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Maps: Most Suburbs Out-Graduate City Districts - Except Perhaps El Paso

image from p6cdn4static.sharpschool.com

From the Hechinger Report's Sarah Butrymowicz, who's been diving into graduation data from around the country: "I would love to find a major city school district graduating more students than its suburban counterparts because of academic excellence. For now the only city I can find outperforming its suburbs is El Paso, Texas, and there it’s because the suburbs are performing poorly."

AM News: Weather Delays NYC Charter Rally; Chicago Principals Protest Special Ed Cuts

After weather postpones education rally, debate on the ground likely to continue ChalkbeatNY: The rallies, which Families for Excellent Schools has staged since 2013, have become a potent weapon in the larger political battle the group is waging with the teachers union to influence education policy in the city and state. That battle has intensified as charter-school enrollment has grown to nearly 100,000 students and the city government under Mayor Bill de Blasio has cooled to the charter movement, which grew rapidly under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Special education cuts get focus at CPS board meeting WBEZ: Principals found out over the weekend that more special needs staff would be eliminated. CPS has never before cut special education staff after the first day of school. Officials said it was due to enrollment, but there was no correlation between enrollment declines and special education staffing cuts. Those cuts came in addition to 500 positions that were eliminated over the summer. See also Tribune.

Math content in schools adding to achievement gap, new study finds Washington Post: A peer-reviewed study published in the journal of the American Educational Research Association estimated that nearly 40 percent of the gap in U.S. student performance in math can be traced to that unequal access; the researchers attributed the remaining 60 percent to family and community background.

Graduation Rates Surge for D.C. Public Schools, Reaching 64 Percent in 2015 Washington Post: The percentage of high school students who graduated from D.C. Public Schools in four years increased by six points for the Class of 2015, reaching 64 percent, a significant boost after several years of incremental growth. A closely watched statistic in the District — and one that city leaders have vowed to improve — the graduation rate still rests well below the national average of 81 percent.

New York May Implement 'Total Reboot' On Common Core Daily Caller: Some of the names on the panel are national education figures: Randi Weingarten is president of the American Federation of Teachers, the country's second-largest teachers union, and Geoffrey Canada is president of the Harlem Children's Zone

Shift $15 Billion in Prison Spending to Teacher Raises, Arne Duncan Urges PK12: The education secretary says that much could be saved by redirecting some non-violent offenders away from prison, and the money used to boost salaries at high-poverty schools. See also Washington Post.

In Houston's Gifted Program, Critics Say Blacks And Latinos Are Overlooked NPR: Houston school leaders asked Ford to take a close look at their enrollment in the program, and she gave it a failing grade. "Racial bias has to be operating, inequities are rampant. Discrimination does exist whether intentional or unintentional," she told the school board in May of this year.

History Repeats Itself in Brooklyn School Rezoning WNYC: There are indeed strong parallels between the situation with P.S. 307 now, and how P.S. 8 was viewed in the community, said David Goldsmith, president of the Community Education Council for District 13.  

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

Continue reading "AM News: Weather Delays NYC Charter Rally; Chicago Principals Protest Special Ed Cuts" »

Books: An Anthropological Look At School Fundraising

image from www.tinyspark.orgI don't know much of anything about this, but a new book called A Good Investment? is coming out and it's written up at Tiny Spark (When a School Markets Students as Charity Cases):

"Amy Brown’s forthcoming book examines how a NYC public high school managed its image to donors and critiques big philanthropy’s role in public education. A Good Investment? Philanthropy and the Marketing of Race in an Urban Public School is based on her two years at the pseudonymous “College Prep Academy.”

According to LinkedIn, Brown is a "Critical Writing Fellow at University of Pennsylvania Critical Writing Program."

Magazines: Why You Should Read Ta-Nehisi Coates' Atlantic Magazine Cover Story

There are lots of reasons not to read the latest Atlantic Magazine cover story, penned by Ta-Nehisi Coates: It's not about education. It's super-depressing. It's long. 

But there are some really good reasons to read it, anyway: It's at least partly about education. You'll learn some things you didn't know, probably.

First and foremost, Coates reminds us that so many of the people who end up incarcerated have been failed not only by society but also by schools:

"They just passed him on and passed him on." 

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 "I don’t know, it just didn’t look like a person of his age should be writing like that.”
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You'll also learned that the prison industry is now $80 billion a year, that it employs large numbers of mostly white workers to incarcerate large numbers of mostly black or brown prisoners, and that one of the people who predicted this period -- former US Senator Patrick Moynihan -- believed even way back then that service programs like Head Start wouldn't be enough to balance out the decades of mistreatment inflicted on black families. 

It -- along with The Case For Reparations and Coates' recent book, Between The World...., might well be the most-read and -remembered pieces of nonfiction writing of the last couple of years. 

Continue reading "Magazines: Why You Should Read Ta-Nehisi Coates' Atlantic Magazine Cover Story" »

Quotes: Current Reform "Missing Pieces," Needs Mid-Course Corrections

Quotes2The approach to school reform starting with “A Nation at Risk” has run its course, and left us with this yawning gap that endangers America’s future, let alone that of these kids. It let officials at all levels talk tough about educational improvement, but without pursuing evidenced-based strategies and making mid-course corrections as required.

-- Chris Edley in EdSource (‘Several missing pieces to the current batch of reforms’)

Events: Reflections On Last Night's Newark Panel

While we're waiting for the event to be discussed on WNYC's Brian Lehrer later this morning, let me tell you what a strange, interesting time it was to my eyes in Newark yesterday evening at the WNYC-hosted panel to discuss the past and future of the Newark schools.

As has already been reported, the news out of the event was that while there's no clear timeline for returning the district to local control -- and no clear legal mechanism for doing so -- Cerf says that there will be no attempt to increase the percentage of kids being served by charter schools, either.

That's probably reassuring to charter critics and those who are focused on the district schools that still serve two thirds of the Newark kids but tremendously disappointing to charter advocates who point to Newark charters' academic success and long waiting lists of parents.  It may also have come as something of a surprise. At least one charter insider in the audience thought that Cerf was going to charterize the district. 

Beyond that news, there were all sorts of moments and dynamics that felt "off" to me (though they may not have had the same effect on other audience members).

First and foremost, there was the visual of Newark mayor Ras Baraka sitting next to grey-haired Chris Cerf, the appointed head of Newark schools. How and why Chris Christie chose an awkward preppy white guy to replace Cami Anderson is unclear to me and can't have been welcome news to Baraka and his supporters. Contrast the move with what happened in DC, where Kaya Henderson succeeded Michelle Rhee.

Part of the tension is structural. The two men are both deeply concerned about Newark schools, but neither is wholly in charge of Newark's mixed school system. The state oversees the school district, but the district doesn't really oversee the charter schools -- an ongoing governance problem raised several times in Russakoff's book. And of course, Cerf is pro-charter, an outsider, and all the rest. 

Unsettling matters further, Baraka and Cerf couldn't seem to decide last night whether they were going rehash and continue past battles that were the subject of Dale Russakoff's book, The Prize, or focus on trying to create the impression of a unified front looking to the future and working together.  They did a bit of both, but seemed like they were veering back towards old beefs as the night went on (and the audience's preference became clear).

