About this blog Subscribe to this blog

Quotes: Show Taxpayers [Test] Results If You Want More Of Their Money

Quotes2Taxpayers provide about $600 billion each year to fund public education in America. They have a right to know if the system is working. And if we want the public to spend more money on education, we need to show them [test] results.

-- Ed Post's Peter Cunningham (Fewer, Better, Fairer Tests)

Journalism: Ten Large (& A Bowler Hat!) For High-Quality Reporting

image from www.edwingouldfoundation.org

The Edwin Gould Foundation has announced a new (to me) journalism prize to "the authors / producers / originators of works of journalism that help to further the national conversation about low-income college completion."

First prize: $10,000 and a bowler hat Two Honorable Mention Awards: $2,500 and a bowler hat.

Sounds pretty good to me, though I rarely write about what happens to kids after high school.

Read all about it here: The Eddie. Then send them your stuff and cross your fingers.  Image used courtesy EGF.

 

Morning Video: Let's Talk About Why Schools Are So Segregated (Again)

 

Here's an April 2014 C-SPAN interview with ProPublica's Nikole Hannah-Jones about how schools in Tuscaloosa Alabama and many other places have resegregated since coming out from under court supervision. (Washington Journal School Desegregation)

AM News: After Obama Push, Google Relents On Student Data Privacy Pledge

After Initially Holding Out, Google Signs Student-Data-Privacy Pledge EdWeek: Any possibility that the pledge might have slipped from the public's attention vanished last week, when President Barack Obama publicly lauded the effort and urged more companies to get on board.

State Of The Union Doesn't Mention No Child Left Behind Rewrite Efforts HuffPost: Obama mentioned few specifics about K-12 education, one of his administration's top priorities during his first term. Notably, the president mentioned not one word directly about one of his education secretary's priorities for 2015: rewriting the much-maligned No Child Left Behind Act, the Bush-era school accountability law. Obama also failed to mention the words teacher and testing. See also PK12, Washington PostPBS NewsHour.

Who sat in the First Lady's State of the Union box? Vox: Malik Bryant (Chicago, IL) Thirteen-year-old Malik Bryant sent a letter to Santa over the holidays, but rather than request the usual gifts, Malik wrote: "All I ask for is for safety I just wanna be safe." The President wrote back to Malik, encouraging him and underscoring that Malik's "security is a priority for me in everything I do as president." Malik lives with his mother Keturah and his two sisters in a neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. He is in seventh grade, and his favorite subject is math.

Cuomo’s Education Agenda Sets Battle Lines With Teachers’ Unions NYT: Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is expected to seek changes to teacher evaluations and charter school limits, reforms that, uncharacteristically for a Democrat, will put him in conflict with the unions. See also ChalkbeatNY, WNYC.

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

Continue reading "AM News: After Obama Push, Google Relents On Student Data Privacy Pledge" »

Quotes: Don't Hate The [School Board] Players, Hate The Game

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comWe propose that state laws be amended so that local boards have only two powers: to approve an annual slate of schools to operate in their locality, and to employ a CEO... Individual schools, not the local board, would employ teachers, rent or buy facilities and technology, and decide how to deliver instruction.  - Paul Hill in Crosscut (Want to fix the school board? Change the job, not the people)

Related posts:  "First, Kill All The School Boards"First, Kill All The [Elected] School BoardsFirst, Kill All The Policy WonksPointy Headed Pundits Can't Make Local Control Go Away$100 Billion (A Year) To Get Rid Of School Boards.

Thompson: Misgivings About NYC's New Cell Phone Policy

Like most teachers who I know, I have strong opinions about cell phones in school – I’m agin em.

But, I support Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellor Carmen Farina, so why should I intrude into New York City’s cell phone debate? Edu-politics is the art of the possible and cell phones aren’t going away. At some point we will have to find a way to incorporate those hand-held computers into the learning process. So, I had decided to bite my tongue and hope for the best.

Then, I stumbled across TechCrunch and Joe Mathewson’s prediction for 2015, “Teachers will embrace student’s Smartphone addiction.” Such candor cannot be allowed to go to waste. Regardless of where we come down on cell phones in school, we should face the fact that we are welcoming a dominating compulsion into our classrooms.

NY Chalkbeat’s Brian Charles, in Educators Remain Cautious as City Prepares to Lift Cell Phone Ban, quotes a principal who asks, “How do we enforce the use of cell phones in class, if we have 500-plus kids with cell phones who are taking calls or text during class time?” The principal then makes the point that too few non-educators fully understand, “We have laid a whole new burden on teachers who have to make sure children get the instruction they need.”

I must emphasize that NYC is not only opening the door to an incredibly disruptive device. It is inviting teenagers to bring patterns of behavior, that often could be described as addictions, into classrooms. When teachers, alone, cannot manage the cell phone challenge, they are likely to be scapegoated.

I would never bet against technology. The reason why digital technologies have failed to improve teaching and learning, I believe, is that we have not laid the foundation for the new types of learning. We must all take responsibility for helping students develop a learning culture and the self-control necessary to successfully engage in blended learning. New York City is dumping a massive and complex challenge on teachers and principals, while it is not likely to accept any responsibility for the epidemic of distraction and disorder that probably will result.

On the other hand, school improvement is a team effort. I'm not going to second guess teammates like de Blasio and Farina and I will hope for the best.  -JT (@drjohnthompson)    

 

 

 

Morning Video: Student Poverty Deepening & Spreading Nationally

 

Here's a PBS NewsHour segment on student poverty from Friday that you might not yet have seen. A majority of students in 21 states are now poor or near-poor, according to data passed on by Washington Post reporter Lyndsey Layton (whose paper's initial coverage of the numbers was critiqued somewhat predictably by Fordham's Mike Petrilli and somewhat unexpectedly by Mother Jones' Kevin Drum).

