We had very little money to invest in school improvements, but our high schools got the biggest bang for the buck from a "High Touch," team effort to get 9th graders on track.

Our successes were consistent with the findings of the Consortium on Chicago School Research (CCSR) which show, “Graduation is mostly determined in the ninth grade year.” 

The CCSR’s Tim Knowles, in Chicago Isn't Waiting for Superman,  reports that, for the second year in a row, Chicago’s graduation rate jumped 4%. It is now a record-high 69.4%. 

Chicago focused “on what research told school leaders would matter most," keeping freshmen on track to graduate" by improving their attendance and tailoring interventions to particular students’ needs. Knowles explains, “The new focus compelled greater problem-solving and collaboration among teachers and administrators committed to ensuring every single student was on-track for graduation.” 

He says that it “might sound small or obvious,” but “the focus on freshman on-track represented a major psychological and cultural shift for school leaders.” 

Policy people tend to lack an understanding of “promoting power,” and putting teens on "positive trajectories." Repeated failure does no good for anyone, but success breeds success.  

The focus on test scores has distracted adults from what really matters, helping students progress.  It might (or might not) be good when the average student correctly answers a couple more bubble-in test questions, but what do those numbers really mean? When educators and students work together, and kids make it over the finish line, however, we know something meaningful was accomplished. –JT(drjohnthompson) 

Quotes: A Parent's Response To Her Child's Test Anxiety

Quotes2Yes, she has test anxiety. Yes, she has cried... I comfort her, but I tell her: ‘I make $14.42 an hour. What are you going to do to have a better life?.' - Success Academy parent Natasha Shannon in the NYT (The Battle for New York Schools)

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Media: This More Diverse List Of "Top Education Tweeters" Needs More Names*

A somewhat more diverse version of Education Dive's recent 12 education thought leaders you should follow on Twitter might include who(m), exactly? 

Off the top of my head -- without much concern for how much I agree or disagree with them (and vice versa) -- how about Chicago's Xian Barrett (@xianb8),LA's Liz Dwyer (@losangelista),NYC's Jose Vilson (@theJLV), NYCAN's Derrell Bradford (@Dyrnwyn), ProPublica's Nikole Hannah Jones  (@nhannahjones), The Atlantic's Ta-Nehesi Coates (@tanehisicoates), The Lens' Jessica Williams (@williamslensnola), Dropout Nation's RiShawn Biddle (@dropoutnation), the NEA's Melinda Anderson (@mdawriter) and Education Post's Chris Stewart (@citizenstewart).

Others to add, suggest, or critique?  There are two more spots to get to an even 12.  Or, take issue with the whole notion of creating such a list in the first place. 

Thanks for the suggestion, Heather Harding (@heatherHJ)!  Education Dive's original list includes a mix of men and women but only two POC that I know of (LDH and Michelle R.).

*Additional names that have been suggested (on Twitter and Facebook) since the original posting include @drsteveperry, @jmsummers, and @drkamikaroyal.   

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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.