Throughout, both men seemed to be resorting to sound bites and talking points rather than candor and honest reflection, though Baraka came off as a much better speaker in this context (and certainly had more of the audience members behind him). His mandate and responsibilities are much more focused. Cerf had the awkward task of defending the past, apologizing for it (including throwing some shade at Booker and Christie), and reassuring the public about future changes. (Cerf: "I suspect there were more than a few cases when now-Sen. Booker and Gov Christie overstated their case.")

By and large, Russakoff was woefully under-used during the 90-minute session, limited to a few initial observations and then left to the sidelines. It would have been especially interesting if Floyd had asked her to confirm or raise questions with the claims that Baraka and Cerf were making (several of which seemed possibly misleading or incomplete to me) or if she had just jumped in and said, "hey, wait a minute -- that's not right." But neither of those things happened. 

Wearing a cropped white jacket and fun glasses, Floyd was an enthusiastic and engaged moderator but seemed to struggle to keep panelist's answers short (especially Cerf) and to deal with audience members who wanted to ask more than one questions or refute panelist's answers to their questions.  Though she's spent a fair amount of time in Newark on this topic in the past few weeks, she also lacked the background information to question Baraka and Cerf's claims herself. (She also apparently had a panelist bow out at the last minute, and was unable to convince the head of the teacher's union to appear at the event though he did sit down for an interview earlier this year.)

She called Cerf out when he tried to glide past some of the past failures, but that was about it. Baraka admitted "of course there's bloating in the district" but that was about it. His answer to why more resources don't get into schools was incomprehensible (to me, at least). His sound bites were awesome, though. ("We can't fight inequality by creating more inequality," for example.)

So neither the moderate nor the journalist panelist was able or willing to do any live fact-checking against the claims being made onstage.

For me personally, it was fascinating to see some of the folks I'd been reading about and listening to in person up on stage, and to see a slew of familiar folks. My Spencer classmate Nancy Solomon was there -- she's currently heading the New Jersey bureau for WNYC. (I also got to meet Sarah Gonzalez, the NJ-based reporter who sometimes covers education for the station.) Former WSJ education reporter Barbara Martinez was in the audience.  Jennifer (Edushyster) Berkshire was somewhere in the audience, too.  

Morning Video: African Education Entrepreneur Wins "Genius" Grant


"Patrick Awuah is an educator and entrepreneur building a new model for higher education in Ghana. Read more here.

Related posts: Roland Fryer Wins MacArthur "Genius" Award (2011);   Deborah Bial: An Education "Genius" (2007); Educator Wins MacArthur "Genius (2010); Will An Educator Win A 2012 MacArthur Grant?The Genius Behind Teach For America (2007).

AM News: NEA To Endorse (Hillary), Apple (But Not Pearson) To Pay LAUSD

National Education Association Could Be Close to Endorsing Hillary Clinton PK12: Sources say that the National Education Association, the country's largest union, could endorse the Democratic candidate in a presidential primary battle as early as Friday.

LAUSD board to vote on $6.4M settlement proposal with Apple over iPad software KPCC: Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Ramon Cortines told board members this week he’s negotiated a $6.4 million settlement with Apple Inc. and tech company Lenovo to resolve a dispute over faulty software on the tablets they sold to the district.

Arne Duncan to Charter Schools: Here's Millions in Grants, Be More Responsible PK12: The U.S. Department of Education is awarding millions under the Charter School Program to fund new charters and expand high-performing networks. See also Washington Post.

School Choice Fan Rep. Kevin McCarthy Could Be Next Speaker PK12: The California Republican, elected in 2006, doesn't have nearly as long a resume on K-12 as did current Speaker John Boehner going into the job.

New numbers show teacher prep numbers still falling SI&A Cabinet Report: Despite school districts statewide complaining about a shortage of credentialed applicants, a new report shows enrollment in teacher preparation programs in California continues to decline.

Teachers Union Criticizes Charter Perk WSJ: The new ability of New York charter schools to set aside seats for employees’ children drew fire Monday from the United Federation of Teachers, which said such “nepotism” defied charters’ stated goals of serving the neediest children. 

Michelle Obama highlights education with #62milliongirls CNN: On Saturday, first lady Michelle Obama announced a new campaign during the star-studded Global Citizen Festival in New York's Central Park to raise awareness of the issue. 

As Worries Rise and Players Flee, a Missouri School Board Cuts Football NYT: With safety concerns growing and more students choosing to play soccer and other sports, the football team at a suburban St. Louis high school was disbanded.

Google Virtual-Reality System Aims to Enliven Education NYT: Expeditions, a field-trip simulation program, will be offered free to schools as Google works to further develop virtual-reality technology.

Why wealthy Loudoun County does not have universal full-day kindergarten Washington Monthly: The superintendent of Loudoun County schools wants to expand full-day kindergarten, but it will be costly.

Chicago principals blindsided by more cuts to special needs WBEZ: In an unprecedented move, Chicago Public Schools plans to cut another $12 million from special education based on official enrollment numbers released late last week. Typically, special education staffing is left alone once the school year begins.

3 years later, results of LAUSD's arts experiment are mixed KPCC: In 2012, Los Angeles Unified school board members made arts instruction a core subject, designating it as important as subjects like math and English.  A KPCC analysis of the most recent district data found that at about 100 elementary schools, the vast majority of students get no arts instruction.

Aurora Bridge Crash: International Students Far From Family, But Not Alone Seattle Public Radio: Seattle-area community college students are planning a vigil this week to remember the five international students who lost their lives on the Aurora Bridge. That’s just one example of how students here help each other. Foreign students are thousands of miles away from their families, but they’re not alone.

Teaching: MasterClass Features Household Names Teaching What They Know


Watch out, Khan Academy, TED Talks, Coursera, and all the others who are trying to educate America via video. According to the NYT, here comes MasterClass, in which folks like Serena Williams, James Patterson, Usher, and Dustin Hoffman share their knowledge for $90 a course.

Campaign 2016: No, Sanders Doesn't Oppose Universal Education

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 1.42.57 PM

"A chart on the Internet said that Sanders does not support "requiring all children to have a K-12 education."

"However, it bases this claim on writings and campaigns from more than 40 years ago, and more recent legislative evidence indicates that Sanders supports a traditional view of K-12 education.

"We rate the claim False."

PolitiFact: Web graphic says Bernie Sanders doesn't support compulsory K-12 education

Maps: Where The 21 "Agency Fee" States Are -- For Now

image from educationnext.org
"Twenty-one states [in green] currently allow unions to collect agency fees to cover collective bargaining costs, and the unions in those states would have to reorganize if the plaintiffs win the Friedrichs case." New article via Education Next.

Quotes: Noguero On Why Obama Picked/Kept Duncan (& If Duncan Really Cares)

Quotes2Even though I have disagreed with many of his policies, positions and statements, I do think he actually cares about poor children. Just goes to show that "caring" is not enough to create good, effective policy.

- Pedro Noguero on Arne Duncan (via Facebook).

Quotes: Noguero On Why Obama Picked/Kept Duncan (& If Duncan Really Cares)

Quotes2Even though I have disagreed with many of his policies, positions and statements, I do think he actually cares about poor children. Just goes to show that "caring" is not enough to create good, effective policy.