AM News: Obama Speech To Include Student Privacy, Safety, & Free College Tonight

Obama to propose new student privacy legislation Washington Post: President Obama is planning to propose new federal legislation to safeguard student privacy, a move that comes as new classroom technologies gather sensitive personal information about children in order to deliver personalized lessons,

Englewood boy who asked Santa for safety invited to attend State of the Union address WLS-TV: The seventh grader was one of about 8,500 Chicago Public Schools students who wrote letters to Santa. 

How Will Education Play in the State of the Union Address? PK12:Proposals on both ends of the education spectrum—early and higher—were part of a big tax package unveiled by the White House this weekend, from which K-12 policy was (almost) absent. This seems to be a trend for the president, who has focused the education remarks in his last three addresses to college on either higher education (popular with young voters and their middle-aged parents) and early ed. (popular with just about everybody), while steering clear of K-12 (a politically stickier issue these days). 

Do students take too many tests? Congress to weigh question PBS NewsHour/AP: Preliminary research by the Council of the Great City Schools, which represents large urban districts, found that students take an average of 113 standardized tests between pre-K and 12th grade. It said testing time for 11th graders was as high as 27 days, or 15 percent of the school year, in one district and that didn’t count Advanced Placement, career and technical education course and college entrance exams.

Arizona civics group targets California after winning test for high school graduation KPCC LA: “We hope to get out to California maybe in the next year or two and start working with citizens, legislators, teachers there, and see if we can’t make this happen in California as well,” said Sam Stone, Civics Education Initiative executive director, on Friday.

 

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

Continue reading "AM News: Obama Speech To Include Student Privacy, Safety, & Free College Tonight" »

How Stevie Wonder Helped Create Martin Luther King Day

 

How Stevie Wonder Helped Create Martin Luther King Day (Medium)

Quotes: "Free-Range" Parents Object When Kids Stopped Walking Home

Quotes2The world is actually even safer than when I was a child, and I just want to give them the same freedom and independence that I had — basically an old-fashioned childhood. I think it’s absolutely critical for their development — to learn responsibility, to experience the world, to gain confidence and competency.

-- Parent Danielle Meitiv in Slate (Maryland parents investigated by the police for letting their kids walk home alone)

#EdGif Of The Day: How To Explain A Book To Your Students

"It's like an iPad, only thicker.  It entertains yo for hours.  It's like individual screens with words on it. It's like a movie you get to direct in your own head."  via
 
We may all have an exaggerated sense of kids' use and affection for e-reading (a new Scholastic survey shows that most kids read real books and like them better) but still this is pretty funny and brilliant (though not at all new). 
 
 

Journalism: Atlantic Story Highlighting "Racial Gerrymandering" Named Magazine Award Finalist

One of the handful of articles nominated for a national magazine award yesterday includes Nikole-Hannah-Jones' school resegregation story, which ran in The Atlantic and is a finalist in the Public Interest category. 

Longtime readers may recall Hannah-Jones from her appearance at an EWA panel on covering communities of color and inclusion on a list of diverse education tweeters I attempted to compile earlier this year. 

While both reformers and reform critics might want to claim her as one of their own, her reporting on racial gerrymandering of school attendance zones calls into question neighborhood- and school district-based policies that few professional education advocates are willing to challenge.

The National Magazine Award is a big deal and it's not often that an education-related publication or article gets nominated. In 2011, an Atlantic Magazine story about the discovery of autism was nominated. In 2013, Peg Tyre's story about teaching writing in Staten Island got the nod. Further in the past, a TIME story on ADD was also nominated.

You can read the May 2014 segregation story here, or watch her on C-SPAN here. Check out how your district may be resegregating over the past 60 years. 

Related posts: Atlantic Magazine Nominated For Autism StoryTeaching WritingThis More Diverse List Of Top Education Tweeters Needs More Names*

Morning Video: Watch Reading Rainbow's Martin Luther King Video

 

Here's a LeVar Burton / Reading Rainbow video about MLK via Huffington Post. Or, watch this Today Show segment about some Florida parents & schools blaming Common Core for cancelled recess time.

AM News: Pushing Lunch Until After Recess (& Offering School Dinner, Too)

With lunch after recess, fruits and veggies consumption increases by 54 percent PBS NewsHour: The study sampled seven schools containing grades 1 to 6 in a Utah school district. Three of the schools switched to putting recess before lunch, while the remaining four schools kept their original schedule of lunch before recess. In the schools that switch, the researchers observed — in addition to the 54 percent increase of fruit and vegetable consumption — a 45 percent increase in children eating at least one serving of the two. In the schools that didn’t switch, however, consumption of fruits and vegetables were observed to have decreased.

 More schools serve students dinner as demand expands AP: Thirteen states and the District of Columbia began offering students dinner as part of a pilot program expanded to all states after the 2010 passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. Schools where at least half the students are low-income and qualify for free or reduced-price lunch are reimbursed for each supper by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, at a rate often significantly higher than the cost of the meal.

Majority of US public school students are in poverty Washington Post: For the first time in at least 50 years, a majority of U.S. public school students come from low-income families, according to a new analysis of 2013 federal data, a statistic that has profound implications for the nation. 

AFT's Weingarten lays out new models for unions People's World: American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten today laid out a framework for a renewed American labor movement. She was joined by U.S. labor secretary Thomas Perez and others at an Albert Shanker Institute conference.

Jeb Bush is running on his Florida education record. Here's what he actually did Vox: Bush's signature reform was testing students every year and grading schools based on the results of those tests. He also pushed to expand charter schools and supported voucher programs, as well as pioneering a program to hold students back who weren't reading in third grade. Some of these ideas are still well within the mainstream of the Republican party. But others, particularly mandatory annual standardized testing, have become much less politically popular in recent years. 

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

Continue reading "AM News: Pushing Lunch Until After Recess (& Offering School Dinner, Too)" »

Journalism: Story Corrections Should Be Indicated At The Top -- Right?