- Pedro Noguero on Arne Duncan (via Facebook).

Pictures: Drop-Off Time At Two Adjacent Schools

The juxtaposed pictures of two schools during drop-off time accompanied last week's New York Times story about a proposed zoning change that would send students from one school to the other.

Morning Video: Pro-Charter Ad Slams NYC's De Blasio Gets Criticized As Racist

Politico New York's Eliza Shapiro posted this video from Families For Excellent Schools and wrote about it last week (New charter ad hits de Blasio on race). Then came the followup story in which some folks denounced the ad as being overly divisive (Critics call new charter school ad 'racist'). 

While it makes some uneasy, descriptions and accusations related to race and racism are all over the place in the past few years, including recent comments from Derrell Bradford, Ta-Nehisi Coates' new book, #educolor, and the This American Life series related to school integration. Just last week, white affluent Brooklyn parents were being accused of racism in response to a proposed school zoning stage (and affluent white parents in Chicago were being praised for their open-mindedness).  Over the weekend, Elizabeth Warren gave a speech related to #BlackLivesMatter.

On the substance of the matter, the NYT editorial page recently suggested that the DOE needed to move further, faster on failing schools. ProPublic recently slammed the universal preschool program for not adding enough low-income (minority) students. But he's also launched a big new initiative related to economic equality.

Related posts: Ta-Nehesi Coates' New Book On Race (& Schooling)Your Individual Racism Isn't Really The ProblemWorst Schools = The "New" Plantation.

AM News: Boehner Resignation Could Hinder ESEA Reauthorization

House Speaker Boehner, Key Architect of NCLB, to Resign From Congress PK12:&nbsdivp;Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, was the chairman of the House Education and the Workforce committee when Congress passed the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001, and played a key role in shepherding NCLB through the legislative process. See also Washington Post.

LAUSD board to vote on $6.4 million settlement proposal with Apple over iPad software KPCC: Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Ramon Cortines told board members this week he’s negotiated a $6.4 million settlement with Apple Inc. and tech company Lenovo to resolve a dispute over faulty software on the tablets they sold to the district. Most of the settlement money will come from Apple.

Beyoncé, Michelle Obama, and Malala Yousafzai Unite to Push for Girls' Education
TIME: Women and girls took center stage at the Global Citizen Festival in New York City on Saturday night, with Beyoncé, Michelle Obama and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai rallying more than 60,000 fans in support of girls' education. See also USNWR.

Study: Principals Satisfied with TFA Teachers Atlanta Journal Constitution: Most principals are satisfied with the Teach for America teachers in their buildings, according to a study released today by the RAND Corporation. 

Black math scores lag the most in segregated schools Hechinger: More than half of the achievement gap could be attributed to factors inside the school.  Only about 15 percent of the achievement gap could be attributed to inequities in funding and resources between schools. The remainder of the achievement gap is an unexplained mystery. See also Washington Post.

Test scores complicate the debate over expanding L.A. charter schools LA Times: As the battle to greatly expand charter schools in Los Angeles begins, both sides are touting statistics they claim make their case.

White House honors teenager who inspires girls to do computer coding Washington Post: Swetha Prabakaran, 15, runs a nonprofit to teach elementary schoolers about computer coding.

Education Department Restarts Peer-Review of Tests PK12: States that have adopted new tests, or made significant changes to their old ones, will have to undergo peer review by the U.S. Department of Education within the next four to eight months, according to department officials.

How One Principal is Trying to Get More Black Men Into the Classroom Washington Post: One Philadelphia principal is trying to do his part by launching a new organization that aims to bring together Philly’s black male educators and provide them with professional support to thrive in their jobs.
More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).

Continue reading "AM News: Boehner Resignation Could Hinder ESEA Reauthorization" »

Thompson: Jack Jennings & the Insider's View of School Reform

One reason why I loved Jack Jennings's Presidents, Congress, and the Public Schools is that it helped me grasp something that always perplexed me. NCLB, unlike Arne Duncan's test and punish agenda, had very little in terms of real sanctions for individuals.  Why didn't the normative education culture of compliance respond in the obvious manner - pocket the extra money and pretend to comply with the law? Why did systems actually impose test-driven accountability and juke the stats, rather than just play the numbers games and claim that they had really taken a pound of flesh out of educators?
Similarly, Jennings helps explain a phrase that became ubiquitous in my world. Our poor district desperately needed federal money, but it didn't dare spend it in the ways that would most benefit poor students. During years before and shortly after NCLB, I'd often hear the statement about Title I money: "Oh, that's just federal money." In other words, individual administrators wouldn't take risks in order to spend those modest funds more effectively; they’d stick with programs that were completely safe.
To his credit, Duncan subsequently spoke about flexibility in spending Title I. I'd cite his promises and suggest approaches focusing on the socio-emotional aspect of learning and invariably hear words of agreement from administrators. After all, our district was 90% low-income, so there was little chance that those researched-based approaches would unfairly benefit affluent kids. Then would come a statement like this: "But, what if some 25-year-old accountant disallowed it?" Often, the other administrators would offer the same few anecdotes about other districts that were burned by federal bureaucrats.
Jennings account of Title I is especially incisive. The ultimate insider with a half century of experience in edu-politics explains how Congress thought it was passing a general aid program with few strings attached. Reports of abuses prompted federal administrators in the 1970s to turn it into a categorical aid program, which led to regulations that could be burdensome. State and local administrators pushed back and gained some relief from the micromanaging. In return, the program became more focused on student achievement, as opposed to investing in the broader welfare of poor children.  
As Presidents, Congress, and the Public Schools unfolded, my big question was addressed. I had been unaware of the long complicated story of how Title I had become more focused on academic accountability.  On the ground in inner city schools, we would have had to have our heads firmly in the sand to miss the justified pressure from the civil rights community to produce concrete metrics of academic growth for poor children of color but I, at least, had missed the parts of the story that Jennings recounts. Systems had been fighting multi-faceted battles over accountability and I’d just been aware of the disputes over test scores. So, even though NCLB’s test score targets seemed so utopian that it appeared unlikely that systems would go to illogical extremes to meet them, an overall foundation had been laid for a serious commitment to test-driven accountability.

Continue reading "Thompson: Jack Jennings & the Insider's View of School Reform" »

Parents: Didn't Take Long For Common Core Homework Debate To Flare Up Again

This Dad Wrote A Check To His Kid's School Using Common Core Math
, says BuzzFeed about an image going around social media this week. But The Dad Who Wrote a Check Using “Common Core” Math Doesn’t Know What He’s Talking About, says blogger Hemant Mehta at Patheos. The parent has since recanted - sort of. 

Charts: Should Education Advocates Work On Voting Issues? (Yes.)

The notion that people interested in making schools work better for kids should get involved in voter registration/equity issues will probably make some (on the reform side, mostly) howl and tear their hair out of their heads (except perhaps those Democracy Prep folks).

But social justice activists and organized labor have long been involved in these kinds of things (most notably in Chicago, where the CTU registered voters along with running candidates against City Hall).

There's a sliver of reform-side history on voter registration in the form of Steve Barr (and others?) being involved with Rock The Vote, which was a musician-focused effort to encourage people to register whose heyday was in the 1990's on MTV.