While The Atlantic Education page editor Alia Wong was setting off a minor firestorm on the EWA listserv and elsewhere about whether education reporting is boring (due to overuse of jargon, mainly), Atlantic editor Jennie Rothenberg Gritz was correcting and defending the magazine's feature story about NYC's community colleges' use of test scores to determine student admission. The Hechinger Report which also published the piece was figuring out how to react.

As you may already know, The Atlantic  responded to concerns expressed by CUNY about the original story by rewriting some of the piece and posting a note at the bottom of the page explaining the changes it had made.  Rothenberg Gritz explained the changes at length in the comments section, as noted by Capital New York. (The lengthy response from Rothenberg Gritz is posted below so you don't have to dig through 300-plus comments to find it.)

Meanwhile, the Hechinger Report says via Twitter that its version of the story was updated yesterday morning, and has now added a note at the bottom of the story ("This story has been updated from the original version.") without any explanation of the substance of the correction (or indication at the top that the story has been changed since its first publication). 

CUNY isn't satisfied and wants the story corrected further or even retracted entirely. More changes may come -- I've emailed the reporters and editors involved and will share any responses. Meantime, I think it's laudable that both The Atlantic and Hechinger Report responded so quickly to substantive concerns about the piece.  However, I do think that it's well worth noting corrections at the top of the story not just at the bottom, and perhaps making it easy for readers to see the original version, too?

Related posts: Corrected Atlantic Magazine Story Still Not Accurate, Says CUNY.

Continue reading "Journalism: Story Corrections Should Be Indicated At The Top -- Right?" »

Thompson: John Merrow's Wish/Hope List for 2015

PBS’s John Merrow, in What’s Ahead in 2015?, starts with an astute observation about the watch dog who didn’t bark. Outcomes-loving Arne Duncan had just said that his predictions for the upcoming year were more, more, more and more increases in non-controversial supports and squishy targets.

Such input-driven goals were once seen as Low Expectations!, and they supposedly made tough-minded data-driven accountability necessary. Merrow notes that Duncan skipped an opportunity to address quality, not just quantity, or to take a stand as to whether students will have better classroom experiences in 2015 due to Common Core.

Rather than make predictions for the next 12 months, Merrow offered “a wish/hope list for 2015.”

Merrow wishes we could “make it harder to become a teacher but easier to be one. Right now a lot of our policies and rhetoric are making it downright unpleasant to be a teacher.”

He wishes Duncan would back away from value-added teacher evaluations, "but that’s not likely to happen. … Mr. Duncan is doubling down, not seeking common ground.”

I agree with Merrow’s next wish, although I'd emphasize a different part of his aspiration. He wishes that “the critics of testing and ‘test-based accountability’ would get together with their opponents and agree on some fair, effective and efficient ways of evaluating teachers.” Since unions have long advocated for practical policies such as peer review and the New Haven plan, the key words are “get together.” Those who seek better means of dismissing bad teachers mostly need to take “Yes” for an answer.

Continue reading "Thompson: John Merrow's Wish/Hope List for 2015" »

Quotes: Reform Crowd Getting Played On "Annual Testing"

Quotes2The more freaked out the “education-reform crowd” is about annual testing, and the more singularly they stay focused on “annual testing” to the exclusion of what are equally important issues, the easier it is for Kline and Alexander to take everything else off the table. - December blog post from DFER's Charles Barone (Annual Testing in ESEA Reauthorization: A Red Herring?)

Charts: Masters Degrees Are *All* The Rage

image from profitofeducation.org

The overall number of education degrees has gone up roughly 40 percent over the past two decades, even though student enrollment has only gone up about half that, notes UCSB's Dick Startz at The Profit Of Education (Ed degrees). Most of the growth has come from Masters degrees. 

A couple of years ago, former contributor Paul Bruno wrote about how expensive these degrees are -- and how little they seemed to help improve student outcomes (Paying Teachers For Master's Degrees Is A Bad Idea). Way back in 2007, Kevin Carey (the of Education Sector) blogged about the cost of all these Masters degrees to the public. The link is still alive over at AIR: The $8.5 Billion Master's Degree. I wonder how much bigger that number would be now.

Image used with permission.

AM News Roundup: Annual Testing, NY Teacher Tenure, Anaheim Trigger

Democrats Voice Concerns, Stakeholders Have Mixed Reactions to NCLB Draft PK12: Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the ranking member of the Senate education committee, who will be Alexander's sparring partner during the reauthorization process, said Wednesday that she was disappointed in several policies that were included in the draft and by one that wasn't.

AFT backs annual testing, with an asterisk Washington Post: As debate rages in Washington about whether a new K-12 federal education law should continue to require annual testing in math and reading, the nation’s second-largest teachers union has staked out a hybrid position. See also TeacherBeat.

 Plaintiffs Urge Judge to Let Case Against Teacher Tenure Proceed WNYC: An ambitious lawsuit challenging teacher tenure in New York got its first full hearing, as two groups of parents claimed job protections make it too difficult to remove bad teachers. See also ChalkbeatNY.

Anaheim parents move to force school reforms EdSource Today: A group of parents in the Anaheim City School District on Wednesday submitted petitions to force reforms at their children’s struggling elementary school – changes that may include turning the school into a charter. See also EdWeek.

President Obama's Student-Data-Privacy Proposal Gets Wary Industry Reaction Education Week News: Companies that provide educational technology will carefully watch the unfolding of President Obama's proposal for a new Student Digital Privacy Act, and closely scrutinize the release of recommended "terms of service" guidance from the U.S. Department 

A New Study Reveals Much About How Parents Really Choose Schools NPR: Will choice and competition really improve academic quality? A new study out of New Orleans complicates the picture.

LAUSD asks to postpone student test scores, so what's next? KPCC: LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines and the school board expressed concerns that district students haven't had enough time to prepare. Students would take the tests on new tablets and laptops, and officials worry that they haven't sufficiently practiced on the new devices.

Transportation, Education Could Be Big Sticking Points For Hogan's Budget WAMU: Funding for large transportation projects — such as the Purple Line — and for large school districts are among Democrats' concerns as the new GOP governor prepares his fiscal plan.

 

Rand Paul Seeks 2016 Spotlight at Common Core Forum in New Hampshire PK12: Paul held a forum on the Common Core State Standards Wednesday in New Hampshire, which just happens to be the first primary state. The school choice advocate held the event after touring a charter school in Manchester.

Journalism: Corrected Atlantic Magazine Story Still Not Accurate, Says CUNY

image from ow.lyThe latest edition of The Atlantic includes a long story about how rising reliance on test scores is pushing low-income minority students out of top-tier CUNY schools.  

But apparently not everything in the original story -- including the rejection of a student from his top-choice school -- was in fact as described.  

First, CUNY issued a letter calling out several errors in the story. Then, The Atlantic rewrote the story and added the correction you see above.

However, the corrected story is apparently still error-filled, according to CUNY.  

What happened in this case? I have no ideas, but will let you know what I can find out. 

As you can see below, this is just the latest in a series of errors, omissions, and other kinds of flubs for education news stories in the past year or so.  

Related posts: New York Magazine Duped By Stuyvesant HS Student ScamMassive NYT Math Score CorrectionNYT Journo Tweets Out 60-80 Days Of Testing ClarificationNo, Georgia Doesn't Really Lead The Nation In School ShootingsCJR Chides Journos For Falling For "All-Powerful TX School Board" MythResearcher Fails To Disclose Union Funding; Journos Fail To Ask

Lunchtime Listen: When Students Of Color Have White Teachers

Do yourself a favor and listen to this NPR/Latino USA segment from a few days ago about the problems created by the predominance of white teachers teaching kids of color. It's not just a charter school problem, that's for sure. Want more? Check out this MSNBC segment about the issue. #YoweiShaw

Update: "Serial" Eyewitness Blames Tensions On Magnet Program

NPR's big podcast success, Serial, is long done now, but more news has been trickling out about some of the characters from the series (about the murder of a high school student). In this interview with one of the key witnesses (Witness from 'Serial' Tells His Story for First Time) there's the claim that tensions at Woodlawn high school were exacerbated by the creation of a magnet wing at the school:

When Woodlawn put in the magnet thing, they took out all the vocational classes. Before you would just go down there for drafting, shop, and everyone would co-mingle, and all the students interacted. But when they put the magnet wing in, it was kinda like ‘these people were different from us.’ And they didn’t have to interact with us anymore. They didn’t have to go by us, except to come to lunch, and that was it. But their gym, lockers, parking, was down in the magnet wing. And I found that to be a bit of a slap in the face. Because I knew football had paid for all of that, but there were few football players down there. Football paid for everything at the school.

Others know much more than I do about Woodlawn and about magnet programs being added to existing high schools -- but it seemed like an interesting claim to me and a fun way to bring up the show again.

Related post: Why's "Serial" Getting So Much More Pushback Than "Harper High"?

Magazines: NY Mag Profiles Brown, Declares Beginning Of The "Lawsuit" Era Of School Reform

ScreenHunter_01 Jan. 14 10.50
Pegged to the court hearing taking place today in Staten Island, Vanessa Grigoriadis' profile of Campbell Brown in New York magazine (The Most Controversial Woman in School Reform) starts out with the somewhat expected description of what Brown looks like but manages to hit some interesting and useful points along the way.  Read it all below. Image used with permission. Photo credit: Dina Litovsky.

Continue reading "Magazines: NY Mag Profiles Brown, Declares Beginning Of The "Lawsuit" Era Of School Reform" »

Morning Video: Schools [Still] Try Teaching Willpower

 

This PBS NewsHour segment focused on KIPP Infinity features schools trying to teach grit. Clip and transcript here.

AM News: Senators Murray & Alexander Push To Revamp NCLB

Democrats and Republicans Agree: It's Time To Rewrite No Child Left Behind HuffPost: Murray articulated a similar position on testing in an interview Tuesday. "We have to fix the redundant and unnecessary testing within the system broadly," she told The Huffington Post.  But, she said in her speech, "That doesn't mean we should roll back standards or accountability." She further defended the need for some degree of standardized testing by invoking a reason more often used on the right: taxpayer money.

Senators set stage for debate about federal education law Washington Post: Top Republican and Democratic negotiators over federal education law each took to the Senate floor Tuesday to lay out their sometimes conflicting visions for rewriting No Child Left Behind.Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the chair of the Senate education panel, emphasized that he wants to shrink the federal footprint in local education, saying the Obama administration has acted as a “national school board” and that Congress ought to cede power back to states to decide how best to educate K-12 students. 

Why Google Didn't Sign Obama-Backed Student Privacy Pledge Wall Street Journal: Other Google student-privacy policies are more nuanced than the pledge Obama endorsed Monday. The company says it doesn't sell Google Apps for Education data to third parties and it only shares personal information with third parties in “exceptional ...

The Most Controversial Woman in School Reform NY Magazine: Even in school reform’s new lawsuit era, hand-to-hand combat is still the preferred mode of resolving—or not resolving—­conflict. Brown has become the latest vilified figure in a decades-long PR battle—between the teachers union, one of the last powerful unions in the U.S., and “reformers”—to rival the ugliest type of corporate warfare.

Teacher survey: Change tenure, layoff laws EdSource Today: Gov. Jerry Brown said last week he's open to changing tenure and other teacher employment laws at issue in the Vergara v. State of California lawsuit, and most teachers in a new survey say they want to change them, too.