This forthcoming study on responses to poor AYP ratings suggests increases in voter turnout 5-8 percent (varying by income) -- almost as much effect as door knocking.

Plus which: schools are often used as polling places, so it's right there in front of your faces.

Parent engagement & mobilization is now recognized as a key aspect of efforts to make schools work better. Why not throw some voter registration/advocacy in the mix while you're at it?

Related posts: Harvard Students Fail 1964 Louisiana Voting Literacy Test Children's Academic Success Vs. Minority Voting RightsComputerized Voting To Change A ContractTurning Students Into Voters.

Morning Video: Can Catholic Schools Bounce Back?

"Since the 1960s, enrollment at Catholic schools in the United States has fallen by more than 50 percent. Today, only about two million students attend Catholic school, and that’s due to a variety of reasons, including falling birth rates among Catholics, the rise of charter schools in urban areas, and more Catholics moving to the suburbs. But the one Pope Francis will visit and some others like it have found ways to keep their doors open." 

From the PBS NewsHour: Struggling Catholic schools seek ways to set themselves apart.

AM News: Seattle Tragedy, NYC's Muslim Holiday, & Chicago Next Steps

Sadness in international-student community after tour-bus tragedy Seattle Times: North Seattle enrolls about 900 international students each year, and the students on the bus, including the four who died, were among this year’s group.

For 1st time, New York City schools close for Muslim holiday AP: Thursday was the first time the schools serving 1.1 million pupils closed for a Muslim holiday. Eid al-Adha is known as the Feast of the Sacrifice. It commemorates the willingness of Ibrahim - Abraham to Christians and Jews - to sacrifice his son.

With Hunger Strike Over, Chicago Activists to Focus on Elected School Board District Dossier: Activists ended a 34-day hunger strike to reopen Dyett High School. They will channel their energy into advocating for an elected Chicago school board.

Black males struggle in segregated schools Washington Post: A new nces/AIR study using federal data finds that black students who attend schools that have a majority of black students score lower on achievement tests than black students who go to school with fewer other black students.

More than 1 in 5 U.S. children are (still) living in poverty Washington Post: The proportion of American children who live in poverty began rising during the recession, and it continued rising after the recession officially ended. In 2013, the child poverty rate finally fell for the first time since 2006 — a dip that advocates hoped was the beginning of an enduring trend.

D.C. School Takes New Approach To Fighting Poverty: Teaching Parents & Kids WAMU: We go inside an innovative partnership between a health clinic and a school, that aims to create healthier, more resilient communities in the nation's capital.

Some Concerned Union Too Involved In Pittsburgh Public Schools As Crucial ... CBS Local: But Randi Weingarten has shown a particular interest in Pittsburgh. Not only its teachers, but in who sits on the Pittsburgh Public School Board. “Why would the AFT be contributing to local neighborhood school board elections?” asked KDKA's Andy Sheehan.

Kids Who Are Time-Crunched At School Lunch Toss More And Eat Less NPR: Many public school students get 15 minutes or less to eat. A study finds that kids who get less than 20 minutes for lunch end up eating less of everything on their tray.

As city acts on their cause, community school advocates carve out a new role ChalkbeatNY: For the advocates, the challenge is to back Mayor Bill de Blasio’s ambitious plan to transform nearly 130 schools into community schools, while also ensuring that those changes are made with public input and result in service-filled schools that outlive this mayoral administration. For de Blasio’s side, the trick is to move quickly enough that the public sees an immediate return on its expensive investment while ensuring the continued support of advocates.

Viral: Fall Is the Worst Season (Not Just Because Of Decorative Gourds)

Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 3.49.32 PM"It all starts with the back-to-school feeling, a sensation beloved by freaks...."

via Jezebel (Fall Is the Worst Season)

Charts: Quick Reminder Why Everyone's So Worried (About The Kids & Themselves)

This chart from the NYT last year (The American Middle Class Is No Longer the World’s Richest) notes that poor and middle-class Americans used to be relatively better-off than those in other countries, but since 2000 have fallen behind their counterparts in other countries.

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"After-tax middle-class incomes in Canada — substantially behind in 2000 — now appear to be higher than in the United States. The poor in much of Europe earn more than poor Americans."

No wonder everyone's so fearful and stressed-out, right?


Quotes: When You Leave, Those Who Remain Win

Quotes2Those who hold power in the lazy monopoly may actually have an interest in creating some limited opportunities for exit on the part of those whose voice might be uncomfortable.

-- Albert Hirschman (Exit, Voice, and Loyalty) via Malcolm Gladwell (The Power Of Failure)

#TBT: Remembering The Annenberg Challenge (aka "Bottom-Up" Reform)

There's lots of talk these days about "bottom-up" efforts to fix struggling schools and districts, largely tied to what happened in Newark over the past five years.

But as some longtimers may recall, bottom-up (locally-driven, community-led) school reform funded by nonprofit sources has been tried before, most notably in the form of Walter Annenberg's $500M Challenge.

Take a minute to check out the case studies of Chicago, Philadelphia, and New York City that were written and published way back in 2000. (The Chicago chapter is one that I wrote. Carol Innerst and Ray Domanico wrote the others.)

Some of the folks who are pushing for bottom-up reforms now were actually part of these efforts, and should know better (or at least know that it's no guarantee of success of any kind). 

While we're on the topic, the NYT's Kate Zernike is scheduled to interview Dale Russakoff about Newark tonight at 5.

Morning Video: Integration Lessons From SF For Chicago & Brooklyn Parents


This SF Chronicle video -- part of a larger package of stories Twitter buddy Tania de Sa Campos (@taniadsc) reminded me of last night -- is a great reminder of the hope and the many many challenges to mixing kids in schools in ways that their parents likely don't live or mix in real life.

There's also a helpful "Behind The Headlines" roundup from Education Next about school integration and diversification efforts (including diverse charter schools) you might want to check out. 

The contrasting narratives taking shape in Chicago and Brooklyn are fascinating to watch, and such a welcome relief from all the other education issues that tend to get talked about all the time. I'm really hoping that things work out reasonably well in both situations, and that the NYC and Chicago media do a steady, careful job sharing out the developments as they take place. Crossed fingers. 


AM News: None Of These Items Are About The Pope

High school students give Chinese president football AP: Chinese President Xi Jinping received a football, a personalized jersey and instruction on America's most popular sport during a tour of a Washington state high school....

Detailed MCAS Results: Mostly Up, But Some Concerns Boston Learning Lab: Mitchell Chester, Massachusetts commissioner of elementary and secondary education, is “very concerned” about this year’s MCAS reading scores in the early grades, he said in a telephone press conference Wednesday. But he said he is “very pleased” with overall results on the 2015 Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System tests. The state released district-by-district and individual school results Thursday.

Joe Biden inches past Bernie Sanders in new poll New York Post:  say those unions are waiting for Biden to make his decision, whereas the American Federation of Teachers — led by Clinton ally Randi Weingarten — made an early endorsement of Clinton. 

English-Learners New to the U.S. Are Focus of Education Department Initiative PK12: John King, a senior adviser to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, acknowledged that the recently completed English-learner tool kit is merely the department's "first installment" in support of ELLs.