Speak & Spell: A History Hacked Education: The Speak & Spell – one of the most iconic toys of the 1980s – is a teaching machine. By that, I don’t mean simply that it’s an electronic, educational device. It is that, sure. The Speak & Spell is a teaching machine specifically in the tradition of B. F. Skinner, reflecting some of both Skinner’s design principles and his theories of learning, decades older than the popular Texas Instruments device. Rather than selecting the correctly-spelled word in a multiple choice quiz, for the example, the Speak & Spell prompts the user to construct the response. It praises; it corrects.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Senators Murray & Alexander Push To Revamp NCLB" »

Upcoming: A 360-Degree Look At The "New" Education Philanthropy

Just a few weeks from now AEI is hosting an event looking at the ‘new’ education philanthropy that I think is going to be pretty interesting -- and not just because I'm going to be there talking about a series of interviews with program officers and academics.

AEI's Hess and Teachers College's Jeff Henig have rounded up 8 new studies and analyses from across the ideological spectrum.

Some of those who have written chapters and/or will be there at the event include Stacey Childress, NewSchools Venture Fund, Jay P. Greene, University of Arkansas, Sarah Reckhow, Michigan State University, and Jeffrey W. Snyder, Michigan State University.  Joanne Barkan, Dissent Magazine,  Larry Cuban, Stanford University, Howard Fuller, Marquette University, and Michael Q. McShane, AEI, will also be there. Wrapping things up will be a panel featuring me, Jim Blew, StudentsFirst, Dana Goldstein, The Marshall Project, and Andrew P. Kelly, AEI.

The conference is part of AEI Education's revisiting of the decade-old volume looking at education grantmaking ("With The Best Of Intentions").  How much has education philanthropy changed, in terms of funded activities and/or effectiveness?

Related posts:  Many "Tissue-Paper" Reforms Unlikely To Last, Says Cuban (Thompson); It Isn't Always The Best Nonprofits That Get The Big MoneyWho Funds EdTech -- And Who Doesn'tHave Big Funders (Like Walton & Gates) Overtaken Think Tanks (Like Brookings)?No More "Give Money To Someone Really Smart" For Foundations

Maps: Is Mayoral Control The Exception Or Is It Pretty Common?

Twenty years after the state legislature gave control over Windy City schools to City Hall, mayoral control is hotly debated in Chicago. The local PBS station takes a look and gives us this map. (Appointed vs. Elected School Board | Chicago Tonight | WTTW).

Morning Video: Real-Time Videoconference Translation

Launched last month, Skype and Microsoft have a videoconferencing program that allows real-time translation (seek English-Spanish demo above). The Times says that Google is not far behind. Anyone tried it yet in real life, or have any thoughts about what this does to, say, foreign language requirements?

AM News: Duncan Support For Annual NCLB Testing (Is This News?)

Administration Doubling Down on K-12 Priorities, Ed. Sec. Arne Duncan Declares PK12: Duncan is making it clear he doesn't think that Republicans in Congress—who could introduce draft proposals that make significant changes to federal testing mandates as early as this week—are on the right track. 

Arne Duncan Wants To Drop 'No Child Left Behind' — But Keep Its Tests NPR: The secretary of education calls the law "tired," asserting that much of it ought to be scrapped. But he still wants to keep the annual exams that serve as the law's centerpiece.

Duncan lays out priorities for education law: Testing, preschool funding, teacher evals Washington Post: Education Secretary Arne Duncan spelled out his priorities for a new federal education law Monday, calling on Congress to build in funding for preschool, add $1 billion annually in federal aid for schools with the neediest students, and maintain the federal mandate that says states must test students every year in math and reading. See also: Education groups, leaders weigh in on Duncan’s speech.

White House Still Backs Annual Testing in Schools NYT: Arne Duncan outlined the administration’s priorities for a revision of No Child Left Behind, indicating that testing was important to measuring achievement.

Obama to Call for New Laws on Data Hacking, Student Privacy NPR: The Obama Administration wants to create some new regulations that would alert consumers to the potentially unavoidable dangers facing them in the era of Sony's hacks.  See also Daily Caller.

NYC DOE reveals elusive data for 13 charter schools: How many students leave each year ChalkbeatNY:  The limited student mobility data challenges that [Farina] argument, to a degree. The schools with the highest average mobility rates over the past four years are also the ones that are performing the worst academically.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Duncan Support For Annual NCLB Testing (Is This News?)" »

Update: A Kinder, Gentler StudentsFirst In 2015?

Screen shot 2015-01-12 at 3.17.47 PMOver the weekend, newish StudentsFirst head Jim Blew sent out an email explaining the need for what he describes as "controversial, sometimes uncomfortable work" and outlining some of the his plans for the organization in 2015.

"At its core, StudentsFirst is a political and advocacy operation targeting a few states," writes Blew, who identifies himself and much of the senior staff as Democrats, with a common focus on performance systems and choice.

As has been reported previously, StudentsFirst is pulling back in some places and staying out of others and so won't be operating in big states like Texas, Florida, Illinois, Indiana and Louisiana.

At the national level, says Blew, "We will continue to speak the truth about our broken system and the need for policy changes, but we will also endeavor to do so with diplomacy and without malice."  He says that teachers unions and their allies spent an estimated $500M over the last two years to block reform and push their own ideas.

Related posts: Rhee Departure Leaves Movement Without Ravitch-Like FigureReviewing StudentsFirst's Union PositionsRhee Takes On Testing Opt-OutersInsult-Hurling Coming Mostly From Reform CriticsToo Much Focus On Testing, Agrees RheeNew PBS Documentary Humanizes Rhee's TenureRhee Cites DC Precedent On Collaboration. Image used with permission.

 

Thompson: Can School Reform Learn from Failure?

The November, 2014 New York Times Magazine special edition on innovation focuses on failure. As explained in its introduction, most innovations are like Esperanto. They fail.  As they say in that long-forgotten language, “Oh, Well, Gravas la penso (it’s the thought that counts).”

Some of the best parts of the issue involve the inflated hopes of 1990s Big Data and corporate-style innovations and how they failed in similar ways. From the mapping of the human genome to output-driven, market-driven school reform, innovators learned that the world is far more complicated than they had anticipated. 

Virginia Hefferman explained how 1990s Virtual Reality mediums failed to live up to their marketing hype because, real world, they felt “like brain poison.” After a reworking of these technologies, virtual reality should now live up to its promise by creating “’a deep hunger for real-life experience.’”

Kemia Malekvilibro recalled the 1990s promise of DNA sequencing, and concluded that the “golden road to pharmaceutical riches as target-based drug discovery has often proved to be more of a garden path.” Its approach to improving health outcomes relied too heavily on Big Data. It needed more old-fashioned inductive research, where scientists formulated hypotheses and tinkered with their experiments.

In both cases, pioneers faced up to facts and adjusted to reality. They looked again at the phenomenon they were studying and asked questions. Education seems to be the exception; its true believers have refused to acknowledge the failure of their beautiful first generation theories.

Continue reading "Thompson: Can School Reform Learn from Failure?" »

Money: Districts Projected To Save $2B Thanks To Lower Gas Prices

ScreenHunter_01 Jan. 12 12.19Wells Fargo's Trace Urdan projects $2 billion in savings for school districts across the country, thanks to lower gas prices and fuel costs.

"[Urdan] cited data from two counties, Fairfax, VA and Montgomery, MD, reporting that school buses use an average of 37 gallons per student per school year. Tallying that across 49.8 million public school students equates to a total usage of 1.84 million gallons of gas. Budgets that were fixed in July 2014 based on an average U.S. gas price of $3.65 per gallon will now reap the difference for a price that currently averages $2.18 per gallon. A similar bonanza will hit heating fuel budgets, which could result in a $1.65 billion windfall, the report said."

A few states -- Alaska and Texas, for example -- will suffer the lower prices fuel generates. What schools will do with the unexpected windfall isn't clear, though of course edtech folks think that gizmos and apps would be the best use of funds. Via The Journal. Report PDF here. Via @trace_urdan. Image used with permission.  

Morning Video: Golden Globe Winner "Boyhood" Full Of School-Related Moments

"Boyhood" was a big winner at last night's Golden Globes awards, which reminded me of the great scene in the movie when the protagonist's high school photo teacher gives him a pep talk/calling out. ("Who do you want to be Mason, what do you want to do?") I wrote about this last summer when the movie came out. There's a glimpse of it in the trailer, too -- along with a few other school-related scenes ("Welcome to The Suck.")

 

AM News: Schools Reducing Suspensions, Groups Endorse Annual Testing, Obama Supports Data Privacy

Policy shifts yield decline in school suspensions AP: Five years ago, LAUSD students were scolded with 74,765 days of suspension; last year, they received 8,351, an 89 percent decrease. The decline comes on the heels of a nationwide push to rollback zero-tolerance policies instituted after the deadly Columbine High School shootings that emphasize harsh discipline for even minor misbehavior in favor of support-focused alternatives.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan to outline education priorities and defend testing Washington Post: As a new Congress gets to work to rewrite the 2002 federal education law known as No Child Left Behind, the Obama administration is drawing what Education Secretary Arne Duncan calls a “line in the sand”: The federal government must continue to require states to give annual, standardized tests in reading and math. See also PK12EdWeek.

Obama To Propose Laws On Hacking Notification, Student Privacy AP: President Obama wants to require companies to inform customers within 30 days if their data has been hacked. He also wants to prevent companies from selling student data to third parties. See also NYT, Politico.

Silicon Valley Turns Its Eye to Education NYT: Educational technology companies are latecomers to exploiting the potential of the Internet, but venture capitalists seem to believe their time has come.

How Schools Around The Country Respond To Cold Temperatures HuffPost: Kansas City Public Schools closed its buildings Wednesday and Thursday as forecasts warned of wind chill temperatures as low as 25 degrees below zero. Up in Minnesota, temperatures have to be a little more extreme to warrant school closings. Chicago public schools were closed on Wednesday and Thursday this week "due to extreme temperatures and winds in the area," according to a press release from the district.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Schools Reducing Suspensions, Groups Endorse Annual Testing, Obama Supports Data Privacy" »

TV: Apparently Not Everyone's Cut Out To Be A Teaching Fellow


Let's close out the week with a recommendation to watch at least one segment from the Vimeo series "High Maintenance," which focuses on a character's ill-fated decision to join a Teaching Fellows-like program (and is adult fare probably not best suited to the workplace).

Called Ghengis, the episode features a character named Evan Waxman (pictured above, via Tumblr) who "tries to become a teacher in an attempt to be more fulfilled by his career." But it doesn't go well or easily for him, assigned to a burned-out summer school teacher with some rowdy (and hilarious) high school students. 

Pulling a pencil out of his nose is just the least of it. A moment of desperation leads him to do and say some very, very mistaken things.

It's a darkly comic version of the lighthearded peeks into modern school life we get from The New Girl or the seriousness of Parenthood.  And it's not particularly pro- or con-alternative certfication.  Evan just as easily have come through a traditional program. I feel like I've met lots of Evans from both routs.

Charts: Suburban Poverty Is A Thing, ICYMI

image from www.brookings.edu

"Since 2000, poverty has grown twice as fast in America's suburbs as in America's cities. That is one of the findings from research on suburban poverty in America conducted by Elizabeth Kneebone and Alan Berube. (Top Brookings Infographics of 2014)

 

Lunchtime Video: Why No One Wants To Talk About Ending Neighborhood School Segregation

Here's a short video and writeup via The Atlantic about the 1974 Boston public school integration effort, and recent efforts to revisit segregation in public schools. Click here if the video doesn't load.

Journalism: No, Georgia Doesn't Really Lead The Nation In School Shootings

image from static.politifact.com.s3.amazonaws.comGiven the pace of work being produced and the complexity of the issues, it's pretty easy for mis-statements and errors of fact to creep into education stories -- and very hard to correct them once they're out in the wild.  

That's why it's helpful that Politifact covers Education statements.  

Just recently, the site took a look at the claim made that GA "leads the nation in school shootings since Sandy Hook." The claim was made by Everytown For Gun Safety and passed along by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  

The issue is how Everytown defines school shooting (very broadly).