Seattle School Board halts suspensions for elementary students Seattle Times: The Seattle School Board’s resolution calls for a one-year moratorium on some out-of-school suspensions for elementary students, and a plan to reduce such suspensions for all students.

Making College More Affordable, One Text At A Time NPR: The right text or email message can help students get enrolled, find the right payment plan and remind them to pay, White House research shows.

Test results expected for Common Core-aligned exams in Maryland Washington Post: Officials will release the first results in late October, with home reports expected at the end of the year.

High-flying flips is the trick to keeping away bad feelings PBS NewsHour: Tonight, we discover a young man who fights the demons in life through meditation and the kind of high-flying acrobatics seen in video games. It’s an art form known as tricking. The video was shot and edited by teachers from Miami, Detroit and Aurora, Colorado.

How Eva Moskowitz’s growing bureaucracy handled a school-supply fiasco Chalkbeat: A team of staffers from the network was dispatched to Long Island to sort the furniture and supplies into boxes destined for the right schools, staff members said, volunteering nights and weekend days to complete the work.

Politics: Arne Duncan, Master Manipulator? Give NEA Credit, Too.

One of the things that Michael Grunwald gives Team Duncan credit for in Politico's long feature about the not-yet-lameduck Education Secretary is seeing the anti-testing momentum building earlier than many (think 2011) and figuring out how to help his boss avoid unnecessary criticism: 


“The union needed a target for its anger, and he was happy to take a bullet for the president.” 

That's raised some eyebrows, including from EIA's Mike Antonucci.

Writes the observant union watchdog: "If true – and I would expect vigorous denials if anyone bothered to inquire – I might actually have to adjust my cynicism meter into the red zone. This is manipulation of the union’s most devoted activists on a grand scale."

Well, not so fast there.

What's not mentioned about the anecdote -- which I have not confirmed independently (Dorie? Justin? Massie? Daren?) is that the NEA isn't necessarily as dumb as it might look from this move. Its challenge was to express members' frustrations with the direction with the administration was taking without hurting the chances of the Democratic President they still wanted in the White House.

This strategy has been noted several times in the past -- Jonathan Chait from New York Magazine comes to mind. So however smart Duncan's staff was getting him involved in his own roasting, the union was arguably just as smart aiming its fire at Duncan not Obama.  

Still reading? Here's the 13 things.

Thompson: School Closings in Chicago, Newark & Oklahoma City

Like so many reformers in Newark and elsewhere, Cory Booker was a true believer in "disruptive innovation" to produce "transformative" change. Dale Russakoff, in The Prize, explains that Newark reformers, funded by Mark Zuckerberg's $100 million grant, were slow in developing a plan for creating a "hybrid" district through school closures and expanding the charter sector.  Booker had said that the biggest challenge would be "breaking this iceberg of immovable, decades-long failing schools." After this is done, "They'll melt into many different school models. They're going to flower, just like the cherry blossoms in Branch Park."

Booker didn't seem to have read about the [then] decade-long history of Chicago school closures started by Arne Duncan. And, he seemed to have forgotten about the murder of Derrion Albert as he walked home from his turnaround school, Fenger H.S. Or, perhaps he believed that Newark gang-bangers would be so inspired by One Newark that they would transform gang turf into cherry orchards for all. 

In 1998, when I had my first experience with a school closure and reopening, Oklahoma City had some schools as violent and low-performing as those of Newark and Chicago. My John Marshall wasn't one of them. It was somewhere between 2/3rds and 3/4ths low-income, very similar to the neighboring Northeast H.S., which was turned into a magnet school. Marshall had the best faculty that I had ever seen, and Northeast was known for producing state and local teachers of the year and teacher-leaders. After the crack and gang violence peaked in the early 1990s, and after the "jobless recovery" finally started to put some patrons back to work, both schools had been seeing incremental gains.

Then came the 1998-1999 "Year from Hell," as our long-suffering principal dubbed it. Combining students from the two neighborhoods who could not be admitted to selective schools was not the sole cause of our collapse. Neither am I aware of a connection between the change in school boundaries and the deaths that year of five Marshall students and recent alumni. But, the meltdown of our school showed the risks involved with tampering with the delicate ecosystems of schooling.  It was a major step in our blood-drenched path to becoming the lowest-performing secondary school in the state.

Even before our first funeral, during my daily, dazed walk to the gym for lunchtime basketball with the students, I kept asking if this was a nightmare, and whether what I was experiencing was real.

Continue reading "Thompson: School Closings in Chicago, Newark & Oklahoma City" »

Quotes: How Some Upper Middle-Class Parents Calculate School Choices

Quotes2I could move to Oak Park and pay $25,000. I don’t want to do that. We could also go to British school or Latin school and I’d have to pay another $25,000. I don’t want to do that.  So if you look at the numbers, it makes sense to make this work.

- Chicago parent on WBEZ Chicago (Possible merger of contrasting schools one step closer)

Morning Video: Tupac On School "Just To Keep You Busy"

"What they tend to is teach you reading, writing, and arithmetic, then teach you reading, writing, and arithmetic again, then again, then again, just make it harder and harder, just to keep you busy. And that’s where I think they messed up." (via Bellwether Education Partners)

Reform: Why Was Community Engagement In Newark *So* Bad?

In a recent interview in The Seventy Four, former mayoral candidate Shavar Jeffries described how woefully insufficient the communications and engagement effort was behind the Newark school reform effort: “There was absolutely not an infrastructure to communicate to parents... voters [and] the community.” 


Love or loathe the Newark reform effort, you have to admit that it's pretty notable that well-funded reformers who'd seen what happened to Michelle Rhee in DC and had to know the importance of informing and rallying community members to their cause didn't seem to do so (or did so ineffectively). Across the river, Families For Excellent Schools launched in 2011. There was nothing like that in Newark. 

In Dale Russakoff's book about Newark, the communications effort outsourced to consultant Bradley Tusk and others is described as a half-completed boondoggle:


Mysteriously Tusk's role in Newark -- and his effectiveness -- isn't mentioned in this recent Forbes profile (What Uber And Mike Bloomberg Have In Common).


I've invited Tusk and other consultants who worked on the Newark project to tell me more about their work, what if anything the Russakoff book gets wrong, and what readers need to know about the folks working on the opposite side of the issue (who don't get nearly as much attention as Tusk et al in the Russakoff book).

So far, few if any takers. But the lines are still open.  

Related posts: Meet Bradley Tusk, Reform StrategistWhy Organized Opposition Gets Less Attention.

AM News: LA Charter Expansion Plan Sets Off Deep Divisions

Group Led By Billionaire Proposes Overhaul Of LA Public Schools NPR: A memo obtained by the Los Angeles Times reveals a controversial plan to put half of the city's public school kids in charter schools. Renee Montagne talks with Times education reporter Howard Blume. See also LA TimesKPCC LA.

Rezoning Plan for Two Brooklyn Schools Riles Up Parents WSJ: Parents from both schools say the proposal was thrust on them suddenly this month without their input. Department officials say urgency mounted when 50 children expecting to attend P.S. 8’s kindergarten this fall had to be put on a waitlist. See also NYT: Race and Class Collide in a Plan for Two Brooklyn Schools.