Any other bad numbers or unverified claims out there that you think need to be addressed?  Send them to me at alexanderrusso@gmail.com.

Related posts: New York Magazine Duped By Stuyvesant HS Student Scam;NYT Journo Tweets Out 60-80 Days Of Testing ClarificationOops!? Results From The Equity Project Same As Other NYC ChartersMissing Context From ProPublica Charter School "Sweeps" Story.

AM News: Duncan To Join "Repeal NCLB" Chorus -- But Favors Annual Testing

Arne Duncan to call for No Child Left Behind revamp Politico: In a speech Monday, Duncan will lay out his principles for rewriting the education law, sources familiar with the event confirmed. But he is not expected to back down from his insistence that a rewritten law retain the federal mandate that all students be tested in math and reading every year from third through eighth grade.

Governors Laud 'Higher Standards,' Plead for NCLB Renewal in NGA Speeches State EdWatch: Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, the chairman of the National Governors Association, said more rigorous expectations for students were important, but not the only consideration for stronger schools.

Obama In Tennessee To Promote Free Community College NPR: President Obama is on the road as part of his effort to jump-start his 2015 agenda. Today he's in Tennessee, talking about higher education. See also NYTWashington PostPK12.

A 'Sizable Decrease' In Those Passing The GED NPR: The new GED is more expensive, computer-based and tougher. As a result some states are embracing alternative tests, and the number of GEDs awarded last year fell.

Study Questions Stock Teacher-Turnover Stat Teacher Beat: In contrast to the conventional wisdom, an estimated 70 percent of teachers stay in the profession after five years, an analysis of federal data shows.

Could push to improve teacher training start by taking a cue from flight schools? PBS: Just like pilots aren’t allowed to fly solo until they are capable, Deborah Ball, dean of the University of Michigan’s School of Education, thinks teaching programs should follow the same principle. That’s the analogy Ball drew last summer when speaking about teacher preparation to a group of higher education leaders at a forum in Aspen, Colorado.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Duncan To Join "Repeal NCLB" Chorus -- But Favors Annual Testing" »

Charts: Elementary Ed Majors Make Less Than Associate's Degree Majors

image from www.brookings.eduWow.  Something's clearly gone wrong here.  Lifetime earnings for Elementary Education degree holders are lower than average and lower than even Associate's Degrees (the purple line towards the bottom of the chart), according to this Brookings graph.  However, art and music ed majors do somewhat better, and language and drama do better, too. 

Thompson: That New Common Core GED Test Is The Worst

No education reform issue provides a better illustration of the unintended harm done to schools and students by sincere but uninformed corporate school reformers than Common Core GED testing. Top down reformers are adamant that high school high-stakes testing must reflect college readiness. And, they assumed that the GED test which allowed dropouts to graduate must also reflect those changes. 

Consequently, reformers leapt before they looked, and the nation is experiencing a 90% decrease in the number of persons passing the 2014 GED. 

As explained by the Cleveland Scene’s Daniel McGraw, in Nearly 500,000 Fewer Americans Will Pass the GED in 2014, their Common Core testing mandates “’are we going to ace out a whole group of people from getting a GED because some college administrators don't think their incoming students know enough algebra.’” 

McGraw cites Stan Jones, the president of Complete College America, who explains, "The way I see it, they have effectively gutted the GED program by these changes they have made." 

I doubt that many Common Core supporters realized that the GED accounts for 12% percent of all the high school diplomas awarded each year. They may tout the dramatic declines of the dropout rate over the last couple of decades. But, were it not for the GED, the dropout rate would have increased during that time. 

Neither did Common Core advocates seem to anticipate the havoc they would be inflicting upon other institutions seeking to enhance the employment prospects of dropouts. For instance, 2,100 Ohio prison inmates earned a GED in both 2012 and 2013. Only 97 have earned the GED in 2014. 

Stephen J. Steurer, the executive director of Correctional Education Association, concludes that this oversight “is a national tragedy that will continue to have repercussions for years." 

School reformers do not mean to inadvertently harm our most vulnerable students by setting them up for inevitable failure. But, they must listen to Robert Bivins, the program director of Education at Work at Project Learn, who explains that we are freezing a large portion of people out of the GED process. “Think of the message that sends.”-JT (@drjohnthompson)

Quotes: "Nobody [In The RNC] Cares About The Common Core"

Quotes2The thought that the Common Core, of all things, would somehow derail [Bush's] presidential campaign is a little odd. Federal education policy is a second-tier issue, and as Nate Silver has shown there's no clear partisan tilt on the Common Core issue among the mass public... If party leaders decide that a charge against the Common Core is their #1 goal for 2017, then obviously Jeb is out of luck. But that would be a very weird thing to decide. - Vox's Matt Yglesias (Jeb Bush's path to victory in 2016)

Morning Video: Perhaps The Best Education Video Since Edelman 2011

Don't be put off by the outfit (slim grey suit with pink pocket square), the TED-like bells and whistles, or even the point of view (pro-reform).  This might be the best education video since Jonah Edelman's infamous 2011 Aspen Ideas Festival explainer. Or maybe it's just the best of the week, and there's not much else going on.

In this "how to make the case for education reform" video, the president of AEI tells his audience something that pretty much everyone in education advocacy has come to understand at this point, whatever side they're on:  "You better make it moral, you better fight for people, and you better do it quick."

Watch it, tell us what you think (it's very much of the mind that reform ideas are fine they just haven't been communicated effectively), and extra points for calling out names from the audience reaction shots.

*Apologies for mis-spelling Jonah's name -- it's Edelman with an "E."

AM News: Cold-Weather Closures Plus Updated EdWeek Grades

Deep Freeze Sticks Around As Some Schools Remain Closed WAMU: Many districts in Virginia and Maryland took no chances with the roads today. See also HuffPost.