Possible merger of contrasting schools one step closer WBEZ Chicago: Because the move would be considered a “school consolidation” under the law, CPS will have to make an official announcement by December 1 and hold three more public hearings before making a decision.  Gad said she thinks if the merger is approved, parents will leave Ogden.

Brown signs $500m teacher training bill SI&A Cabinet Reoprt: Brown signed legislation Tuesday authorizing the distribution of $490 million in teacher training money to school districts based on their number of full-time equivalent certificated staff.

Shavar Jeffries and the color of education 'reform' Washington Post: Shavar Jeffries is the new president of Democrats for Education Reform, making him a prominent African American leader in a movement that's been criticized for being too white and elitist.

Chicago’s brand of teacher organizing goes viral Catalyst Chicago: As in Chicago in 2012, the Seattle teachers union connected with community concerns about standardized testing to argue against attaching tests to teacher evaluations. The new contract takes student test scores out of teacher evaluation altogether. “There’s a mood shifting out there among teachers and parents about what’s going on in the schools, and who has a say over it,” said Knapp.

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

Continue reading "AM News: LA Charter Expansion Plan Sets Off Deep Divisions" »

Parents: Chicago & NYC Examples Highlight Promise & Challenges Of Integration

There are two contrasting stories going on around school integration right now -- one in Chicago where parents at an overcrowded high-achieving school are considering merging with a nearby low-achieving school and the other in Brooklyn's DUMBO neighborhood where parents are apparently expressing concerns about changes in the attendance zone that would bring in more low-income kids. 

Read about the Chicago story at WBEZ and DNA Chicago: "Jenner principal Croston told the crowd that Jenner teaches children to “be neighborly. It’s one of the golden rules of every single world religion,” he said. “I think we are not doing our children a service when we continue to perpetuate stereotypes; when we continue to perpetuate myths.”"

Read about the Brooklyn situation at Gothamist (among other places):"At last night's meeting, most of the parental indignation was directed at the DOE, which proposed the rezoning plan on September 2nd, and planned only two town-hall meetings—one at each school—before a revised plan is expected to be presented on September 30th. The rezoning could be finalized before the end of the year."

The dynamics are a good reminder of what David Simon said recently: "White people, by and large, are not very good at sharing physical space or power or many other kinds of social dynamics with significant numbers of people of color."

Or Ravi Gupta in a recent Conor Williams commentary: "‘Neighborhood school’ is almost an Orwellian term. It sounds great—and can be great in a perfect world. But its history is a history of using neighborhood boundaries to segregate."

But it can and does happen -- in unlikely places including Greenwich, Connecticut (Who Knew That Greenwich, Conn., Was a Model of Equality?)

Related posts: School Integration's Nagging NIMBY ProblemNew Report Calls For Renewed Integration Effort (Can It Happen?)

Update: Whatever Happened To Roland Fryer (& Cash Incentives For School)?

News that Harvard economist Roland Fryer has been named to MA State Board of Ed (h/t Rotherham) is a great opportunity to play this memorable interview he did with Stephen Colbert, talking about the achievement gap and kids and parents' responses to financial incentives. 

In the interview, Fryer puts a bill on the table as an incentive for Colbert to ask good questions.

Of course, the idea of financial incentives has lost much of whatever luster it held, based on both squeamishness about the idea and disappointing results.


More interest and attention these days seems to be going towards low-tech reminder and engagement efforts using cell phones to communicate with parents. See examples here, here, and here.

But the cash payment idea hasn't gone away, domestically and elsewhere. The PBS NewsHour recently ran a segment about a cash payment program operating in Brazil. Other less direct ways of helping low-income parents help improve their kids' education chances include raising the minimum wage and expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit. 

Related posts: Roland Fryer Wins MacArthur "Genius" AwardFryer To Colbert: "You're Black Now, Aren't You?"The Rise And Fall Of Cash For Grades How Parental Fears Might Shade Views Of Roland Fryer

Quotes: Obstacles To Instructional Coaching In Schools

Quotes2Unfortunately, there are schools that enter into coaching, but they put coaches in situations that will only foster resentment and not growth among teachers. Perhaps it's these days of accountability and point scales on teacher evaluations, but there is a lack of trust between many teachers and leaders. 

-- Peter DeWitt in EdWeek (4 Reasons Instructional Coaching Won't Work)

Morning Listen: Contrasting Chicago Schools Might Attempt Merger

As Chicago's public housing has been dismantled and gentrification has taken hold, white and college-educated parents have moved into neighborhoods with legacy neighborhood schools that are all-black and nearly all poor students. A proposal to merge one of these schools (200-student Jenner) with a nearby high-performing (and overcroweded) school (Ogden) with just 20 percent poor students raised some parental concerns. 

WBEZ's Linda Lutton attended a meeting to air parents' concerns -- and optimism -- about a possible attendance zone change that would merge the schools into a racially and economically school.  Both schools' principals are in favor. The proposal isn't endorsed by the central office, and hasn't yet been voted on by the Local School Councils that oversee the principals and budgets at each school. 

Above, listen to Lutton talk about the possibility, which she calls precedent-setting, and click the link below to read and listen to more of the parent meeting

You can also listen to the recent episode of This American Life in which school integration was proposed -- and opposed -- in Missouri last year.

AM News: Walker's Out, LA Charter Plan Revealed

Scott Walker Suspends Presidential Campaign After Late Anti-Union Push PK12: In what turned out to be his last major campaign push, Walker this month had once again played up his opposition to unions. See also State EdWatch.

$490-million plan would put half of LAUSD students in charter schools LA Times: The timing of the charter plan is troubling, said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. She said the district has made recent strides, "but instead of building on this success ... Mr. Broad and his allies are trying to ...

Boy withdraws from school that suspended him over clock AP: The family of a 14-year-old Muslim student who got in trouble over a homemade clock mistaken for a possible bomb withdrew the boy Monday from his suburban Dallas high school. Ahmed Mohamed’s father, Mohamed El-Hassan Mohamed, said he has pulled all of his children from their Irving Independent School District schools. 

Dispute Over Validity of Common-Core Exam Ignites New Florida Testing Fight State EdWatch: There's a new political dispute over assessments in Florida. This one involves a study about the common-core test given to students earlier this year.

Merger would mean first integrated neighborhood school in a former public housing area WBEZ:  Beyer says a committee of Ogden parents researched multiple options to relieve overcrowding and felt this was the best approach. But he says Ogden won’t pursue the option unless the local school council supports it; a vote is scheduled for tonight. “Nothing is a done deal,” Beyer says.

Chicago Mayor Prepares Large Property Tax Hike AP: It's unclear how residents and businesses will respond. Emanuel has faced raucous crowds at public budget hearings, but the political fallout for the former chief of staff to President Barack Obama could be delayed because he doesn't face re-election until 2019.

Charter leaders continue to battle de Blasio over space in public school buildings ChalkbeatNY: In an open letter to de Blasio, the leaders accuse the de Blasio administration of “hurting some of the city’s most vulnerable students” by denying their requests for space in public-school buildings.

State’s first charter school was overpaid $200,000 Seattle Times: First Place Scholars, the state’s first charter school, got more state money than it should have after providing inaccurate information, says the audit, part of an investigation that began last year when the school was put on probation. See also AP, Seattle Public Radio.

Six D.C. schools had ‘critical’ testing violations, 11 others had irregularities Washington Post: One test administrator coached students to change answers, others erased stray answer sheet markings.

How TV Can Make Kids Better Readers NPR: In their new book, two education scholars argue new media can be a key part of building literacy.

5 years after Facebook pledge, Newark schools struggle AP: So has Zuckerberg's donation, which was matched with another $100 million from other donors, shown that big-scale philanthropy guarantees quick change? "We've proven at this point that answer is no," said Derrell Bradford, a supporter of Zuckerberg's effort and leader of the New York school reform group NYCAN, who previously worked for similar groups in New Jersey. 

Roundup: Education Audio Is Everywhere

image from wdet.org
Christine Schneider from Education Cities notes that there are a lot of mainstream education-related audio segments and podcasts that have come out recently:

Note To Self (WNYC) Half the teachers in America use one app (Class Dojo) to track kids

The Beginning Of The End - the end of self doubt - about one amazing Detroit high school teacher (pictured above).
Also from TBOTE - the end of high school (also from WDET).
Freakonomics - preventing crime for pennies on the dollar. Follows the Becoming a Man (BAM) program.
WBEZ also did one on truancy that was super interesting.
Education Cities is a nonprofit network of 32 city-based organizations in 25 cities working to dramatically increase the number of great public schools. Find them at @edcities

Quotes: Restaffing Struggling Schools Won't Necessarily Fix Them

Quotes2The problems of the city’s struggling schools can be solved by real strategies, but not by political sloganeering. “Get tough on teachers” may warm the hearts of “reformers,” but it is a distraction from the real work that needs to be done.

-- UFT head Michael Mulgrew in the NY Daily News (Firing teachers vs. fixing schools)

Morning Video: Time For School


"Hear the story of Jefferson Narciso from Rocinha, one of Rio de Janeiro's poorest and violent neighborhoods. Shy and smart, Narciso embarks on a journey to a better life through education that is plagued by the fears of others." (PBS NewsHour) Featuring a small cash transfer/school attendance program. Or, watch Chelsea Clinton speaking at her old Arkansas middle school on Friday.

AM News: Democratic Candidates' Education Silence, Seattle Teachers Ratify

Why Aren't Democratic Presidential Contenders Talking About K-12 Policy? PK12: Democratic contenders for the White House have focused on early-childhood education and college access, but not said much about K-12 policy.

Seattle teachers ratify contract Seattle Times: With approval of the contract with Seattle Public Schools, the strike, which was suspended, now officially ends.

Homework: A New User's Guide NPR: School's back in session, and that means the homework's back, too. Here's what you need to know about how much work U.S. students have to do and how to tell the difference between good work and bad.

De Blasio Says NYC Policies Support More Diverse Schools WNYC: Appearing on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show, he said his goal was to increase equity and opportunities for all children through his affordable housing plans, pre-k expansion and after-school programs. 

Unions push to cancel classes for pope’s visit Washington Post: Aona Jefferson, president of the Council of School Officers, said that the parade, street closings, Metro disruptions, bus route changes and huge crowds will lead to “commuting nightmares.”

Clever, a Software Service, Gives Schools a Way to Manage Data Flow to Apps NYT: A new company, Clever, is addressing questions raised by politicians and parents about the data on students, and how it is secured and used.

Illinois test results plummet under new Common Core exams WBEZ Chicago:  This first look at the controversial PARCC test may not be representative—the results, which Smith called a “super draft,” leave out between 25 and 30 percent of the nearly 1.1 million tests taken, according to the Illinois State Board of Education. 

Dyett high school hunger strike ends after 34 days WBEZ Chicago: Protesters demanding Dyett High School reopen as a neighborhood school with a green technology curriculum have ended their hunger strike after 34 days. The end of the strike comes after protesters won a number of key demands but never declared victory. See also AP.

Safety experts question classroom barricade devices AP: A nationwide push allowing schools to buy portable barricade devices they can set up if an active shooter enters their building has school security and fire experts questioning whether they're really safe....

New Mexico Gives Every Teacher $100 for School Supplies TeacherBeat: The state's plan has been unenthusiastically greeted by one local union, though, that says it's a distraction from larger issues of education funding.

Teachers union plans protest outside new Broad museum in downtown LA LA Daily News: Protesters are expected to gather outside Eli Broad's new $140 million museum that houses his 2,000-piece contemporary art collection Sunday, to call on the billionaire to halt plans to back a charter school plan that could enroll half of the students in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Charts: Pinellas County Tops This 2014 District Education Foundations List

32544rrAfter Pinellas comes Clark County (Las Vegas), Omaha, Denver, Philadelphia, Hillborough, and NYC. Local (district) education foundations are either the best or worst thing ever, depending on whether you like what the fund is doing or not (and how you feel about equity). Here's a 2014 ranking by dewey & associates called "Stepping Up" which is billed as "the nation's only study and ranking of K-12 education foundations." h/t ED.

Thompson's Throwback Friday: Russakoff's Schooled & The Prize

Dale Russakoff's New Yorker article, Schooled, foreshadowed the powerful narrative of The Prize

Before we can inquire more deeply into the nuance of Russakoff's full revelations, the essence of her discoveries must be contemplated. So, Why Cory Booker Should Have Respected Newark's Families and Teachers, This Week in Education, May 20, 2014, is worth a reread:

Dale Russakoff’s New Yorker article, Schooled, recounts the failure of the “One Newark” plan to transform Newark schools. One of the key contributions of Russakoff’s excellent narrative is her portrait of the personalized nature of the edu-philanthropy process. As one wealthy donor said, “Investors bet on people, not on business plans, because they know successful people will find a way to be successful.”

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg donated $100 million in seed money after being blown away by then-mayor Cory Booker. Zuckerberg explained, “This is the guy I want to invest in. This is a person who can create change.”

Booker created a confidential draft plan to “make Newark the charter school capital of the nation.” Because it would be driven by philanthropic donors, no openness would be required.  “Real change requires casualties,” Booker argued, and stealth was required to defeat “the pre-existing order,” which will “fight loudly and viciously.”

Had they bothered to study social science research, cognitive science, and education history, hopefully the edu-philanthropists would have realized that Booker’s approach to “One Newark” could be great for his political ambitions but it was doomed as method of improving schools.

Continue reading "Thompson's Throwback Friday: Russakoff's Schooled & The Prize" »

AM News: School Starts In Seattle, Illinois Gets Tough Results

School Begins in Seattle NYT: Thousands of Seattle students started the school year Thursday after it was delayed by a weeklong teachers strike. See also Seattle Times, Seattle Public Radio.

Illinois test results plummet under new Common Core exams WBEZ Chicago: In elementary school, where students are tested in grades 3 through 8, between 33 percent and 38 percent of students met or exceeded standards in English. The percentage meeting standards in math was generally lower—between 26 percent and 36 percent.

KIPP DC schools, other charters, to close during parts of papal visit Washington Post: All 16 KIPP charter schools in the District will be closed on Sept. 23 for the second day of the Pope's visit to Washington, and other charter schools also plan to close due to expected traffic congestion.