Brutal Cold Forces Schools Throughout Midwest to Close NYT: Even Chicago, which prides itself on toughing out fierce winters, told students to stay home as wind chills were predicted to hit 27 degrees below zero. See also AP.

Report gives CA low marks on preschool EdSource Today: California ranks well above other states in preschool and kindergarten enrollment, but still ranks 45th overall in its efforts to support the education of its youngest children, according to a report by Education Week released today. See also KPCC, EdWeek.

Study Finds Reading to Children of All Ages Grooms Them to Read More on Their Own NYT: A study by Scholastic points to ways that parents can encourage kids to read for fun.

Students Thrilled About End to Cell Phone Ban? Not Necessarily. WNYC: For the New York City students who admit to little self control, allowing cell phones in high school spells trouble. They'd rather not have daytime access to their tempting screens. See also ChalkbeatNY.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Cold-Weather Closures Plus Updated EdWeek Grades" »

Quotes: "Being Against Something Isn't Enough"

Quotes2I wish that the critics of testing and ‘test-based accountability’ would get together with their opponents and agree on some fair, effective and efficient ways of evaluating teachers. Just being against something isn’t enough, in my book, and teachers deserve to be fairly evaluated. - PBS NewsHour education correspondent John Merrow (What’s Ahead in 2015)

People: Forbes' 30 Under 30 Education List Goes EdTech

ScreenHunter_01 Jan. 07 13.36The 2015 version of Forbes' #30Under30 education list came out on Monday, featuring members of familiar organizations and companies including Kano, Chegg, Amplify, Aspire, TFA, College Board, & FFEPS. Folks like TFA and EdPioneers were understandably enthusiastic about the list, since it includes so many of their current and former folks. Others -- including at least one of the judges -- weren't so enthusiastic. Some reasons for concern or complaint included the lack of classroom teachers on the list, the focus on edtech, and the lack of diversity (racial and ideological, I suppose). 

Related posts: Meet Jeremiah Kittredge, Forbes' Under-30 Honoree (2012);  Who's *Not* On The Forbes 2011 Reformer List?;  Forbes Tackles School Solutions (2008).  Image used with permission of Forbes.

Thompson: Many "Tissue-Paper" Reforms Unlikely To Last, Says Cuban

Stanford Professor Emeritus Larry Cuban, in Another Educated Guess about Philanthropy and School Reform, looks back at “thirty years of market-driven and donor-supported school reform,” and speculates on the vestiges of reform that he guesses “will be quietly incorporated into public schooling.”

Cuban predicts that charter schools will survive, standardized testing will be scaled back, a downsized version of national curriculum standards will endure, as technology will be routinely used in classrooms. Accountability regulations and penalties will be reduced.

I can live with that. Cuban essentially predicts that we will scale standards-based, outcome-based reforms back to 1990s levels. Those policies could be annoying, but they did not cause the harm inflicted by NCLB and the even worse test, sort, and punish regimes of the Duncan era.

More importantly, he envisions the demise of “the idée fixe of schools concentrating on producing human capital first and civic engagement second or third will persist but lose its potency.” I hope this means that the approach that Cuban has long dismissed as “deputizing” teachers as the agents for countering poverty will be replaced by science-based policies such as early childhood education and full-service community schools.

Most importantly, Cuban predicts: "Other current reforms such as evaluating teachers on the basis of test scores, ending tenure and seniority, calling principals CEOs, and children learning to code will be like tissue-paper reforms of the past (e.g., zero-based budgeting, right- and left-brain teaching) that have been crumpled up and tossed away."

As with previous eras, “bits and pieces” of reforms will stick. But, Cuban guesses that “contemporary policymakers and philanthropists who have invested much time, energy, and monies into these market-driven reforms … will not break out the champagne for these remnants.”-JT (@drjohnthompson)

Charts: States' Current Standards Vary Widely (& Are Often Looow)

image from i58.tinypic.com"The percentage of proficient students for most states declined when compared with international standards. In Grade 8 mathematics, for example, Alabama went from 77 percent proficient to 15 percent; Colorado from 80 percent to 35 percent; Oklahoma from 66 percent to 20 percent; and New Jersey from 71 percent to 50 percent." (Proficient in One State May Not Mean Proficient in Another (AIR Ed Policy Center)

Morning Video: New GED Is Harder (& More Expensive)

The new test is harder, and more expensive -- but is that necessarily a bad thing? PBS NewsHour looks into the situation.  Transcript here.

AM News: Cold Weather Closes Chicago Public Schools

Chicago Public Schools closed due to cold for Jan. 7 WBEZ: “The frigid temperatures and winds make a dangerous combination, and it is in the best interest of our students to cancel classes,” said CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett in a press release.

Many of region’s schools opened in storm, drawing ire Washington Post: If the storm that swooped through Washington early Tuesday was an early test of winter, by many accounts several of the region’s school systems failed.Teen drivers crashed on the way to classes. School parking lots turned into gridlock, leaving parents seething. School buses fought slick roads, often unsuccessfully, with many school ­systems reporting crashes. 

Is the new GED test an educational improvement or setback? PBS NewsHour: In states like Wisconsin and Rhode Island, the number of those who passed dropped more than 90 percent. In Florida, the number of test takers fell about half. Is this an improvement or a setback?

Improving NYC Schools By Improving Students' Health WNYC: While educators often look to boost student achievement through efforts like curriculum changes or teacher training, the Children’s Health Fund in New York City is taking a different approach — a laser-like focus on a particular set of health issues that tend to affect poor children.

Jeb Bush education foundation played leading role in mixing politics, policy Washington Post: An employee of Jeb Bush’s education foundation was unequivocal when New Mexico’s top schools official needed someone to pay her travel costs to Washington to testify before Congress: The foundation would give her “whatever she needs.”

Plan For Later Start Of School Day Reawakens In Montgomery County WAMU: The county's superintendent favors an option that would delay the start of the school day by 20 minutes.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Cold Weather Closes Chicago Public Schools" »

Advertisement

Advertisement

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.