Boston Proposes Combining Charter, District Enrollment Applications Boston Learning Lab: The proposed plan could also effectively change charter schools that opt into the enrollment process from citywide schools to neighborhood schools. Currently charter schools may accept students from throughout the city. Under the proposed process, Weinstein said, students would be given a choice of charter schools based on where they live, just as they are for district schools.

Yeshivas Probe Faces Political Heft of Hasidic Community WNYC: The ultra-orthodox communities in the city and state are powerful political entities, and elected officials seek favor with them to secure their votes at election time.

Expert panels weighs in on reversing school segregation in New York City WNYC: The panel comes at a time when school segregation has garnered attention in New York, following a UCLA study that detailed how the the state’s schools are deeply divided along racial lines. Panelists disagreed about whether the issue is best understood as divisions along socioeconomic or racial lines. 

Learning To Code In Preschool NPR: A group of educators, researchers and entrepreneurs like Hosford is taking that analogy very seriously. They're arguing that the basic skills of coding, such as sequencing, pattern recognition and if/then conditional logic, should be introduced alongside or even before traditional reading, writing, and math.

Florida Girl Arrested Under Similar Circumstances as Ahmed Mohamed Has Advice for Teen AP: Wilmot said she activated the volcano outside the cafeteria of Bartow High School that morning, when the lid popped off and the bottom of the device began to smoke. No students were hurt and no school property was damaged. Wilmot was then brought to the juvenile detention center where she was arrested on bomb charges.

On the Bus With Arne Duncan: Wheelchair Basketball and Tough Questions PK12: Duncan's been dogged by questions about his controversial moves on K-12, including championing new Common Core State Standards tests, expanding charter schools, and evaluations.

High School Football Inc. NYT: The latest experiment in prep football is taking root, and coaches and officials around the country are watching with curiosity and wariness.

House Republicans want to give teachers a break Washington Post: Teachers who spend their own money on classroom supplies — most of the nation's nearly 4 million K-12 teachers — would be eligible for a permanent tax credit of up to $250 annually for unreimbursed expenses, under a bill 

Quotes: Duncan Laments Belated NCLB Waiver Decision

Quotes2We spent a year and a half two years trying to finish No Child Left Behind in 2009 and '10 and '11... We let schools, we let kids suffer for another year. So, in hindsight, we should have done waivers earlier... I think [overall] waivers have gone pretty darn well. You guys don't cover it much. But we have 44 pretty happy customers across the political spectrum.

-- EdSec Arne Duncan in EdWeek (Duncan's Big Mistake?)

Thompson: Hess & Jennings Cast Doubt on NCLB

The conservative spawn of the devil, Rick Hess, writes: "The acid test, I'd think, is whether they [test score increases] carry over to what matters: success in high school, college, and beyond. A decade of stagnant high school metrics is not reassuring, and it's possible that NCLB's command-and-control effort to improve schooling could be delivering up a false sense of progress."
Our liberal pragmatist hero, Jack Jennings, writes that "the lack of congruence between state test and NAEP results throws into doubt the ability of NCLB's accountability provisions to raise general students achievement." Jennings concludes, "The recent stalling of progress on NAEP since 2008 ... suggests  problems with the NCLB accountability approach." 
Is there a dimes worth of difference between the American Enterprise Institute scholar's and the consummate insider/scholar's conclusion?
Seriously, there is a difference between Hess's "musing" in Of Head Start and SAT and Jennings's thorough analysis of what worked and didn't work in accountability-driven reform. Hess starts with an old-fashioned conservative argument, raising the question of whether Head Start's gains are lasting. He then offers a specific critique of conservatives who keep whistling in the dark when bad news is announced. In this case, it is the decade-long decline of average SAT scores from 1514 for the class of 2006 to 1490 for the class of 2015 that reformers (who are now the new status quo) are scrambling to explain away.
Jennings, in Presidents, Congress, and the Public Schools, documents the long-term increase in student performance since 1970s, explaining why pre-NCLB improvement efforts were more successful than commonly assumed, and documenting the negative, unintended effects of NCLB's test-driven accountability system. 
Both the conservative and the liberal are refreshingly grounded in reality. Hess gets to the heart of the matter, writing about test score gains, "What's been less clear to me is whether those results necessarily reflect meaningful learning."

Continue reading "Thompson: Hess & Jennings Cast Doubt on NCLB" »

Charts: Pay Teacher More, But Don't Give Them Tenure, Says New PDK Poll

image from pdkpoll2015.pdkintl.org

Pretty much everyone thinks teachers aren't paid enough. Well, except Republicans. But not everybody thinks that teachers should get tenure, either according to the latest PDK/Gallup results: "59% of all Americans and 54% of public school parents oppose tenure. However, responses from black Americans differ: More blacks (47%) support rather than oppose tenure (32%)." (PDK/Gallup Poll - October highlights). How do these results compare to those found in other polls?

AM News: GOP Debates Education, De Blasio Unveils New Initiatives

Common Core, Choice, and a Teenage Clockmaker Highlight Ed. in GOP Debates PK12: Fans of discussions about K-12 policy had little to cheer about Wednesday, but education did get occasional mentions from some of the GOP candidates. See also Washington Post, LA Times.

Obama Invites Ahmed Mohamed And His 'Cool Clock' To The White House For Astronomy Night HuffPost: President Barack Obama on Wednesday invited 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed to the White House for some stargazing next month. See also NBC NewsSlateNYT.

De Blasio’s Plan to Lift Poor Schools Comes With High Costs and Big Political Risks NYT: Mayor Bill de Blasio framed his $186 million commitment to help struggling schools as a way to address income inequality, but questions remain about how these programs will work. See also WNYCChalkbeatNYChalkbeatNY.

Teachers' union head spars with education reformer over New Orleans Washington Examiner: During the event's final panel, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, and Paul Pastorek, former Superintendent of Education in Louisiana, exchanged words.

Head of firm chosen for new Wisconsin test gave Scott Walker $10,000 Journal-Sentinel: The president and CEO of the Minnesota firm chosen to produce the new Wisconsin Forward Exam is a former Wisconsin Republican lawmaker who last year donated $10,000 to Gov. Scott Walker’s re-election campaign.

Spurred by strike support, groups continue education fight Seattle Times: With the Seattle teachers strike suspended, public-education advocates are hoping to harness the outpouring of support for the city’s teachers toward the ongoing effort to boost state spending for public education.

KIPP’s explosive growth came with slight dip in performance, study says Washington Post: For the analysis, researchers looked at eight elementary, 43 middle and 18 high schools in 20 cities, including Washington. They compared test scores of KIPP students with those of students who had applied to a KIPP school but failed to win a seat through a lottery and enrolled elsewhere. They also conducted student and parent surveys. See also Houston Chronicle.

New Type of Public School Becomes Reality in Camden AP: Renaissance Schools, which started last year, are run by large, nonprofit charter school organizations. But unlike charters, they fall under control of the local school board and are responsible for educating all children who live in their areas. They also receive more taxpayer money per student than charters do.

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

Continue reading "AM News: GOP Debates Education, De Blasio Unveils New Initiatives" »

POTUS: "Cool Clock, Ahmed."

So a school suspended a kid for bringing a homemade clock to school, and got this comment from President Obama: "Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It's what makes America great."



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.